Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Delivering a better internet for kids

Have you ever worried about whether the online world is safe for children? Whether it's a safe place for kids to explore, learn and play? Me too. And today there's some excellent news as a new industry coalition has committed to ensuring real and consistent solutions to protect and empower children online. The Internet can be a great place for kids – whether it's to research schoolwork, chat to friends, or look at the latest celebrity gossip, it's somewhere where kids should be able to explore, interact, express themselves, and most of all have fun. But equally we shouldn't be naïve. There are threats and dangers on the Internet for children. From malicious behaviour like bullying—to horrible crimes like child pornography, exploitation and grooming. I'm convinced that kids can have a great time online: and that child safety is everyone's responsibility. I want children, parents and teachers to have simple, transparent and consistent protection tools to deal with these risks while making the most of this online world. Just like in the "offline world", where we don't forbid our kids from ever crossing the street, but we teach them how to do it safely. Kids and adults should be aware of online dangers, able to protect themselves from them, and able to report threats. In this area, regulation – rigid laws coming from Brussels - is not necessarily the right way forward. Self-regulation by the industry can develop tools that are produced more quickly; that react more flexibly given the fast-moving technological environment; and that more effectively achieve the goal of protecting and empowering children online. And that's why I called on the industry to come up with these tools – things like:
  • Simple and robust ways to report harmful content
  • Respecting kids privacy through age-appropriate privacy settings on social networks
  • Tools to classify or age-rate content
  • Parental controls and
  • Effective takedown, so that child sex abuse material is removed quickly.
To do this takes all parts of the industry working together, from social networks and software developers, to device manufacturers and network providers. I'm delighted that, today, the industry has taken up this challenge, and agreed to form a new industry coalition, and dedicate their resources to finding proportionate, pragmatic solutions to real problems. You can see their full list of the areas they are looking at, in their "statement of purpose". And you can also check out the European Commission's own webpage on the issue, or see the commitments from each of the participating coalition members by following the links below. So a big well done and congratulations to those founding members taking part in this coalition: Apple, BSkyB, BT, Dailymotion, Deutsche Telekom AG, Facebook, France Telecom-Orange, Google, Hyves, KPN, Liberty Global, LG Electronics, Mediaset, Microsoft, Netlog, Nintendo, Nokia, Opera Software, Research in Motion, RTL Group, Samsung, Sulake, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Telenor Group, Tuenti, Vivendi, and Vodafone.
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  • Caroline I - International Parents's picture

    Sounds like great news, but in the spirit of the Intenet, shouldn't individuals (parents, teachers, kids themselves) be involved in this process too? Maybe they can also come up with idea and solutions, as well as help spread the word on how to make Internet use safe for children and teens, à la " crowd sourcing". As a professional in the online space and a parent, I'm interested in participating.  I'm based in France. I've also put together an online network for parents with an international outlook to help them connect on a local and global basis. Its called International Parents.  Contrary to major social nets,  signing up is tightly controlled, privacy highly protected and based on a freemium membership model vs advertising.  An example of another vision of the Internet.  I'd love to count you as one of our patrons.  If interested in finding more about it, please contact me by mail so I can send you an invitation sign up link.    
  • Shanto's picture

    Zal wel. Loopt tog op censuur uit. Ik heb al genoeg gezien in me leven om te weten waar dit op uitdraaid. Probleem ligt helaas ergens anders; opvoeding! Vroeger, zeg maar voor de tijd van internet, ging je toch ook niet vrijwillig je telefoonnummer of mogelijk pikante foto's of doodsbedreigingen op school ophangen? Want dat waren normen en waarden waar je je aan hield. Ouders moeten hun kinderen opvoeden: als je niet je middelvinger opsteekt naar de agent die op straat loopt, dan post je ook niet je middelvinger op HyveBookTube ofzo. Dat nu dus andere bedrijven maar gaan bepalen wat er wel/niet wordt getoond is onzin; als je van je vriendje te horen krijgt dat je je moet aanmelden op site X en dan bij je geboortedatum moet invullen dat je uit 1993 bent, krijg je toch wel overal toegang toe. Door dit soort maatregelen van betrokken partijen ga je dus minderjarige kinderen op sommige momenten "dwingen" het grijze (en meer oncontroleerbare) gebied van internet op te zoeken.
  • Prof. Massimo Sconvolto's picture

