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17th Feb 2019

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Child pornography targeted by EU safer internet programme

The European Commission has proposed a new €55 million 'Safer Internet' programme to tackle child pornography, grooming and digital bullying.

As the online world develops – with new Web 2.0 services such as social networking on sites such as Facebook or MySpace, and the massive growth in online multi-player gaming – so must Europe's efforts to protect children online develop, says the commission.

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Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: "Where there is illegal content online, rapid and determined action by public authorities will be ensured by strengthened reporting systems."

The new programme builds on an existing Safer Internet endeavour begun in 2005, and will run from 2009 to 2013.

Information society commissioner Viviane Reding echoed the president's comments: "The need for action is increasing in response to new uses of technology."

Specifically, the programme effort has four major strands: reducing illegal content and harmful content online; promoting a safer online environment generally; raising public awareness of the issue; and establishing a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children.

The programme hopes to create national contact points for reporting illegal content and digital bullying, but focusing on pornographic material and the 'grooming' of youngsters.

Grooming refers to actions taken to befriend a minor in order to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation for sexual abuse or rape.

Youth panels involving kids themselves, as well as other actions targeting parents and teachers would aim at both improving the online environment and ensuring children and adults close to them are knowledgable about such illegal activities online and what they look like. The commission would also like to see the establishment of national awareness centres that can offer advice on how to stay safe.

The knowlege base, meanwhile, would bring together researchers to better understand how children use the internet and mobile phones, as well as the effect these technologies have on them.

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