EU and Japan to Make the Internet Safer for Children

Europe and Japan will work together on a strategy to make the Internet safer for children and teenagers.

The new strategy was announced by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Wednesday. On Thursday, she met with Tatsuo Kawabata, Japanese minister for Internal affairs and Communications to discuss how the European Union and Japan could collaborate on such plans.

Although the strategy is for industry self regulation, the digital agenda spokesman said in an email that the European Commission would intervene if self regulation does not deliver. However "a regulation-only approach would fail," he said.

Apple, BSkyB, Dailymotion, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netlog, Nintendo, Nokia, Research In Motion, Samsung and Vodafone have all signed up to the initiative, which aims to improve content for children and create a safer online environment.

According to the Commission, 75 percent of European children, a third of them on mobile phones, use the Internet.

Currently, different national approaches across the E.U.'s 27 member states mean that children have different levels of empowerment and protection online. With an estimated four in 10 children having encountered risks such as cyberbullying, pro-anorexia or self-harm content, giving parents and children the tools to ensure their protection is a key part of the Commission's digital agenda.

The strategy also includes mechanisms to report harmful content and conduct online, transparent default age-appropriate privacy settings and the use of innovative technical solutions by police investigating child sexual abuse material online.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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