EU Commission wants more safety for children on the internet
The EU Commission is planning to extend the "Safer Internet Plus" programme for the safer use of online media for children. The programme will now include Web 2.0 services like social networks and take account of new dangers these pose to children. The programme not only intends to fight illegal content, but will also protect children from harmful online behaviour like bullying or grooming. The programme, which has yet to be adopted by the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers, is scheduled to run from 2009 to 2013, with a budget of €55m.
The updated proposal suggests establishing national complaints centres for reporting illegal content and harmful behaviour on the internet, focussing especially on information about attempts at sexual abuse of children. In addition, voluntary industry initiatives will continue to be supported with a focus on minors. The Commission wants to promote public awareness with special campaigns for children, parents and teachers as well as by supporting advice centres dealing with safe online practices in general. Finally, it will sponsor a "knowledge base" dealing with children's internet use and the risks and effects of new technologies.
The president of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, praised the EU's previous efforts to provide safer internet and online technologies for children when introducing the proposal. These made a concrete difference in citizens' daily lives, he said. Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding added that the efforts in the last few years had made the internet a considerably safer place for children. However, she said "the need for action is increasing in response to new uses of technology". According to the Commissioner, the Commission also included the results of the public consultation about safer internet use for children conducted in spring 2007 in its proposal. (Stefan Krempl)