Signature E-safety charter
The e-safety charter, a self-regulating document for the online protection of children and young people, is being signed today at the initiative of Child Focus and the six leading content and access providers (Belgacom, KPN Group Belgium/BASE, Microsoft, Mobistar, Netlog and Telenet).
Internet and other information and communication technologies are extremely popular and important in the lives of children and young people. They are interested in everything the Internet has to offer: chat, gaming, music, information, social network sites, etc… 93% of Belgian children and young people between 9 and 16 years old, regularly go online and also spend a lot of time on the Internet: an average of 1 hour on weekdays, which doubles during the weekend or holidays. Children are starting out on the Internet at an increasingly young age: in Belgium, children start using the Internet regularly at the age of 9. 83% of 13-14 year-olds have a profile on a social networking site.
This evolution is reinforced by the growing offer of mobile devices which allow you to go online. More and more children and young people can be connected whenever they like, wherever they go. It is important that children are introduced to the Internet and innovative services at a young age, but this user group is also extra vulnerable and must therefore be protected through a specific approach.
As the Belgian Safer Internet Centre, Child Focus makes every effort to make the online world safer for children and young people. E-safety, however, is not just the responsibility of one partner or organization. Everyone has a role to play: teachers, governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society, the online sector and everyone who offers access or platforms to children and young people. Cooperation is therefore crucial, something which is also endorsed by the online sector. Many stakeholders approached Child Focus individually to work together on targeted e-safety initiatives. Child Focus therefore decided to bring all the industry partners together. By stimulating and facilitating cooperation with and between these partners, Child Focus aims to achieve a higher level of e-safety, so that each child has access to a safer internet or mobile environment. From the discussions between Child Focus and the six leading players from the Internet sector, the following six principles emerged, which each partner endorses and will commit to:
1.Content as well as access providers and whoever offers an online service to minors, have to commit to the online protection of children.
Inform children about the possible risks of communication via technology and their role in helping to prevent these risks.
Stimulate the communication between parents and their children.
Inform parents, teachers and other educators about potential risks and available tools to help them protect their children.
3.Work towards a safe online environment for children:
Protect them from harmful or potentially illegal conduct and harmful contact by providing good, easy-to-understand information and ‘rules’, as well as clear information on what might happen when one violates these rules.
Protect them from harmful content by giving users the possibility to block unwanted or age-inappropriate content.
4.Empower users through tools and technology
Offer privacy-settings that are easy-to-use and easy-to-understand.
Aim at an optimization of default-settings to protect children.
Offer tools that give users an optimal control over their own personal data and to whom these are accessible.
Empower and stimulate users to use these technical aids.
The e-safety aspects discussed in this charter are never to become commercial products. These aspects may, however, be communicated in the context of the realization of the previous principles, for instance to raise awareness.
The commercial approach towards children should be different and should not misuse their developmental naivety and credulousness.
6.Collaboration is crucial:
With Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) in cases of illegal or illicit content or conduct
With proper bodies
- In dealing with other illicit, age-inappropriate or harmful content, contact or conduct
- In raising awareness of the online risks and how to prevent them
All the partners commit to support this e-safety charter and will do their utmost to uphold the six principles set out in this document. This charter is just the beginning. It marks the start of common action. Guided by Child Focus, the partners that drew up this charter will choose three concrete action points every year, on which they will focus their efforts.
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