Action 40: Member States to implement harmful content alert hotlines

What is the problem? Children are not safe online

Internet has become one of the main distribution channels for material (images, films, audio files etc.) depicting sexual abuse of children. Internet Watch Foundation confirmed 1.316 child abuse domains in 2009. The content is becoming worse over years: 44% of the images reported to the largest hotline depict serious abuse of a child; 70% of the victims are under the age of 10.

More and more European children go online via mobile phones and game consoles. More than 50% of 13-16 year olds go online from their bedroom and more than half of 9-16 year olds have a social networking profile. At the same time, young people are a vulnerable group as they do not always see the risks of their online actions, such as sharing personal information online or talking to people they have never met in real life.

Why is the EU action required? Improving children safety online EU-wide coordination is needed

Addressing risks and strengthening the online safety of children is a shared responsibility of individuals as much as of private and public bodies, both at home and globally.

The Commission supports the development of hotlines for reporting illegal online content (see action 36). It also encourages self-regulation by European service providers (see action 37). At the same time, while action in this field should be coordinated at EU level, it has to be implemented at national level. Thus, Member States are expected to provide the necessary financial and political support to Safer Internet Centres in their respective national jurisdictions. They should also develop a strategy on how best to teach online safety in schools.

What has the Commission done up to now?

Launch a European strategy for a better internet for children to give children the digital skills and tools they need to fully and safely benefit from being online (see action 36)

Launch a benchmarking exercise of safer internet policies and action across Europe including an analysis of the current resources used for these activities and their breakdown between the Commission and Member States

Online safety in schools:

European Schoolnet (EUN) – co-ordinator of INSAFE network, co-funded by the Safer Internet Programme, launched on Safer Internet Day 2012 the "eSafety label project" to provide Online safety support and accreditation for European schools. This is a multi-stakeholder project co-ordinate by EUN and involving a number of leading companies (Kaspersky Labs, Liberty Global, Microsoft, Telefonica) and European Education Ministries and educational organisations in Austria, Belgium-Flanders, Estonia Italy, Spain and Portugal).

What will the Commission do?

In 2013:

Continue to support the Safer Internet Centres established in all Member States and that run hotlines, awareness centres and helplines (see action 36)

A new EURYDICE survey on the implementation of online safety in schools may be launched. A previous survey was carried out in 2009 to identify how national education systems approach online safety issues faced by children and what children learn about online safety in school.