Fabian Demicoli

Safer Internet Day 2013: “Connect with Respect”


On
5th February, Safer Internet Day 2013, the Commission has presented the results
of joint work of media, technology, telecoms and online companies undertaken since
their December 2011 commitment to make the internet a better and safer place
for kids (see IP/11/1485).
29
leading companies involved in this self-regulatory exercise have reported on
how they will collectively set a new benchmark for child protection online.

As
a result of their commitments, all devices (including smartphones, tablets,
computers and games consoles) could be equipped with parental control tools and
screens with simple tools for users to report harmful content and contact. The
industry is also working to ensure that parents are aware of, and make use of,
these tools. In addition, best practices have been established in terms of
age-appropriate privacy settings and effective take down of child abuse
material. Also very promising is the commitments received on technology tools
to promote wider use of content classification. Commitments will be deployed
during 2013.

The
average age for first going online in Europe is seven. Safer Internet Day 2013
is all about online rights and responsibilities, to encourage people online of
all ages to "Connect with Respect". Events are taking place across
the EU and worldwide and, as of 2014, the EU and US will 'celebrate' Safer
Internet Day" on the same day.

European
Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said "I am very happy that these
leading companies have responded to the call and worked together across sectors
to produce concrete results. Child protection should get Board level attention.
More is needed. I look forward to implementation in 2013 and to seeing a new
benchmark emerging in the on-line industry: child protection by default".

Company
statements, published today on the Digital Agenda website, show that the
coalition has delivered concrete improvements for children:

Tools
to report online abuse or bullying are gradually becoming universal. Some
companies are going one step further and cooperating with hotlines, for
instance Telefónica, Vodafone, KPN's Meldknop or applications like SecondFriend
available on Google. Facebook has developed the Support Dashboard which enables
staff to better follow up on reports of abuse or content which violates
Facebook community standards and for users to see what action is being taken in
response.

Parental
control tools are now available across more products (computers, tablets,
smartphones games devices, as well as connected TV sets) and services, with
more coming in 2013. For example France Telecom is developing a tool for
tablets and smart phones, and parental controls will be in all of LG's mobile
devices as of April this year. A Commission study confirms this wider
availability but notes that while tools are good at blocking pornographic
materials, there has been limited progress in blocking violent, racist or other
harmful content. Companies are already providing information about their tools
or implementing them by active choice, or by default (Microsoft or Nintendo).
Companies including France Telecom, Mediaset, TeliaSonera, Tuenti and Telecom
Italia are also planning information campaigns for parents.

Content
ratings for apps, online videos and films now widely used based on companies'
own rating systems, or those of national and international bodies. A Technical
Task Force involving companies (including Deutsche Telekom, Mediaset, Nokia,
Opera, Orange, RIM, Telefónica, Vodafone), content rating agencies and
technical experts will work in 2013 to align content systems and ensure that
devices will be able to determine the age-classification of materials.

The
coalition has defined and shared best practices for age-appropriate privacy
settings. All companies are giving up to date information about their privacy
settings which will soon be searchable so that parents, teachers and children
can make better decisions about their privacy on line. Companies have also
committed to make available age-appropriate privacy settings and to offer clear
and understandable information in language that is appropriate for a younger
audience

The
industry is open about what it does to filter out child sexual abuse material
before it is reported, and to take down offensive materials. It is committed to
improving dialogue and links with abuse report hotlines and law enforcement
bodies. In 2012 hotlines to report sexual abuse materials have become more
efficient in monitoring the notice and take down process. Law enforcement
bodies have speeded up their response time in major hosting countries.

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