Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

Focus

Child-proof the Internet or face regulation warns EU Commission

  • The EU Commission has warned that it will propose regulation if the software industry fails to protect children online. (Photo: Bombardier)

The European Commission has threatened to table a comprehensive set of child internet safety rules if the software industry fails to self-regulate to protect children online.

Unveiling its "European strategy for a better internet for children' on Wednesday (2 May), the Commission said that with 75% of children regularly accessing the web, targeted measures were needed to protect them online and improve digital literacy.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Among its proposals, the EU executive has called on the IT industry to draw-up an EU-wide mechanism allowing children to report harmful content, age-appropriate privacy settings, and make stricter use of age rating to prevent children from accessing violent or pornographic material online.

But it warned that it would propose binding legislation "if self-regulation fails to deliver".

In January, a group of the world’s leading information and communication technology firms launched an industry Coalition for a Safer Internet for Children and Young People. In it they set out plans to develop panic buttons and a “report trigger” by mid-2012 to make it easy for parents and children to report harmful content.

In their mission statement, the coalition claimed that they would work to “ensure that children and young people obtain the greatest benefit from new technologies, while avoiding the challenges and risks which are of concern to people worldwide.”

The move by the Commission is an attempt to respond to rising concerns among parents and policy-makers that light-touch online regulation is failing to combat on-line bullying and grooming on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as child sex abuse on the Internet. In 2010, a report by the IWF identified over 16,700 instances of child sexual abuse content on the web, while a survey conducted by the EU Kids Online project reported that 4 in 10 children had communicated with strangers online, been exposed to dangerous content or suffered cyber-bullying.

There are also fears about new online services, particularly with tablet phones, that pose new threats to child safety. The market for mobile phone apps, which are widely used by under-16s, and which has been described as a regulatory 'wild west', was a €5bn industry in 2011 and is expected to soar to €32bn by 2015. Meanwhile, new software such as geo-location can be used to trace a child's location.

The Commission also demanded swift implementation by industry of legislation aimed at combating child sex abuse and pornography, as well as e-commerce and data protection rules, citing IWF evidence that over 40% of websites promoting child sex abuse were hosted in either Europe or Russia.

Launching the strategy with fellow Commissioners Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström commented that "young people are particularly at ease with the use of the Internet but they are still vulnerable to online threats."

She added that it was vital to "reinforce cooperation at European and international levels to combat cybercrime, and especially the most horrible acts such as sexual exploitation."

Kroes demands internet security strategy

EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes Tuesday reiterated her call for an EU-wide internet security strategy, arguing that EU authorities have not done enough to establish defence mechanisms to prevent cyber attacks.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary