THE European Commission has presented a report this week on how Member States are implementing EU Recommendations ensuring children can enjoy the digital world confidently and safely.
Member States and industry are increasingly making efforts to implement EU Recommendations dating from 1998 and 2006 on the protection of minors using audiovisual and online services. But the measures taken have been insufficient overall. In concrete terms, the report shows that EU countries are not responding adequately, or have varying approaches to tackling and reporting illegal or harmful content, ensuring children access age-appropriate content, making social networks safer for children and protecting children from harmful video games.
For example, there are many differences between Member States in the way hotlines check the illegality of, or the harm involved in, the content reported to them, track its source and notify it to the competent authorities. Similarly, EU countries use different age rating systems and technical means to keep website and games age-appropriate. The report shows that there is considerable scope for enhancing children’s protection in these sectors. The Commission will address these issues later this year in a comprehensive initiative to empower and protect children who use new technologies.
Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said, “Children are going online more, and younger, and are exploring an exciting digital world of opportunity. But we urgently need to step up a gear on what we do, and how we work together to empower and protect children in this ever changing digital world. We need to give parents and teachers the confidence to take on their responsibilities. The strategy I will present later this year will tackle these problems head on”.
The report suggests several actions including making hotlines better known and improving the supporting infrastructures to make the removal of illegal content more efficient; improving awareness of the risks and ways to mitigate them; wider use of age-rating systems (like PEGI) for online games; developing codes of codes of conduct and other ways of making retailers more aware of age-ratings, to prevent “under-age” sales of games. For further information, see the report “Protecting Children in the Digital World”.