Children’s groups speak out

The EU held a consultation on the upcoming Digital Services Act. It closed yesterday. Here is a link to the document I submitted with the support of one or more children’s groups from 15 Member States. What with the holiday period, Covid and the relatively short turnaround time, that’s not a bad showing. The processes that will now follow will likely carry on for some time and in the months (years?) ahead I hope we can build on that level of  engagement. It is vital that we do.

The year 2000 is ancient history

The decision-makers in Brussels-Strasbourg must understand that,  as compared with 2000 when they adopted the first set of ground rules for the internet, in the form of the e-Commerce Directive, the internet has changed almost beyond recognition.  Now one in five of all internet users in the EU is a child.

Children and families are therefore a major and persistent presence. They can no longer be treated as an irritating, trivial concern in a larger and more important or nobler struggle against, well, against all manner of societal and political evils. Children need to move from afterthought to always-thought in cyber policy making.

The five key recommendations

If you look at the document you will see it directs policy-makers attention to five major suggestions

  1. Establish a duty of care
  2. Create a meaningful, independent transparency regime
  3. Revisit the GDPR through the lens of children
  4. Closely scrutinise the operation of the AVMSD
  5. Improve the co-ordination and management of policy-making processes affecting kids

There is a separate paper, which was not submitted as part of the formal response. It acknowledges that the EU has been a major world leader in online child protection but it also details where it has not always got it right. I call it the “Consequences” document.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International and is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John is now or has formerly been an Adviser to the Council of Europe, the UN (ITU), the EU and UNICEF. John has advised many of the world's largest technology companies on online child safety. John's skill as a writer has also been widely recognised.
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