The Kaleidoscope of Cyber Security (Internet Ethics and Digital Wellness)

March 23, 2020 04:22 PM
Anil Rachamalla Image End Now Foundation

 

Anil Rachamalla, founder End Now Foundation talks to us on what it took to initiate the Non Profit (Trust) that disseminates digital safety content including Internet Ethics and Digital Wellness to educational institutions and the public at large

 

By Kavitha Srinivasa

 

What prompted you to start this initiative? Please give me a backgrounder

I come from an enterprise consulting background and I’ve worked abroad for many years before returning to my hometown Hyderabad. I began to move in social circles and upon request, I did some charity work. I became some sort of a hero but was also subject to bullying through social media platforms. When I told people, no one seemed to bother. I lodged a complaint in the police station only to realize that online bullying begins with school children. Bullying, Meme Pages, Online Confession Pages, masking photographs and blackmailing is rampant. 

Meanwhile, the cybercrime police officers told me that our conversations on Facebook, Internet and security were interesting. This motivated me to guide children to monitor and control their social media, gaming, messaging and screen time.

I felt I could share the same thoughts with a purpose-orient goal. I began to research on fake news, personal data, surveillance, social media and bullying. I shared these insights through formal programmes in communities and colleges as an individual before formally registering End Now Foundation in 2017. Gradually I built a team. We have seven trustees comprising a retired chief justice, retired IPS officer, doctor and chartered accountant. I’m also a Trustee. We have four employees who design and develop the website, along with Posters and Presentations, while Content and delivery come from volunteering teams represented by intellectuals and students.

Please give details on the programmes of End Now Foundation

End Now Foundation has different initiatives including Cyber Guard, Cyber Suraksha, Cyber Rakshak, Cyber Guru, Cyber Talk and Digital Wellbeing Councils. Cyber Suraksha, one of our programmes, began in March 2019. It’s an Intellectual Social Responsibility Programme. So far, my team and I have delivered over 200 talks in English, Telugu and Hindi.

The focus is on reputation management and digital parenting. The idea is to mentor parents and young minds and teach them to control and monitor their social media and screen times, thus promoting internet ethics and digital wellness. It also covers aspects like the individual’s consent versus the data which can be accessed. In this case, one needs to exercise judgment. Over 200 posters have been put up in the cybercrime police stations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The police department itself has been propagating the message. With time, a word-of-mouth publicity has made ourprogramme click with schools and colleges.

Cyber Guard is our Non for Profit Research and Development Wing. Content Development, Planning, Ideating Initiatives and Ongoing Researching on OSINT (Open Source Intelligence Tools) for Public and Investigating Agencies are its highlights. 

This intellectual social responsibility platform is thrown open to members, who can share their thoughts and experiences related to the cyber world. So far, we have over 40 members. Membership happens after we verify people through source verification and social profiling. Many women have approached us with several cyber issues including masked photographs that can trigger off all sorts of consequences. 

How have you been spreading the message of Cyber Rakshak among educational institutions? How many such institutions do you cover & how many more are in the offing?

Cyber Rakshak has evolved from Cyber Suraksha. This is a student social responsibility initiative, where students help spread awareness. The attempt is to promote internet ethics and digital wellness amongst students, which extends to the Smartphone. It’s important to draw a line between Smartphone usage and addiction.

The thrust is to reduce the Victims of Cyber Crime. Ever since its inception in March 2019, 57 lectures have been delivered on many topics like cyber bullying Addiction Monitoring and Controlling Social Media Fake News. Students themselves become ambassadors and spread the message of cyber security. We have 30 Cyber Rakshaks as of now. They will soon be joined by 60 students who are undergoing training.

Last year, End Now in association with the Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (Ministry of IT) and the Telangana State She Team (Women Safety – Police) has launched Cyber Rakshak programmes for students. The effort is to make people aware of digital safety. Advocacy on Digital Safety along with the four major pillars of advocacy being Cyber Bullying, Digital Addiction, Online Safety and Fake News are its hallmarks.

How do you counsel people, please take me through the process?

Our aim is to provide awareness on Internet Ethics, Digital Wellbeing and the need for proper management of social interactions. We also intend to provide access to informal learning about causes and effects of all Digital Abuse. Given this intent, the Foundation has arrived at two other Organisational Social Responsibility Programmes. The first is Cyber Guru, which is broadcast on Radio City 91.1 every Sunday. It began in March 2019 and has completed 53 episodes. Cyber Talk is a weekly column in Telangana Today, which began in December 2019. 

We also have a College Social Responsibility Programme. Titled Digital Wellbeing Council, it is being Beta Tested in seven locations. There’s the Digital Wellbeing Credit Courses at the college or university level. This College Social Responsibility Programme will soon offer Credit Courses during 2020-2021.

The Foundation is in the process of rolling out Credit Courses. A Formal MoU (memorandum of Understanding) from University of Hyderabad for Single and Credit Courses along with few Autonomous Colleges across India is in place. End Now has partnered with Centre for Digital Learning, Training and Resources, University of Hyderabad, as well as International Centre for Information Ethics (ICIE).

How are you involving people to spread awareness on cyber security? What are your plans towards the same this year?

We are a non-funded organization but now we are in talks with many government organizations for our campaigns. We look forward support from Corporates as we intend to create new initiatives and scale up the existing ones to few other states.

Our aim is to be a number one source for up-to-date Information, News and Legislature of all Digital Wellbeing. In future we hope to have Apps for Social Profiling as well as Predictive Behaviour. We are also preparing to create Downloadable Digital Wellbeing Kits and also offering Single / Double Credit Courses in Colleges and Universities. In order to make ourselves accessible, a Toll Free Number will be in place. In order to spread word, International Conference on Internet Ethics and Digital Wellness will hopefully happen this October 2020. 

 

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End Now Foundation aims to -

1. Promoting Internet Ethics and Digital Wellness

2. Establish Digital Wellbeing Councils for better Digital Etiquettes.

3. Include Credit Courses in all Universities and Autonomous Colleges.

4. Downloadable Digital Wellbeing Kits to accessible to all Schools / Colleges & Communities.

5. Include Digital Safety Education in Nation Skill Development Programmes.

6. Reduce disparities between opposite sex in all spheres of digital life.

7. Promote and strengthen the participation of students, especially the women and child in the protection and improvement of social life.

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