The European Commission joined forces with 28 technology companies have come together to form a new Coalition to make a better and safer internet for children.
Put together by the Commission, founding Coalition members are: Apple, BSkyB, BT, Dailymotion, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, France Telecom-Orange, Google, Hyves, KPN, Liberty Global, LG Electronics, Mediaset, Microsoft, Netlog, Nintendo, Nokia, Opera Software, Research in Motion, RTL Group, Samsung, Sulake, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Telenor Group, Tuenti, Vivendi, Vodafone. EU says that the priority actions include "making it easier to report harmful content, ensuring privacy settings are age-appropriate, and offering wider options for parental control, reflecting the needs of a generation that is going online at an increasingly young age."
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "This new Coalition should provide both children and parents with transparent and consistent protection tools to make the most of the online world. The founding Coalition members are already leaders in children's safety online. Working together we will be setting the pace for the whole industry and have a great basis for fully empowering children online."
The founding Coalition members have agreed to take action in five areas:
- Simple and robust reporting tools: easy-to-find and recognisable features on all devices to enable effective reporting and responses to content and contacts that seem harmful to kids;
- Age-appropriate privacy settings: settings which take account of the needs of different age groups (such settings determine how widely available a user's information is; for example whether contact details or photos are available only to close contacts rather than to the general public);
- Wider use of content classification: to develop a generally valid approach to age-rating, which could be used across sectors and provide parents with understandable age categories;
- Wider availability and use of parental control: user-friendly tools actively promoted to achieve the widest possible take-up;
- Effective takedown of child abuse material: to improve cooperation with law enforcement and hotlines, to take proactive steps to remove child sexual abuse material from the internet.
There are deadlines and performance indicators for each of the five areas for action outlined above. In addition, coalition members have committed to work together alongside the Commission and engage with interested parties such as child welfare and consumer NGOs. The coalition will review its work in the summer of 2012 and establish by then what subsequent review will be required.