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Safety first

Comet preinstalls child-friendly software

TV personality Carol Vorderman, along with several children's charities, showed their support yesterday for high street retailer Comet's preinstalled safety software initiative.

The software, which will come loaded as standard on all own-brand PCs purchased from Comet stores, has been designed to help parents manage their children's online activities in a bid to protect them from unsuitable spam email and paedophiles lurking in chatrooms.

"Comet has taken this action in response to a campaign being launched by the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety (Chis) and the NSPCC's campaign for greater internet safety. Both organisations want computer retailers to take responsibility for preinstalling safety software," said Bill Moir, category manager at Comet.

"By preinstalling software we are hoping that parents who would otherwise not think about this type of security device will see the benefits and make a decision to source their own software package and install it - something which isn't happening at the moment," added Moir.

The fully customisable software will be loaded on all Comet's own-brand machines from September and will be free for one year. After that, users will have to pay £27 for an annual subscription. Those without Comet PCs can also access the software at the same price.

Children's charity NCH hopes the move will encourage other vendors to follow suit.

"Comet is in talks with other manufacturers to encourage them to install the software on to their machines. Our aim to get all manufacturers and resellers to install safety software," said John Carr, spokesman at NCH. "It is essential these facilities are set by default, so that parents don't have to go hunting for software," he added.

NCH hopes the software will educate parents on the dangers of the internet and they will in turn pass that knowledge on to their children.

"You can't rely on this software being on every machine a child uses. It's about education; technical tools alone are not enough," said Carr.

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