The European Commission has today, Safer Internet Day, announced the creation of new Expert Group on Safer Internet for Children, which will help improve coordination and cooperation between EU Member States and propose concrete actions that can be taken to keep children safe when using the internet. The first meeting of the expert group will take place in Brussels on 6 March 2019.
The group, composed of representatives from EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, will discuss a range of topics, from how to protect children from access to harmful content - for example through age ratings and parental controls - to how to avoid unfair commercial practices in online advertising directed at children.
One particular aim of the group is to facilitate the sharing of best practice between Member States on how to implement some of the specific provisions concerning minors in key existing legal acts. These include for example measures to protect minors from harmful content in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) or rules on requiring parental consent to access children’s data covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said:
“I am pleased to announce the creation of the expert group today, on Safer Internet Day 2019. On this day, we focus more than ever on ways to enhance safe, positive and inclusive use of digital technology, especially among children and young people. This year’s slogan, Together for a Better Internet, is a timely reminder that no one country or organisation can act effectively on its own when it comes to internet safety. The coordination and cooperation between Member States is just as important in that regard as the valuable work it will do on proposing concrete actions.”
Alliance to better protect minors online
Working together has always been central to the Commission’s approach to internet safety. Safer Internet Day 2017 saw the launch of the Alliance to better protect minors online, a self-regulatory platform composed of almost 40 key players, from leading media and ICT companies and device manufacturers to civil society organisations and UNICEF. The Alliance has focused on the wider issue of keeping children safe from harmful content, conduct and contact through a coordinated approach from companies and other stakeholders.
An independent study has analysed the work of the Alliance in the 18 months since its inception, finding that the range and quality of its members make it a particularly effective means of tackling this issue. One key strength of the Alliance, according to the report, is its ability to enhance company level focus on existing activities - reflected in the fact that most companies involved have successfully met their commitments. The study also offers concrete recommendations on how to improve the work of the Alliance, for example, setting new and more measurable commitments and stepping up its efforts on the exchange of best practice.
The Commission is also releasing today the results of the #SaferInternet4EU campaign on online safety, media literacy and cyber-hygiene which ran throughout much of 2018. The figures show that around 15,500 schools were reached and nearly 10,000 organisations were involved in last year’s Safer Internet Day, while throughout the year as a whole, nearly 30 million EU citizens were reached, providing them with more than 1,800 new resources covering themes such as fake news, cyberbullying, privacy concerns, grooming, sexting and cyber hygiene.