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DOJ issues online class guidelines for schools, parents

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Cybercrime (OOC) has issued guidelines for school administrators, parents, and the public as online classes become the norm in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DOJ-OOC said that video conferencing services, while making access to education "easy," pose security risks, such as the "loss of confidentiality, availability and integrity of computer data" and the exposure of students to "abusive strangers and harmful online contents."

The office said children should be protected against abuse and neglect.

The upcoming school year will start on October 5.

To school administrators, the DOJ advised providing meeting room credentials only to the registered students and their parents, and never to the public.

"Another good practice would be sending the meeting ID and password in a separate communication," the DOJ said.

For meeting configurations, the DOJ said administrators should accept participants individually, provide a standard naming instruction for participants, start the meeting with the participants' video and audio off, require a password, and disable screen sharing for non-hosts.

On the other hand, participants should not be allowed to join before the host, rename themselves, send messages to each other, access file transfer, share screens, use annotation tools to add information to shared screens, share whiteboard during meetings, and replace their background with any selected image, the DOJ said.

Students should never be left alone in a virtual classroom, the DOJ said.

It also said the video conferencing application must always be updated to the latest version.

Meanwhile, the DOJ said parents and guardians should "conscientiously guide" their children and wards during online classes and activities.

Children should be taught the meaning of "digital literacy" and "digital citizenship," as well as the ability to discern information online and to take measures to be safe from cybercrimes, the DOJ said.

It said digital literacy is "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."

Digital citizenship, on the other hand, refers to "the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use," it said.

For the public, the DOJ's advice is to report any irregularities or unwanted incidents during online classes to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

It said incidents may be reported to the Philippine National Police's Anti-Cybercrime Group, the National Bureau of Investigation's Cybercrime Division, and the DOJ - OOC.—LDF, GMA News