Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Making the internet a better place for kids

Article
A review of progress since we launched a coalition to coordinate action on this point.

- Posted by Robert Madelin, Director General of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology

I have enjoyed chairing on 11.07.2012 a full day's discussion with a broad range of stakeholders. We have reviewed progress since Neelie launched with key CEOs a coalition to deliver urgent coordinated action on this point.

There were 5 key action points:

  1. Simple and robust reporting tools: easy-to-find and recognisable features on all devices to enable effective reporting and responses to content and contacts that seem harmful to kids;
  2. Age-appropriate privacy settings: settings which take account of the needs of different age groups (such settings determine how widely available a user's information is; for example whether contact details or photos are available only to close contacts rather than to the general public);
  3. Wider use of content classification: to develop a generally valid approach to age-rating, which could be used across sectors and provide parents with understandable age categories;
  4. Wider availability and use of parental control: user-friendly tools actively promoted to achieve the widest possible take-up;
  5. Effective takedown of child abuse material: to improve cooperation with law enforcement and hotlines, to take proactive steps to remove child sexual abuse material from the internet.

We have made pretty good progress in multi-stakeholder working groups in the last few months. Progress does not mean success, and in some areas (notably content classification and to my surprise the take-down of Child Abuse Material ) we need to work harder. But I am confident that CEOs will by year-end have some new "best practice" tools that can be used to improve the younger EU citizen's Internet experience, and build the trust of kids and grown-ups alike in the growing possibilities of our online world.

 

A report on progress towards delivering the 5 actions and a report of the meeting on 11.07.2012 will be available online on 19th July on the following site: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sip/self_reg/index_en.htm

Comments

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I rarely leave a response, but i did a few searching and wound up here Making the internet a better place for kids - European Commission. And I do have some questions for you if you tend not to mind. Could it be just me or does it look like some of the comments appear as if they are coming from brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are writing on additional online social sites, I'd like to keep up with anything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of your social pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?
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What do you mean by brain dead visitors? Please see, under the "Follow online" section, our social media accounts: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/local/follow/index_en.htm
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There are enough good people in this world to make IT happen. Keep at it. Well done.
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"Wider availability and use of parental control: user-friendly tools actively promoted to achieve the widest possible take-up" This will in no way substitute for adult supervision, indeed, some think telling parents their internet connection is safe because it's filtered will expose kids to *more* inappropriate material. Filters are terrible at blocking inappropriate content and often block by accident content to which kids *should* have access - e.g. sites about reproductive health. Meanwhile guardians don't notice because they're not supervising well enough because they think the computer is doing it for them... What steps are you taking to help parents teach their kids how to be safe online and to supervise them effectively?
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So where is medie competence in this list? You won't get anywhere with filtering, filtering and again filtering (and content classification). Teach children how to use the internet (and parents as well). Tell parents to browse the web with their children and explain to them what the see. The rest is trust (both ways). Kids will find the stuff they are not supposed to see anyway (esp. porn because that what we all wanted to see in that age).  Moreover filters are a bad sign for teaching freedom.  Similar for child porn: Yes, take it down! Don't hide it! Take it down! And prosecute those who do it! Filtering is hiding and this only means that there needs to be some list which will leak and which will be a "shopping list" for child porn consumers. Don't do that! Also who decides what needs to be on that list? Only a judge can do that! We have seen enough leaked lists with enough sites which did not belong on that list. Also pedophiles of course know how to get around these filters.  So save the free internet and go after the bad guys. Do the opposite and declare a we-will-never-filter rule. This will help the internet and all of us more than any symbolic filtering can do.  And on a sidenote: What have these CEOs to do with it? Education is key here so bring the right people in to discuss how to do better education in this area. Esp. an ISPs task is only to deliver bits from one end to the other, nothing more, no tampering, no filtering, no surveillance.  And please provide live streams of these discussions and let us participate because this affects all of us and not only some CEOs who are supposed to deliver some "clean internet" (who defines that anyway?).  So please work on keeping the internet as free as possible esp. for our children.
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I run a number of kids gaming websites and I find it tough trying to put any "legimate" age ratings on the games I host (as the games themselves do not have any ratings within them), so any form of regulation would be welcomed.
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I don't think that the Internet can be safe for the kids since there are lots of junks in the Internet which are harmful for the kids. I hope that the Internet will not allow things that will affect the morality of the kids. However if the Internet only wants money for their profit this will make the Internet a lot more junky and will make kids life not good turn out in the future.

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I think it is an enormous task. The solution can be only way. That is submitting an open letter to internet giants like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple. Most of the people rely on search machines to find those sites. If they do not allow and promote those sites, what is the problem then? For me that is the only way.
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