While at the World Economic Forum
in Davos this morning, I had an important discussion with Sheryl Sandberg
, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; we talked about protecting children, and new data protection rules.
One of my priorities under the Digital Agenda is to ensure that children use new technologies in the safest way possible to learn, play, communicate and be creative. Facebook is already one of the parties to the EU's Safer Social Networking Principles
. But keeping children safe online is a shared responsibility, for all sectoral players, wherever they lie along the value chain - they all have a role to play, depending on how their devices or services engage with children as users.
So last year, I launched an invitation for CEOs of some of the biggest players on the market
to join a coalition to lead the implementation of measures - not just principles, but concrete implementations.
To concentrate minds, I have asked them to focus on 5 specific issues:
- simple and robust reporting tools for abuses
- age-appropriate privacy settings
- wider use of content classification
- wider availability and use of parental control tools, and
- effective takedown of child abuse material
And I am very glad that, back in December, Facebook became a founding member
of this "CEO Coalition" to make a Better Internet for Kids.
I expect an open debate and agreement on concrete actions in the five areas, that can be implemented by the end of the year. A first review of progress will take place in July.
I know it is a challenge. I encouraged Sheryl, as COO of a major player in this space, to provide support to the teams in charge of this initiative and also to mobilise technical staff, so that the Coalition can deliver results.
We also - not surprisingly! - discussed the recent Commission proposal for a new regulation on data protection.
Sheryl was very happy about the objective of a truly common European space for data protection, which is a major advantage for all online businesses. We also dived into the implications of the right to be forgotten, the age when children can sign on for online services like social networks, and future-proof ways for people to give consent in order to exercise genuine control of their data.
And we ended on a high note too: talking about how social networks can help to gather data - of course aggregated to protect privacy - to help shape the response to public health problems. Like predicting the pace and geographic spread of an outbreak of flu, using early reported symptoms among friend networks. A very worthwhile project - made easier by our data protection proposal.