"Best Practices" for the Internet, gaming and digital technologies requires transparency, access and information. It also requires that your back-end matches your promises on the front-end. It’s more than staying out of court and out of trouble. It’s protecting your brand, users and investors. Parry Aftab says that “If you are not using industry best practices, you won’t be in business for long.”
Many groups and experts advise on “best practices.” But Parry has a unique convergence of practical, legal, compliance and hands-on expertise on best practices. Her expertise comes from her years as the head of an Internet safety and help charity where hundreds of thousands of Internet users have come for help. She was also one of the first cyberlawyers advising the Internet and children’s industries and a risk management advisor for one of the first Internet MMOGs (Disney’s Toontown) in 1998. Aftab was the creator of children’s leadership and safety initiatives for WiredSafety and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Aftab designed Runescape's abuse management system; she is an expert for policymakers, law enforcement and governmental agencies and a resource for the media when things go wrong online.
The industry leaders often turn to Parry for help in designing and implementing their best practices plans. (WiredTrust.com describes her best practices consulting firm; its Socially Safe Seal certifies digital networks, games and technologies for best practices.)
What are the best practice standards for sites and technologies targeted at kids, tweens or teens? “Herding Cats.” - that’s how MySpace’s general counsel in 2005 described the task of trying to keep young people from breaking the rules and acting out on the network when he turned to Parry for help.
Kids, tweens and teens are programmed to break rules. You set them - they break them. Cyberbullying and harassment, stolen IDs and passwords, posing as others and hurting their friends, sexting, point theft, photoshopped images with the victim’s head attached to someone else’s naked body - the list goes on and on. The only way to stay ahead of them is by making them your eyes and ears in the network and in your design - fighting fire with fire.
Which Best Practice Standards Apply To Your Entity?
Different strokes apply to different folks. And different best practice standards apply to different segments of the digital and Internet industries. But they all have a few things in common:
- You must let users know what you are doing and help them protect themselves;
- You must really do what you say you are doing;
- You must be clear and consistent in your customer service and moderation;
- You must know your users, what they want, how they use your product or service and the risks they face;
- You have to be able to manage those risks by being proactive and consistent;
- You must let them know when, how and where to report abuses and what will happen when they do;
- You have to know and control who will be handling your users’ data and your risk management;
- You have to maintain a good working relationship with law enforcement and develop and implement policies for investigative inquiries;
- You have to learn from your and others’ mistakes;
- You must provide support and supervision for customer service staff; and
- You must be able to handle the needs of your users within a reasonable period of time.