Education Secretary John Swinney has been urged to intervene after The Courier revealed how a social networking tool made available to every schoolchild in Scotland had been infiltrated by predators.
Leading politicians have now joined NSPCC Scotland in calling for the Scottish Government to look at how content on the ubiquitous Yammer app is being monitored to protect children.
The tool, which enables every pupil and teacher to connect with one another as part of the Glow national digital learning platform, has already seen some headteachers halt any further rollout in their schools.
An investigation by The Courier discovered children had been contacted on the service by individuals identifying themselves as paedophiles and drug dealers, and that young users had been given access to violent and bloody horror images.
It further emerged that Education Scotland had been fully aware of the risk of children being identified and located “by someone who would wish to do them harm” but stakeholders decided the educational benefit “outweighs the risk”.
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “It is deeply worrying that not only is a Scottish Government-approved app exposing children to the risk of harm, but Education Scotland was warned about such risks before rolling out the system across the country.
“At a time when many parents worry about dangers online to their children, at the very least they should be confident of their safety at school.
“SNP Education Secretary John Swinney must intervene quickly to establish why risks were ignored and what, if any, harm has been done to our children.
“There can be no excuse for inaction when it comes to our children’s’ security.”
Mr Gray’s comments come after NSPCC Scotland insisted it was “vital that the Scottish Government and Education Scotland look at how this content is being moderated to ensure the safety of younger users”.
Bosses pulled the plug on access to the service over the weekend after The Courier highlighted concerns but it is understood the application is now back up and running.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith called for “answers from the top” over why children had been put at risk.
She said: “We have to embrace technology in our education system, including using apps such as these to enhance learning.”
“However, that must not come at the expense of children’s safety. It would appear this app has been abused by criminals and people with bad intentions, and that has to stop before any young person comes to harm.
“It’s not good enough for the SNP government to pass the buck to Education Scotland – we need to hear answers right from the top.”
What happened when we asked the Scottish Government for answers
The Courier approached the Scottish Government press office on Monday morning with a request to ask Mr Swinney what action he would be taking to keep children safe in the wake of the revelations.
The Scottish Government said it would pass the questions on to Mr Swinney through Education Scotland.
By late afternoon, when no one had responded, we went direct to Education Scotland and were told it had dealt with our questions last week and would not be commenting further.
Around 6.30pm, we received the following comment from the Scottish Government, on behalf of Mr Swinney: “As soon as concerns were raised with Education Scotland, as the body responsible, they acted swiftly and will continue to do so where necessary.”