Feb 28, 2011

The Reality of “TRUST”

I had the honor of being asked by Millennium Entertainment to a screening of the upcoming movie “TRUST”, directed by David Schwimmer, and starring Clive Owens and Catherine Keener.  As the credits rolled at the end, I was left with a host of emotions from pain to sadness and with re-ignited memories of the Internet predators I had prosecuted as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice and the young girls whose lives they had destroyed forever.

And as I left the screening room, I kept thinking how much “TRUST” is true to life in the digital century and how much we as parents might not realize the truth about Internet predators.   We call them ‘Internet’ predators, but in fact, they are actual human beings intent on attacking a child in the real world.  The movie focuses carefully on the ‘grooming’ process where a predator meets an unsuspecting teenager online and slowly begins a friendship designed to break down her natural barriers and eventually grooms her into believing that she is truly in love with this person who is really not who he claims to be.

What was most telling about the thoughtful analysis that went into this movie is the fact that ‘Annie’ the 14-year-old victim was experiencing a series of events that put her at risk and, thus, at the mercy of a predator.  Her father was busy at work, her brother whom she had a special bond with was going away to college, her desire to be with a certain crowd wasn’t happening, and she was desperate to make it onto the volleyball team.  In fact, a child at risk in the physical world becomes at risk online.  Annie was such a child.  And, in essence, we saw how a perfect family with amazingly loving parents could fall prey to a predator, for when Annie was traumatized, so too was her family.

So, as a society we all need to know that this can happen to any of our families and we must work together to help our kids navigate safely in the digital world just like we have in the physical world for so many years.

I will talk about just what those calls to action are next time.  In the meantime, trust me, when I say that “TRUST” is true to life in the digital century.

Visit the official TRUST blog site where this blog is also posted.

Feb 15, 2011

What if “The Bachelor” Met Michelle Online?

Last night on the Valentine’s Day episode of “The Bachelor” we all cheered when Michelle was finally let go by Brad (watch the show).  I’m sure we all saw the signs of someone that made us nervous, afraid, and incredibly conscious of the “Fatal Attraction”-esque characteristics that Michelle apparently portrayed.  It was both frustrating and gut-wrenching that we couldn’t just call Brad and run some intervention – stay away, listen to your gut.  And last night, Brad finally did just that.  I’m sure we all collectively sighed and whispered – well, it’s about time he came to his senses.

Or, perhaps, more likely, it was about time he listened to his senses that had been telling him something is wrong all along.

As an online safety expert, I thought about all the challenges many singles, bachelor or bachelorette, face today when trying out online dating.  Despite the fact that we can’t see the person when we meet online – their facial twitches, their eye movements, their smile, their quirks – we continue to have this innate sense of alert that triggers when something just isn’t right.  Brad certainly was able to see all the signs we so diligently observed on the show.

So what do many people do instead?  They still set up a meeting in person, in private, where no one can help them if they call for help.  Check out a recent example here.

And what should we do?

The best defense against a tragic encounter is you.  Every time you plan to meet someone you’ve only met online, think of it as your first meeting ever – keep it public, keep it visible, and make it known to your friends.

Here are some tips to keep in mind –

-If something seems “off” in the online interaction, there’s no reason to meet them in real life, you’re probably right so trust yourself.

-Interact with the person online before you meet them in the physical world to give your instincts a chance to tell you whether to meet or not.

-Don’t give out too much information about yourself before you meet the person face to face, they may not need to know your last name, neighborhood you live in, your gym, or where you work or go to school.

-Good places to meet are well lit areas in good/safe parts of town that are popular- a cafe or restaurant for example.

-You are under no obligation to stay a minimum amount of time with someone who sets off alarm bells- just leave.

Learn more here.

Feb 14, 2011

The Emergence of Blue…

SSP Blue is a personal endeavor.  Safety, security, and privacy online are issues that I care about.  As a father, I find comfort in knowing my family is safe online.  As a businessman, I find comfort in knowing transactions, plans, and communications are secure.  And, as an Internet user, I find comfort in knowing that my personal information is protected and my privacy is intact.  As a society, these are necessary comforts we all care about.

I started SSP Blue to provide strategic business counsel to companies who recognize the value of these necessary comforts and to raise awareness amongst all of us about how to navigate safely and securely online.

So, where does “SSP Blue” come from?

Often safety, security, and privacy are treated as mutually exclusive, when in fact they are mutually inclusive.  “SSP” – Safety, Security, Privacy – must work together hand in hand for us to be able to navigate successfully online.  Thus, putting “SSP” into the name expresses our core mission.   And “Blue” signifies the holistic strategies and tactics that must be implemented in order to reach the proper balance of SSP.  Companies and citizens alike need blue-prints for action.

Much like the name, the logo with intersecting petals of similar blue tones integrated into a soothing image has its own story as well.  Online safety, security, and privacy are often tough issues to grasp and deal with.  When visiting the site or working with us, we want you to feel a sense of calmness and comfort while recognizing the intersection amongst SSP.  SSP Blue can help provide the comfort that comes from knowing that we’re providing solutions that protect us online.  As much as SSP can branch out into different directions, at the core they are really shades of each other originating from the same place – a necessary comfort for all of us.

Why would so much thought go in to one name and one logo? Mostly because that is how much thought goes into everything we do at SSP Blue.

SSP Blue, your blueprint for safety, security, and privacy.