    Dear Miss Kroes, personally, as parent of a two years child, I think your idea sounds great but how we can fight with "industries" like Google? Google owns youtube, a day I was looking for some trailer, my son likes a lot Teletubbies and Winnie The Pooh, and this is what I found that day. The important thing is that, at the and of the video, they show "related" video and you can have a look how many violence and things hard to explain to a child you can find simply seeking for "Winnie the Pooh" on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2bS-O2xDxg I hope you, and if you accept common people's contribution I too, can, at the end, create a better and safer web for our children. Prof. Massimo Sconvolto Founder of forming party Nuovo Risorgimento Italiano http://www.nuovorisorgimentoitaliano.it
  • Kai Boroch's picture

    Making the World better for Children don´t give Crimanals like Guttenberg Jobs in your Commison its a shame
  • Mike's picture

    Dear Mrs Kroes, to be quite honest, I can merely partially agree with you. > Have you ever worried about whether the online world is safe for children? Whether it’s a safe place > for kids to explore, learn and play? The Internet per se is no place for children or minors in general, solely a couple of forums (applying adequate rules) or websites might be—in fact, it hadn't been designed for being "child-friendly"! Though the Internet is great for diversity and diversion (as yet), it is, however, no playground for kids and, even more important, shouldn't be treated as such, so asking how the Internet could be "optimized", in other words: crippled for children, is the entirely wrong way! The Internet is a virtual reflection of society, there certainly are also peculiar, filthy or dangerous corners out there, and relatives or teachers mustn't allow children to go online without any control—as they won't allow a 10 year-old to drink alcohol. > There are threats and dangers on the Internet for children. From malicious behaviour like bullying—to horrible > crimes like child pornography, exploitation and grooming. Please do not mix up things here: Severe crimes like exploitation or child abuse take place in the offline world and must be fought there (i.e. in children's homes, families, schools, scout camps, sport clubs; in Church...). If you're talking about certain depictions of underage kids, recent experiences in Germany have shown, that such incriminated material had been taken down by authorities in no time. Concerning bullying or grooming, self-regulation by the industrie might be an option, particularly when it comes to data privacy and protection of information. However, one promising, long-term solution is teaching children (also teachers, social workers, maybe even parents) some sort of "new media comptence", like the "dos and don'ts" of using the Internet and social media. Strengthening personal rights and prescribing minimum standards for social networks may be an idea worth discussing. Also, one should keep clearly in mind that malignant behaviour online derives from behaviour shown offline as well. The latter has to be targeted first; we simply cannot blame the Internet for everything... With kind regards, Mike
  • Martin Ward's picture

    Hands off the Internet infrastructure, please! Do not try to make it "child-friendly", you'll end up ruining it – as the EU did with projects like the notorious Data Retention Policy: a plain [word deleted]! Don't pay attention to astrologers, and neither to "shady" politicians and organizations like Innocence in Danger (for which your advisor Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg is a lobbyist) with the main interest of raising online censorship to "combat depictions of (optional: sexually abused) children [or young(er)-looking teenagers, adults...]" – apart from raising a significant amount of money, of course. Here are some useful links worth checking out: - "WhiteIT", an insight by Christian Bahls, chairperson MOGiS e.V. - "Child pornography is great", states danish IFPI lobbyist in 2007 - Filtering Fact Sheets by Electronic Frontiers, Australia - "Der Zweck heiligt nicht jedes Mittel" (The end doesn't justify any mean) by MOGiS e.V. [German]
  • Frank Pinhope's picture

