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Brussels, 7 February 2006

Safer Internet Day 2006: EU stresses commitment to safer use of the Internet

Today, Safer Internet Day will be celebrated by 95 organisations in 36 countries across the world, including 24 EU countries, Russia, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA. Organised under the patronage of Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, Safer Internet Day 2006, features a blogathon or “blog-marathon” during which wide range of organisations and special guests will promote internet safety by making postings and inviting comments from visitors, children, schools and parents. The geographical focus of the 24hr blog will move steadily westwards through the global time zones, and include content in different languages.

In her welcome message to launch the blogathon, Commissioner Reding writes “Just like in the real world, it is important that we respect each other - and the law - when we are online. The blogathon is an opportunity to discuss these issues”.

Although 50% parents in EU25 declare that their child has access to the internet, only 20% have set rules regarding its use. This is the first result of a Eurobarometer survey on Safer Internet run in December 2005 and which will be published at the beginning of March. Top rules mentioned by parents concern “not allowing access to certain websites” (55%), and “controlling time spent on the internet” (53%). Less frequent are parent’s rules for “not allowing children to meet in person someone first contacted on the internet” (35%) and “not allowing downloads of music or films” (19%).

According to Commissioner Reding, “Parents need to teach their children to recognise the risks that can arise when using the Internet, and what to do when a situation makes them feel uncomfortable. This needs to become common sense, and as natural as teaching children basic road safety skills from the day the set foot outside of the home.”

The Safer Internet Day has become an annual event. Other activities this year include “I will teach you” events where pupils teach adults about their activities on the Internet and via GSM.

The Safer Internet Programme

The Commission’s Safer Internet Programme has been running since 1999, and aims to equip parents and teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure internet safety. The current 4-year programme (2005–08) has a budget of € 45 million to combat illegal and harmful internet content. It also covers other media, such as videos, and explicitly addresses the fight against racism, and e-mail "spam".

Current projects and activities include:

  • 21 hotlines for users to report illegal content. In 2005 in Spain, the hotline Protegeles led national police to carry out 37 operations, identifying over 1700 people handling illegal content. These led to arrests in Spain and information being sent to Interpol for further investigation.
  • 23 nodes for raising awareness of safer use of the Internet, with coordination and training from the European Schoolnet, the University of Central Lancashire and the Norwegian Media Authority;
  • a quality labelling scheme for Web sites;
  • pilot projects in self-regulation, aiming to combat spam and to extend content ratings to online games
  • benchmarking of filtering software
  • Safer Internet Forum: a platform of discussion between the industry, child safety organisations and public bodies. In 2005 the Forum concentrated on the emerging safety issues raised by the use of mobile phones by children.

The Safer Internet Day is organised by the European internet safety network INSAFE, which is coordinated by European Schoolnet and co-funded by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Programme.

Further information:

Safer Internet Day, INSAFE network, and INSAFE newsletter:

The European Commission’s safer Internet programme:

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