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Sparklebox Removal

Update November 9th 2012

The information below has been superceded by the events of October 31st / November 1st.
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We’ve had a few (quite a few!) challenges with removing Sparklebox toolbar and the knock on effects in schools. The enclosed pdf shows my findings with a laptop belonging to a teacher.

sparklebox notes march2011

 

Some background information

Sparklebox is now blocked by EMBC.
I’ve also received confirmation that a number of Sparklebox related sites and feeds have also been blocked. In the last few days, two local authorities have issued information regarding reasons for blocking Sparklebox.

The excerpts are here…

 

Kent Statement re the blocking of Sparklebox

It has been bought to Kent County Council’s attention that many Local Authorities are blocking a teaching resource website: www.sparklebox.co.uk.
Although this website is popular with schools, CEOP has issued a statement supporting both this action and the following statement from South West Grid for Learning:

“It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and children’s learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January.”

For this reason we feel it right to block the site centrally until more information is available and review whether this site should be blocked permanently after consulting schools and other sources.

Failure to block this site may place Schools or Kent County Council in a difficult position regarding duty of care. Should staff wish to continue using the website there is nothing to stop its use from home. We invite discussion from staff who may be concerned about this decision to discuss this on the e-Safety Blog (please note that this blog is moderated so your comment may not appear immediately).

Yorkshire and Humberside Grid for Learning
Sparklebox- Update 2
Update 2. 6/1/10

Colleagues
Here is a statement issued by CEOP regarding SparkleBox received from YHGfL.

Statement from CEOP

Following queries into the website sparklebox.co.uk over the past couple of months, CEOP have investigated the website and its management. It should be noted that Sparklebox’s primary aim is to provide resources for schools (in particular teachers) but that there are opportunities for pictures of young people to be sent in and be published online and that until recently there was a live blog. Sparklebox state that all staff have been through relevant checks however CEOP can support the recent SWGfL statement released this week, an extract of which is below:

“It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and children’s learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January.”

CEOP are also aware that a number of RBC’s and Local Authorities have blocked sparklebox.co.uk until they are satisfied that suitable safeguarding arrangements are in place. CEOP supports this stance and would recommend that any schools who choose to overrule their central filtering lists give due consideration to a website specific school risk analysis and risk management plan.

Update. 17/12/2009

A while ago, YHGfL took the step of blocking access to Sparklebox via their filtering service – a move which has not proved popular in a number of quarters either in this region or in the other regions which took the same action.

Attached to this notice is a statement from the South West Grid for Learning which contains some further information which forms the basis of YHGfL’s decision to continue blocking Sparkelbox.

YHGfL has recently blocked access to the web site Sparklebox. This site is very popular with schools but YHGfL, and other RBCs who provide internet access to schools, have taken the decision to block it for the following reasons.

1. The site is operating illegally in that the company operating the site has no registration with the Data Protection Registrar

2. The site signposts users to an un-trusted social networking site

3. The site offers the download of a toolbox with an unknown ‘payload’ – for example, the download could be collecting browsing history or initiate an internal attack on school systems immediately, or at some unknown future time.

Failure to block this site may well place YHGfL in a difficult position regarding their duty of care for their customers.

We hope this clarifies YHGfL’s decision.

 

by Mike McSharry

Legal Information: Systems and Education Ltd, Eagle House, Lutterworth LE17 4JA Reg in England and Wales 3565883
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