Friendly WiFi is a government-initiated certification that shows that a public WiFi network is safe for all users, regardless of age. It’s not a compulsory requirement, so it isn’t essential if you’re looking for a WiFi solution for a retail centre, but there are important benefits to having a network with Friendly WiFi providers.
What is Friendly WiFi?
The initiative was launched by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and championed by then Prime Minister David Cameron, with the aim of ensuring public WiFi would be filtered for inappropriate or explicit content. Networks that meet the requirements are awarded an easy to recognise symbol that can be used to assure members of the public that the WiFi is safe for all users.
The Friendly WiFi logo can now be found in cafes, shops, restaurants, hotels and on public transport. Parents can let their children use the WiFi, safe in the knowledge that because the network is filtered for content, they won’t see anything they shouldn’t.
Should Your WiFi Be Filtered?
Without the filter, children and young people are at risk of accessing inappropriate content. You can build the filter to specifically block categories of websites that you don’t want users to access.
This can include:
- Adult content.
- Illegal content.
- Explicit videos.
- Inappropriate Google searches.
- Restricted YouTube content.
The internet filtering algorithms categorise websites so you don’t have to continually create exhaustive lists of individual sites, although you can add them manually. This means that even if inappropriate websites are launched after the filter is implemented, users still won’t be able to access them on your WiFi.
If your WiFi doesn’t have a content filter and young users access inappropriate content, then you’re liable and will potentially face legal consequences.
Filtering out inappropriate websites helps to protect your network from illegal activity and unsafe content.
When someone tries to access a site that the filter deems to be inappropriate or unsafe, then they’ll be greeted by a block page. This page tells them that they can’t access the site and why. It can be customised to match your company’s branding and logo.
They can request the URL to be unlocked, which is then reviewed by the WiFi provider inline with the agreed filtering policy.
If there are specific circumstances where you want to allow access to a website which falls under a blocked category, custom block/allow lists can be created and individual URLs added into the overall policy.
Is Friendly WiFi Essential?
Considering the arguments for and against, it’s clear that Friendly WiFi is essential for public networks. It allows families and users of all ages to browse securely, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be able to access and be exposed to content that’s illegal or inappropriate.
The health and wellbeing of visitors is your responsibility and this extends to their online safety. By choosing a WiFi provider that’s committed to Friendly WiFi, you’ll be implementing a WiFi network that’s safe and secure for children and young people to use. It shows you’re committed to your visitors’ wellbeing and you’re a retail centre that the whole family can enjoy together.
If you partner with WiFi SPARK, then your WiFi solution will be Friendly WiFi-certified as part of our managed service. We take care of the content filtering to make sure it’s up to standards and then you’re able to proudly display the Friendly WiFi symbol that lets all visitors know they can browse safely.
Using Your Safe WiFi to Boost Customer Engagement
The Friendly WiFi symbol encourages people to access the internet through your WiFi. Once connected, your public network WiFi can be utilised to increase customer engagement and visitor experience through features like loyalty schemes and anonymous data collection.
It can be more than just WiFi, providing you with innovative tools that can be used to change the way you think and interact with your customers.
To find out more about how a Friendly WiFi accredited solution can improve visitor interactions, download our free eBook below.