Fostering a Secure Tomorrow (FAST) Launches with Congressional Briefing
Symantec Educates Politicians on the Importance of Keeping Foster Youth Safe Online
By Kim Allman, Director, Government Affairs, Symantec - Consumer
Engaging local, regional, national, and international government stakeholders helps Symantec better accomplish our mission to protect our customers. From consumer privacy to online safety to securing data to intellectual property protection, we engage government and lawmakers to build awareness of the issues affecting our industry, business, products, and customers.
Last Tuesday, Symantec met with US congressional representatives to discuss online safety for a specific group – foster youth.
What many are not aware of is that young people in foster care face a range of unique risks when it comes to identity protection and cyber security. For example, before reaching the age of 18, many foster youths have already become targets for identity theft and had their credit destroyed.
The engagement marked the launch of a new, exciting corporate responsibility initiative, Fostering a Secure Tomorrow (FAST) to help foster youth between the ages of 16-21 restore their identities and curb the heightened risks of identity theft. FAST will help those affected by identity theft, by offering cyber security education, access to donated Symantec/Norton software products and restorative services from LifeLock. Additionally, Symantec employees will mentor youth, provide program training and act as advocates on behalf of the program, working with public officials to build stronger policies that protect foster children.
We were honored to launch this initiative in the US Capitol Washington, D.C., which included briefings to staff from the House of Representatives and Senate on foster youth and identity theft. We were hosted by the House Foster Youth Caucus and the Congressional Cyber Security Caucus, and also had meetings with Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). The briefings and meetings were a great opportunity to educate policymakers on the threat and impacts of identity theft and the role that Symantec is playing in combatting these risks both by helping protect people’s private data, but also through repairing and restoring personal data that has been impacted.
A variety of representatives from Symantec and our partners joined us to educate congress on the need for programs like FAST including:
- Cecily Joseph, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility who provided an introduction to the program, highlighted the role FAST will play in Symantec’s broader commitment to keep our communities safe, and moderated a Q&A with representatives of Congress at the closing of the session.
- Fran Rosch, Executive Vice President, Symantec, Consumer Business Unit who discussed the development of the program, its key components and how Symantec will bring together its world-class products, industry expertise, and forge the critical partnerships to help educate foster youth on the dangers of identity theft.
Fran discussed how he was made aware of the risks foster youth faced when the company acquired the LifeLock identity theft protection business last year. He highlighted the stunning statistics – by the age of 18, as many as half of America’s foster youth have had their credit destroyed by fraudsters.
Additionally, he emphasized that the impact is not just in the immediate for foster youth. For example, as adults seeking to establish credit, they often become aware that as children thousands of dollars in credit card debt was accrued under their name without their knowledge. He discussed how after learning more about this issue, the company made a commitment to not only continue, but expand its involvement and incorporate the additional strengths Symantec brings to the table with security expertise and innovative technology to help address this problem.
- Eva Velasquez, President and CEO, Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) who spoke about identity theft at large, ITRC’s research, and the data and trends showing how youth are exposed to and impacted by identity theft.
- Serita Cox, Co-Founder/Executive Director, iFOSTER who shined a light on the risks for foster youth specifically and foster youth identity theft trends within California where the first FAST program partners are located. For example, in California nearly a quarter of foster youth have a credit issue before they turn 18.
As Fran Rosch highlighted at the briefing “Symantec is building a future where everyone can enjoy the benefits of digital security without worry. And, through the FAST program, we hope to provide foster youth with more control over their own futures.”
To learn more about the Fostering a Secure Tomorrow (FAST) initiative, to access resources or to get involved, please visit the FAST website at: https://www.symantec.com/about/corporate-responsibility/your-information/fostering-a-secure-tomorrow.