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  • Published 20.09.21

    World Children's Day 2021: Reason to celebrate children's rights in the digital world!

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Today is World Children's Day. This is a good occasion to let children from all over the world have their say. In our video you can hear and see what children and young people think about their rights in the digital world.

    Last year, more than 700 children worldwide took part in workshops and exchanged views on the importance of the internet for their lives, where they would like to see protection but also more freedom and who can support them in this. They made very concrete suggestions on how the digital world can be made child-friendly and what needs to change.

    The report Our rights in the digital world reflects the children's opinions.

    The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has incorporated the results of the workshops into the 25th General Comment on children's rights in relation to the digital environment. This is currently being translated into German. We have already translated a child-friendly version of the General Comment, which was created together with children from the UK, together with children from Germany. The poster In our own words summarises the most important demands for a good and child-friendly growing up with digital media.

    Since the adoption of the General Comment, governments in all parts of the world must ensure that children's rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment. The General Comment is therefore something of a to-do list for government representatives, but also for other stakeholders involved in shaping the digital environment and for those who bear responsibility for children growing up well.

    Today, on World Children's Day, we want to point this out and we want to celebrate that children's rights apply everywhere in the world - also in the digital space.

  • Published 21.06.21

    The European Digital Services Act must deliver for children

    5Rights Foundation, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Children and young people have long-established rights and protections offline and a life mediated by tech must be held to the same standards. Our digital world is a purpose-built environment, shaped through conscious choices. We must choose to build a digital world that supports and empowers young people and upholds their rights. The Digital Services Act represents a singular opportunity to ensure that children’s rights are respected, embedded and upheld online.

    Technology (or its absence) is now a defining feature of childhood. Yet children - who make up one in five users of digital services in the EU - live in a digital world designed by adults, for adults, and driven by commercial interests.

    The problems children face from the digital world are systemic. They are not restricted to technical bugs or bad actors but are also present in the features and architecture of the products and services on which children rely for access to education, health, entertainment, civic engagement and to manage their relationships with family and friends. Children are routinely presented with information, behaviours and pressures that they do not have the developmental capacity to negotiate. They are introduced to unknown adults, nudged to make in-game purchases, targeted by dangerous or harmful content, bombarded with targeted advertising and misinformation, and subjected to invasive, extractive data gathering.

    We need a better deal for children online, and in order to achieve this, children need to be recognised in the digital environment. The protections, privileges and rights which empower and support young people offline need to be upheld online.

    5Rights Foundation, supported by the broader children’s rights, human rights, digital rights and consumer protection communities, calls upon the European Parliament and Council of Ministers to include a children’s clause in the Digital Services Act requiring all providers of services likely to be accessed by or impact on children to uphold their rights, undertake child impact assessments and mitigate systemic risks to children’s rights, based on statutory standards.

    The DSA must guarantee a level of protection below which companies shall not fall, without precluding the provision of additional protections for children at national level, notably in view of technological innovations. The DSA's "one-stop-shop" enforcement mechanism should not inhibit the smooth and timely enforcement of children's rights throughout the territory of the Union.

    Now is the time to build the digital world that young people deserve.

  • Published 02.05.21

    More protection, provision, and participation for children on the Internet

    Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The new Youth Protection Act came into effect in Germany on May 1, 2021.

    Providers of Internet platforms used by children and young people, must take precautionary measures to ensure better protection against interaction risks. This refers to risks potentially arising from the use of services and contact with other users. A specific precautionary measure would be safe default settings when a new user profile is created. Demanding this the new German legislation is based on the principle of "evolving capacities" in accordance with Article 5 of the UNCRC, i.e. the capacities that develop as children grow older. This allows younger children to start their online experiences in a safe environment. When they are more experienced in using the Internet and specific platforms, settings can gradually be loosened and more freedom can be granted.

    However, this presupposes that parents and other adult caregivers also have the necessary media literacy and educational skills to accompany children as they navigate their way through the digital world. Age labels and descriptors for digital media content and services as prescribed under the new Youth Protection Act are intended to provide support in this regard.

    In two years, the future Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media (formerly BPjM) will evaluate the effectiveness of these legal regulations, with the help and participation of an advisory board that also includes young people. Acceptance for youth media protection measures is likely to increase significantly, especially among adolescents, if they themselves can participate in the development and evaluation. The new Youth Protection Act is a major step forward by strengthening the rights of children in accordance to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the basis of the 25th General Comment to the UNCRC and therefore also deserves international attention.

  • Published 30.04.21

    IGF 2021 Call for Session Proposals

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The United Nations Multistakeholder Advisory Group calls for active participation in the Internet Governance Forum 2021 (IGF) program development. The IGF is an annual global multistakeholder forum for dialogue on internet governance issues. Stakeholders can submit a variety of types of sessions including workshops, open forums, lightning talks, networking sessions, and more until 26 May at 23:59 UTC. This year the IGF will take place in Katowice, Poland from the 6th to 10th of December and will be organized as a hybrid event. This means that participants can join on-site or online, which has to be considered when proposing sessions because all participants should be able to engage actively and have the same experience. This year the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) has opted for using an issue-driven approach to design the IGF 2021 programme. The goal is to work with fewer issues treated in greater depth, instead of having broad themes, like in past years. The two main focus areas this year will be (1) economic and social inclusion and human rights and (2) universal access and meaningful connectivity. There are also four cross-cutting issues including emerging regulations, environmental sustainability and climate change, inclusive Internet governance ecosystems and digital cooperation, and trust, security, and stability.

    Issues relating to children’s rights are of great importance for both main focus areas. The recently published General Comment No. 25 (2021) on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment underlines the necessity to address the issue appropriately on all levels of policy making. Also children have expressed the importance of universal and meaningful access to the internet for children across the globe and the necessity to feel included and safe in the accompanying Report “Our Rights in a Digital World”. Human rights, children’s rights and child and youth protection are all important aspects of internet governance and need to be considered in all decisions made in regard of the internet.

    We strongly encourage the child rights community to participate in the programming and to submit a broad range of proposals as it was the case last year. To achieve acceptance of proposals it is particularly important to ensure the diversity in regard of regional origin, societal group, gender and age. Please contact us at jcroll@digitale-chancen.de if you would like to submit a workshop proposal and you need support in addressing international partner organizations or in selecting speakers. We will also be happy to help you fill in the necessary information in the submission form.

    More information can be found here.

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