May 16, 2018 — PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a wide-ranging effort to promote online safety for Internet users around the country, Comcast today announced a comprehensive campaign between Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most successful high-speed Internet adoption initiative for low-income households, and members of the Conference of Western Attorneys General to address some of the most serious challenges seniors, parents, and children face online.
As of August 2017, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than four million low-income Americans in one million households to the Internet at home, most for the first time. In Arizona and New Mexico, the company will partner with both State Attorneys General to raise awareness about online safety. The expanded initiative builds off an effort the company began last year with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
The action comes on the heels of recent announcements from the Federal Trade Commission that estimate scammers extracted nearly $1 billion from Americans last year alone. More than $240 million of that total occurred either online or via email. FTC data also shows that younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than older people, with 40% of adults between the ages of 20-29 who filed FTC complaints reporting losing money to fraud, compared to 18 percent of adults age 70 and older.
“We welcome the opportunity to combine our Internet Essentials program with Attorneys General across the nation to provide low-income seniors, parents, and children with the tools and knowledge they need to be safe online,” said David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. “This is an issue that cuts across party lines. There is a universal desire on the part of law enforcement officials to protect Americans from the potential risks of being online. We also want to address the fear, which is the number one barrier to broadband adoption, that prevents some seniors and families from connecting to the Internet’s life-changing resources.”
“Attorneys General across state and party lines are responsible for protecting citizens from online scams and other predatory behavior,” said Derek Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General and president of the National Association of Attorneys General. “I commend Comcast for their work to protect seniors online by providing these educational materials to our members. This is a true example of a public-private partnership that benefits all of the members of our communities.”
“Older adults are often vulnerable to exploitation by those who prey on the goodness, financial insecurity, or trusting nature of seniors,” said Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General and Chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General. “My office is dedicated to protecting Arizona seniors from abuse and exploitation. I’m proud to work with Comcast and their Internet Essentials program to help arm our seniors and parents with the tools they need to safely take advantage of all the Internet has to offer.”
In a first-ever effort of its kind, with the support of a grant from Comcast, the nonprofit Connectsafely.org will develop a multimedia Internet safety toolkit for use by Attorneys General across the country. The materials will contain up-to-date materials to meet the specific needs and concerns of seniors, parents with school-aged children, and students. Comcast also will print and distribute copies of these materials and share them on its Internet Essentials Learning Portal, www.InternetEssentials.com/Safety.
In addition, Comcast announced it was providing support to several national nonprofits that specialize in Internet safety education and research including:
- Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) – The organization, which works to make the online world safer for kids and their families, will conduct research into how generational perceptions of online safety impact home Internet adoption among low-income populations. The goal is to provide additional insights into what kinds of barriers exist and how they can be addressed. Additionally, Comcast will be leveraging FOSI’s Good Digital Parenting Toolkit for use in schools and community organizations to provide tips and tools for parents raising digitally-native children.
- Common Sense Media – The national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology will produce custom printed resources in support of these events, offering robust online safety advice and guidance around digital well-being for parents and teens. Common Sense Media’s nationally recognized, expert video content with tips on Internet safety and digital literacy will also be featured on Comcast’s Internet Essentials Learning Portal on www.InternetEssentials.com.
- Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) – The New York-based social impact organization will develop a customized senior-specific digital literacy curriculum, incorporating online safety lessons, which will be made available to nonprofit partners to use in their local communities.
This integrated approach is part of the core design of the Internet Essentials program to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption – digital literacy, access to computer equipment, and affordable Internet service. The program is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners, to address this complex set of broadband adoption issues. In addition, in twelve cities nationwide, Comcast has launched a pilot program that enables eligible seniors to access low-cost Internet at home and receive free computer and internet training, either online or in person from a network of nonprofit partners.