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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 5 February 2013

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.

In 2013, the Commission will undertake further work to support the coalition and its individual members by

  • Setting up a Corporate Responsibility platform to monitor the results of the coalition and merge it with other self-regulatory streams.

  • Supporting the development of browser buttons for reports and links to helplines. Funding the hosting of a database of privacy settings for children run by Safer Internet Centres (via the existing Safer Internet Programme, and in proposed Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) digital services).

  • Support industry research and innovation on interoperability of content classification schemes (from Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and & Horizon 2020)

  • Promote the development of age recognition services, building on the technical possibilities of EU-wide recognisable electronic identity cards as enabled by the draft legislation on eID.

  • Investing in research into tools and technologies to detect child abuse content (in Horizon 2020).

Keeping children safe online is a key commitment of the Digital Agenda for Europe and is an important part of the Commission's wider efforts to ensure trust and security online. In the coming days, the Commission will present an EU Cyber Security Strategy and a legislative proposal on Network and Information Security to ensure a secure and trustworthy digital environment while promoting and protecting fundamental rights and EU core values.

Background

On 2 May 2012 the Commission adopted the Communication for a "Strategy for a Better Internet for Children" highlighting actions around four main goals.

38% of 9 to 12 year olds who are online say they have a social networking profile, in spite of age restrictions. More than 30% of children who go online do so from a mobile device and 26% via game consoles. 4 in 10 children report having encountered risks online such as cyber-bullying, being exposed to user-generated content promoting anorexia or self-harm or misuse of their personal data.

Members of the Coalition

Apple

LG Electronics

Stardoll

BSkyB

Mediaset

Sulake

BT

Microsoft

Telefónica

Dailymotion

Netlog*

TeliaSonera

Deutsche Telekom

Nintendo

Telecom Italia

Facebook

Nokia

Telenor Group

France Telecom-Orange

Opera Software

Tuenti

Google

Research in Motion

Vivendi

Hyves

RTL Group

Vodafone

KPN

Samsung

Liberty Global*

Skyrock

* has not yet reported its concrete progress

Useful links

Safer Internet

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/news-redirect/9565Links to company statements and other key documents

Digital Agenda website

Neelie Kroes' website

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter

http://www.saferinternetday.org

Twitter hashtags: #SID2013 and #betterinternet4kids

Contacts :

Linda Cain (+32 2 299 90 19)

Ryan Heath (+32 2 296 17 16)


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