    Martin - a part from slamming people and promoting a totally unserious NGO like MOGiS and thefounder Bahls, your idea of ignoring the majority of the users who are witnessing challenges greater than their ability to cope with them is appalling. Clearly, you have lost the plot and failed to see that as a societal great, the Internet and associated services are either kept behind closed walls or tailored so that everyone cna make use of it. The latter requires interventions, some of which Comissioner Kroes are atempting to create. Well done, Commissioner!
  • dobberpapa's picture

    (For eng.: useyour Google translate or thelike pls) 2012/01/21 23:23 -- Het klinkt positief, hoewel ik op het 1e nieuws in december 2011 dacht: de put dempen als 't kalf verdronken is.. Preventiever denken en werken is essentieel. Een deel van die bedrijfsmoguls en hun dienaren heeft zelf natuurlijk ook kinderen en ervaren de effecten van ontbreken van dit belangrijke Beschermen van kinderen mogelijk. Dat andere deel roept mijn MAAR op: hoe integer is de 'onderneming' nu: Er staat: ".. dedicate their resources to finding proportionate, pragmatic solutions to REAL problems. You can see their full list of the areas they are loo.." 1v2) Is dat politiek voor: ALLEEN ALS er problemen zijn? Want het moet en MOET wel gaan om PREVENTIE. Dat was precies waar het aan schortte. Men zal er aan moeten geloven, de bijvoorbeeld pedofiele topfiguren in bedrijven eruit te halen (hun invloed op politiek benoemingsbeleid weghalen). Net zoals van de week de criminelen van de Koobfaceworm door Facebook zijn bekendgemaakt. Rigoureus? Minder dan wat bijv. pedo's met kinderen flikken! 2v2) Is de context gericht op bestuderen of oplossen? Warm van de pers is hier in NL het 'fantastische' initiatief voor een leerstoel om bijv. de Raad voor de Kinderbe(......) onder de loep te nemen. Ik heb daar zeer gemengde gevoelens bij. Zoals dat de huidige SG het echt wel leuk zal vinden..: tijd rekken ('zijn de sporen nu gewist'?) en 'bestuderen' van geïllustreerde (natuurlijk!) verslagen van wantoestanden zoals met de Amsterdamse creche ''t hofnarretje'. En dan nog die 400 verdwenen kinderen bij Jeugdzorg... Iig: frisse lucht en daglicht over foute zaken heeft de meeste kans dat die zaken verdwijnen dus INTEGER OPEN is 1.
  • Cynical's picture

    Well, let me cite the great american writer Robert A. Heinlein on this (= censorship): "The whole principle is wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak." It's exactly what you're aiming at, Mrs. Kroes...
  • Bellie's picture

    Mijn opinie in deze is dat het vooral een bewustwordingsproces dient te zijn. Ik groeide op in een tijd zonder internet. Als ik naar buiten ging, zei mijn moeder altijd om niet met vreemde mensen mee te gaan. Zo zou dat ook met kinderen op internet moeten zijn. Ouders dienen bewust te zijn, maar ik zie ook een taak voor scholen weg gelegd om de kinderen te waarschuwen voor de gevaren. Met alleen technologische oplossingen kom je er niet. Die zijn door kinderen, maar ook door de gluiperds om het net te omzeilen. Uiteindelijk moet je zien te voorkomen dat kinderen met de verkeerde mensen via internet in aanraking komen. Zeker nu ze ook allemaal met een mobieltje toegang hebben tot internet waardoor toezicht nog lastiger wordt.
  • Euroteken's picture

    I personally don't believe in safe internet. Aslong as money is going digital there allways be internet criminals going after them with viruses/spam/spyware etc. In my opinion children should have restricted type of internet but that already exists, there are different parental control software programs out there that parents should buy and install to prevent their kids seeing what they shouldn't (like shocking footage/porn/vandalism). But i think in this modern age, this kind of stuff should be told and explained to parents at schools. Many people don't even have a mild idea of the types of solutions.  

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