Action plan for a Safer Internet 1999-2004
The "Safer Internet" action plan aims to foster a favourable environment for the development of the Internet industry by promoting safe use of the Internet and combating illegal or harmful content. The programme is based on three lines of action:
- creating a safer environment by establishing a European network of hotlines and encouraging self-regulation and codes of conduct;
- developing filtering tools;
- raising awareness.
Decision No 276/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 January 1999 adopting a multiannual Community action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks [See Amending acts].
The distinction between illegal and harmful content is important as these two types of content are dealt with differently:
- illegal content must be dealt with at source by the police and the judicial authorities, whose activities are covered by national legislation and judicial cooperation agreements. However, the industry can be of considerable assistance in restricting the circulation of illegal content (particularly in the case of child pornography, racism and anti-Semitism) by means of effective self-regulation schemes (such as codes of conduct and hotlines) governed and supported by legislation, and with consumer backing;
- harmful content is both that which is authorised but has restricted circulation (e.g. for adults only) and content which could be offensive to some users, even if publication is not restricted because of freedom of speech. Action to combat harmful content first and foremost means developing technology (filtering tools and rating mechanisms) to enable users to reject such content by promoting awareness among parents and fostering self-regulation, which could be an adequate way of protecting minors in particular.
Duration, financial framework
The four-year action plan (1 January 1999 to 31 December 2002) has been granted total funding of 25 million.
The action plan aims to promote the safer use of the Internet and to encourage, at European level, an environment favourable to the development of the Internet industry.
The action plan divides into four sections:
- establishing a safer environment through a European network of "hotlines" and by encouraging self-regulation and the adoption of codes of conduct;
- developing filtering and rating systems, in particular by highlighting their benefits and facilitating an international agreement on rating systems;
- encouraging awareness campaigns at all levels to inform parents and all people dealing with children (teachers, social workers, etc.) of the best way to protect minors against exposure to content that could be harmful to their development;
- conducting support activities to assess legal implications, providing coordination with similar international initiatives and assessing the impact of Community measures.
The Commission will be responsible for the following activities to achieve the programme's objectives:
- promoting industry self-regulation and content-monitoring schemes (especially dealing with content such as child pornography, racism and anti-Semitism);
- encouraging industry to provide filtering tools and rating mechanisms. The aim is to enable parents and teachers to select content appropriate for children in their care while allowing adults to decide what legal content they wish to access;
- increasing awareness of services provided by industry among users, in particular parents, teachers and children, so that they can better understand and take advantage of the opportunities of the Internet;
- support actions such as assessment of legal implications;
- activities fostering international cooperation.
In addition to the Member States of the EU, participation in this programme may be open to legal entities established in the EFTA countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), and to European international organisations. Participation may also be open to legal entities established in non-member countries which do not form part of the EEA and to non-European international organisations, where such participation contributes effectively to the implementation of the programme.
Extension of the programme until 2005
The action plan was extended until 31 December 2004 and the budget increased by 13.3 million to cover the two extra years.
New Safer Internet Plus action plan
In 2005 the Council adopted a Decision establishing the Safer Internet Plus programme aimed at promoting the safer use of the Internet and new online technologies. The programme will cover the years 2005-2008 and will follow on from the Safer Internet action plan (1999-2004).
|Act||Entry into force - Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Decision 276/99/EC [adoption: codecision COD/1997/0337]||26.2.1999||-||OJ L 33, 6.2.1999|
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Decision No 1151/2003/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2002/0071]||1.7.2003||-||OJ L 162, 1.7.2003|
Further information on the Safer Internet initiative is available on the European Commission's Information Society website .