Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (2006 recommendation)
This recommendation calls for a further step to be taken towards establishing effective cooperation between the Member States, the industry and other interested parties as regards the protection of minors and human dignity in the broadcasting and Internet services sectors. It supplements Council Recommendation 98/560/EC on the same subject, taking into account recent technological developments and the changing media landscape.
Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and on-line information services industry [Official Journal L 378 of 27.12.2006].
The emergence of new information and communication technology demands constant vigilance when it comes to protecting the rights of the individual. It must be ensured that the content of audiovisual and information services stays within the law, respects the principle of human dignity and does not impair the development of minors.
To create a "European media area" that respects freedom of expression and, at the same time, the rights of the consumer, action will be required at all levels: European level, by Member States, and by the industry and other parties concerned.
ACTION AT MEMBER STATE LEVEL
The recommendation calls on Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that minors and human dignity are better protected across all audiovisual and on-line information services.
Right of reply across all media
Member States are invited to consider introducing measures regarding the right of reply or equivalent remedies in relation to on-line media.
Promoting responsible use by minors
The recommendation invites Member States to take measures to enable minors to make responsible use of audiovisual and on-line information services. This could involve improving the level of awareness among parents, teachers and trainers of the potential of the new services and of the means whereby they may be made safe for minors.
Promoting a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users
Member States are invited to promote a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users by:
- encouraging the audiovisual and on-line information services industry to avoid all discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and to combat any such discrimination;
- encouraging vigilance and the reporting of pages considered illegal;
- drawing up a code of conduct in cooperation with professionals and regulatory authorities at national and Community level.
Combating illegal activity
A key role is ascribed to measures to combat illegal activity that is likely to be harmful to minors on the Internet. The recommendation proposes that the following measures be taken:
- awarding a quality label to service providers so that users can easily check whether or not a given provider subscribes to a code of conduct;
- establishing appropriate means for the reporting of illegal and/or suspicious activities on the Internet.
ACTION AT INDUSTRY LEVEL
Apart from the Member States, the audiovisual and on-line information services industry and other parties concerned are also urged to take action to ensure respect for human dignity and the protection of minors in the services they offer.
Positive measures for the benefit of minors
The recommendation suggests that a number of initiatives be adopted, including greater cooperation between the regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory bodies of the Member States. It also encourages the exchange of best practices concerning such issues as a system of common descriptive symbols or warning messages which would help users to assess the content of the services.
The industry is urged to examine the possibility of creating filters which would prevent information offending against human dignity from passing through the Internet. It is also encouraged to develop measures to increase the use of content labelling systems for material distributed over the Internet.
The recommendation invites the industry to find effective means of fighting any incitement to discrimination in audiovisual and on-line information services. In addition, it should promote a diversified and realistic picture of the skills and potential of men and women in society.
Apart from its activity in the context of the 2005-2008 Community programme for a safer Internet, the Commission intends to take a number of initiatives to promote the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and on-line information services. These involve, in particular:
- introducing a European freephone number to provide Internet users with information on issues relating to the protection of minors and human dignity;
- possible support for the establishment of a generic second-level domain name reserved for monitored sites committed to respecting minors and their rights;
- support for the formation of networks by self-regulatory bodies and the exchanging of experience among them, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of codes of conduct and approaches based on self-regulation.