JThe EU will have a new Safer Internet Programme as of 1 January 2009.
Following the overwhelmingly positive vote on 23 October in which the European Parliament expressed its support for the new Safer Internet Programme, the Council of Ministers has adopted the new Programme. The €55 million programme will
cover the period 2009-2013.
A new Eurobarometer survey shows that 60% of European parents are worried that their child might become a victim of online grooming and 54% that their children could be bullied online.
The proposed new programme will co-fund projects to:
Increase public awareness: empower young people, their parents and teachers to make responsible choices online by advising them on relevant precautions to take.
Provide the public with a network of contact points that could be reached either via a website or a phone number, for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyber bullying.
Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and involve children in creating a safer online environment.
Establish a knowledge base on new trends in the use of online technologies and their consequences for children's lives by bringing together at European level technical, psychological and sociological expertise.
The € 55 million budget for the new Safer Internet Programme will be distributed as follows: 48% should serve to raise public awareness, 34% to fight against illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online, 10% to promote a safer online
environment and 8% to establish a knowledge base.
The European Commission has marked the sixth Safer Internet Day by unveiling details of an agreement on net safety that many web firms have signed up to.
Under the terms of the agreement the sites, which includes Bebo, Facebook, YouTube, Habbo Hotel and Yahoo! Europe, will take steps to proactively protect younger users.
These include prominent display of a Report Abuse button, switching online profiles of those under 18 to private by default, making profiles of those under 18 not searchable and discouraging registrations from those too young to use a
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for information society and media, said the agreement was an important step forward towards making our children's clicks on social networking sites safer in Europe.
In a statement she said the potential for social networking sites to flourish should only happen when children have the trust and tools to stay safe while they use such web destinations. She added: I will closely monitor the implementation of
today's agreement and the Commission will come back to this matter in a year's time.
The Council of Europe have added to the clamour of organisation making similar suggestions about keeping children safe on the internet. Perhaps better than most with a little more emphasis on identifying safe areas rather than banning adult
Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour and to promote their active participation in the new information and
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 8 July 2009 at the 1063rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
Protecting freedom of expression and human dignity in the information and communications environment by ensuring a coherent level of protection for minors against harmful content and developing children's media literacy
skills is a priority for the Council of Europe.
The risk of harm may arise from content and behaviour, such as online pornography, the degrading and stereotyped portrayal of women, the portrayal and glorification of violence and self-harm, demeaning, discriminatory or
racist expressions or apologia for such conduct, solicitation (grooming), the recruitment of child victims of trafficking in human beings, bullying, stalking and other forms of harassment, which are capable of adversely affecting the physical,
emotional and psychological well-being of children.
Attention should be drawn to the normative texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers designed to assist member states in dealing with these risks and, as a corollary, in securing everyone's human rights and fundamental
There is a need to provide children with the knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes, human rights values and behaviour necessary to participate actively in social and public life, and to act responsibly while
respecting the rights of others.
There is also the need to encourage trust and promote confidence on the Internet, in particular by neutral labelling of content to enable both children and adults to make their own value judgments regarding Internet
The Committee of Ministers recommends that member states, in co-operation with private sector actors and civil society, develop and promote coherent strategies to protect children against content and behaviour carrying a
risk of harm while advocating their active participation in and best possible use of the new information and communications environment, in particular by:
encouraging the development and use of safe spaces (walled gardens), as well as other tools facilitating access to websites and Internet content appropriate for children
promoting the further development and voluntary use of labels and trustmarks allowing parents and children to easily distinguish non-harmful content from content carrying a risk of harm
promoting the development of skills among children, parents and educators to understand better and deal with content and behaviour that carries a risk of harm
bringing this recommendation and its appended guidelines to the attention of all relevant private and public sector stakeholders.