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Safer Internet Programme 2005-2008 (Safer Internet Plus)

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Internet penetration is still growing considerably in the countries of the European Union (EU). Alongside this, potentially dangerous - especially for children - and illegal content is continuing to develop. The Safer Internet Plus programme has been adopted to promote safer use of the Internet and to protect the end-user against unwanted content.

ACT

Decision No 854/2005/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 establishing a multiannual Community Programme on promoting safer use of the Internet and new online technologies.

SUMMARY

The Safer Internet Plus programme (2005-08) builds on the aim of its predecessor, the Safer Internet Action Plan (1999-2004), which was to foster the Internet-related industry while supporting safer use of the Internet and combating illegal and harmful content.

The new programme has been broadened in scope to include the new media (e.g. videos) and is explicitly designed to combat racism and also content unwanted by the end user ("spam"). It will focus more closely on end-users: parents, educators and children.

LINES OF ACTION

The activities undertaken under the programme are divided up into four lines of action.

Fighting against illegal content

Hotlines have been set up to allow members of the public to report illegal content. They pass the reports on to the appropriate body (an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the police, for example) for action. The Safer Internet Action Plan (1999-2004) expanded the hotline network and gave it an international reach. In order for the hotlines to develop their full potential, however, it is necessary to ensure Europe-wide coverage and cooperation and to increase their effectiveness through exchange of information, best practice and experience.

The new programme is thus geared towards the following activities:

  • funding hotlines, so that they can act at national level and cooperate with other centres in the European network of hotlines;
  • supporting telephone helplines for children confronted with illegal and harmful content;
  • collection of qualitative and quantitative data on the establishment and operation of hotlines;
  • launching incentive measures to speed up the process of setting up hotlines, and developing codes of conduct;
  • setting up a coordination centre for the network to raise its visibility at European level, improve its operational effectiveness and promote exchanges of information and experience.

Tackling unwanted and harmful content

The programme provides funding for technological measures which enable users to limit the amount of unwanted and harmful content, and manage the spam they receive. This heading includes:

  • assessing the effectiveness of available filtering technology;
  • facilitating and coordinating exchanges of information and best practices;
  • increasing take-up of content rating and quality-site labels;
  • if necessary, contributing to the accessibility of filter technology, notably in languages not adequately covered by the market.

Use of technology to enhance privacy will be encouraged.

Promoting a safer environment

A fully functioning system of self-regulation is an essential element in limiting the flow of unwanted, harmful and illegal content. Self-regulation involves a number of components: consultation and appropriate representation of the parties concerned, codes of conduct, national bodies facilitating cooperation at Community level, and national evaluation of self-regulation frameworks.

To improve self-regulation in the sector, the Commission is providing national co-regulatory or self-regulatory bodies with the Safer Internet Forum as a platform for exchanging experience. The Forum was set up in 2004 under the Safer Internet Action Plan.

Its objectives are as follows:

  • to stimulate networking of the appropriate structures within Member States and developing links with self-regulatory bodies outside Europe;
  • to stimulate self-regulation on issues such as quality rating of websites, cross-media content rating, rating and filtering techniques, extending them to new forms of content such as online games and new forms of access such as mobile phones;
  • to encourage service providers to draw up codes of conduct;
  • to promote research into the effectiveness of rating projects and filtering technologies.

Awareness-raising

These measures are aimed at the various categories of unlawful, unwanted and harmful content. They take account of related questions such as consumer protection, data protection and information and network security (viruses, spam, etc.).

The programme provides support to appropriate bodies, selected following an open call for proposals to act as awareness-raising centres in each Member State and candidate country. European added value will be provided by a coordination centre, which will ensure that best practice is exchanged. The programme will concentrate on this aspect in particular.

PARTICIPATION

Participation in the programme is open to legal entities established in the Member States. It is also open to legal entities established in the candidate countries in accordance with bilateral agreements in existence or to be concluded with those countries.

Participation may be opened to legal entities established in EFTA States which are contracting parties to the EEA Agreement. It may also be opened, without financial support by the Community under the programme, to legal entities established in third countries and to international organisations, where such participation contributes effectively to the implementation of the programme.

FINANCING

A budget of EUR 45 million has been allocated to the programme for the period 2005-08, of which EUR 20 million is for 2005 and 2006. Nearly half the budget will be for awareness-raising measures.

OPERATION

The Commission is responsible for implementing the programme. The programme operates on the basis of calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Union and on the Information Society portal of the European Commission’s website. The Commission evaluates projects proposed following calls for proposals with a view to Community financing.

LINKAGE WITH OTHER COMMUNITY PROGRAMMES

In implementing the programme, the Commission will ensure that it is generally consistent with and complementary to the other Community policies, programmes and actions, in particular the Community research and technological development programmes and the Daphné II, Modinis and eContentplus programmes.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Decision No 854/2005/EC [adoption: codecision COD 2004/0023]

11.6.2005

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OJ C 017 of 11.6.2005

RELATED ACTS

Communication of 18 February 2009 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Final evaluation of the implementation of the multiannual Community Programme on promoting safer use of the Internet and new online technologies [COM(2009) 64 – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Communication reviews the achievements of the multiannual Safer Internal Plus (2005-2008) programme. The evaluators find that the objectives have been achieved. The programme has managed to adapt to changing needs and to include the new Member States in its scope, particularly within the INHOPE and INSAFE networks. Precious data have been collected, which has made it possible to improve safety on the Internet. Dialogue between stakeholders has been facilitated, mobile operators have been encouraged in their self-regulatory initiatives for the protection of minors.

The evaluation report recommends focusing in future on:

  • the protection and promotion of the rights and privacy of children;
  • active support for the programme from all actors on a national level;
  • co-operation and collaboration with third countries, particularly with regard to eradicating images of the sexual abuse of children;
  • taking into account the national, cultural, linguistic and sociodemographic factors of the new, candidate and accession countries;
  • strengthening the technical knowledge base;
  • a more active communication strategy;
  • knowledge enhancement, particularly on the online behaviour of young people;
  • revisiting the role of the two networks INHOPE and INSAFE with respect to the coordination of work;
  • improving the visibility of hotlines;
  • engaging more actively with industry.

Communication from the Commission of 6 November 2006 on the implementation of the multiannual Community Programme on promoting safer use of the Internet and new online technologies (Safer Internet plus) [COM(2006) 661 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

The report notes the main measures taken under the programme and highlights their positive impact on combating illegal content on the Internet:

  • creation of a European network of national hotlines enabling users to report illegal content on the web: a large number of calls were received by hotlines in 2005, which shows the importance of such a service in the fight against illegal content online;
  • organisation of a Safer Internet Day, which was well attended and received widespread media coverage in the Member States;
  • setting up national awareness centres, which are increasingly organising campaigns aimed at children, parents and teachers.

The Commission will continue its activities by endeavouring to:

  • consolidate and extend the geographical coverage of hotlines and awareness-raising networks;
  • foster close cooperation between all stakeholders in Safer Internet activities;
  • ensure wider distribution of practical information on safer use of the Internet;
  • increase European citizens' awareness of the programme.

For further information, please consult the following websites:

Last updated: 25.05.2009

See also

Additional information available on the European Commission’s Information Societywebsite.

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