• Deputy Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission

    Claire Bury

German initiative FragFINN is a search engine which provides a secure online place for young children (6-12 years old)

I had the pleasure of chairing a high level round table of the "Alliance to better protect minors online", our multi-stakeholder initiative to tackle harmful content on 7th of February and then to open the meeting of the Alliance on 7th June, when all the 22 endorsing companies had submitted their individual statements.

One of the members of the Alliance is Super RTL, the German television network targeting children, operated by RTL Disney Television. The CEO Claude Schmit met Vice-President Ansip on Monday 26 June to discuss the efforts of Super RTL to provide a safe environment for children. He notably explained their German initiative FragFINN, a search engine which provides a secure online place for young children (6-12 years old) building on a white list of 12,000 web resources. It is available for fixed and mobile devices. It is run by FragFinn e.V., a non-profit association co-founded by Super RTL and other telecommunications, online media companies (such as Deutsche Telecom, Vodafone, Google, Disney) and industry associations. It is part of the German government initiative "Safe on the net".

With further recent innovations like accessibility for children with disabilities and enhanced search functions, it has become the most popular search engine for children in Germany and it has won several awards, including in 2016 the "Google Impact Challenge".

As we know, children are going online from a very young age - they need guidance, tools and supervision. The white list approach guarantees an optimal level of protection and safety. However, as children get older, more resources need to be made available.

There are good resources available for some national languages, for example, in Germany, which is one of the few Member States to have a dedicated policy on the creation and/or identification of quality resources. There is also the possibility of an expert assessment and review process to qualify the resources as child-appropriate. Unfortunately, in many languages resources are still scarce.

We are now looking to see how to promote and scale up good practices like FragFINN across the EU through the Alliance and the Betterinternetforkids.eu platform.