Statement on the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in TelemediaTorsten Krause, SDC
On 8 November, the Broadcasting Commission of the federal states published its draft for a reform of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia and opened it up for discussion. The Digital Opportunities Foundation has analysed and evaluated the draft from a children's rights perspective. As a result, it takes an ambivalent view of the proposals. The Digital Opportunities Foundation welcomes and supports a number of the amendments. The majority of these are related to creating convergence with the regulations of the German Federal Youth Protection Act and the Digital Services Act of the European Union. However, we consider the planned approach of a technical mechanism for the protection of minors at operating system level to be inadequate in several respects. Our reservations are not generally directed against technical measures to support the protection of young people in the digital environment, which the Foundation generally considers to be a suitable element in a holistic protection concept. However, the proposed one-button approach based on an age setting appears to us to be too simplistic to do proper justice to the complex media realities and user behaviour of young people.
You can read the full statement of the Digital Opportunities Foundation here. The ressource is available in German only.
Safer Internet Forum 2023: Empowering Youth with skills for the digital decadeJutta Croll, SDC, SDC
On Thursday Nov. 23rd the EC held the Safer Internet Forum 2023 in Brussels with about 150 people taking part onsite, and nearly the same number of attendants populating the digital space. The program circled around challenges arising from digital services and new technologies and strategies for enabling young people and children to cope.
When keynote speaker Amanda Third from Western Sidney University, Young and Resilient Research Centre referred to the English pediatrician David Winnicott and his theory of the “holding space” young and adult participants were curious to learn how the concept could be adapted to the digital environment. Although the idea is nearly 50 years old it holds true for the role parents can play nowadays providing fur such a space where children can trust their parents will give them age-appropriate liberties but also care for their safety. The role of peers in empowerment was demonstrated by youth ambassadors from countries across Europe in sketches dealing with stress online, like cyberbullying and scams.
Deep dive sessions provided room for discussing the opportunities and risks of immersive environments like the Metaverse, the role of industry in fostering skills of children, parents and educators and pre-conditions for young people’s well-being in the digital environment. Intergenerational conversation, media literacy training not only for youth but also for teachers and parents, and creative concepts to address vulnerable children were considered to built a cohesive strategy to address present and future challenges online. On the regulatory level the Digital Services Act (DSA) was welcomed as a break through and major step forward to make the Internet a better place for kids, it’s roll-out and implementation by industry according to the participants shall be a key take-away for the months to come. Eventually young participants expressly emphasized their appreciation for the youth respecting approach of the Forum, providing them with opportunities to bring forward their experiences, raise their voices and make themselves heard.
COSPRA2023: Protecting children togetherTorsten Krause, SDC, SDC
This year's COSPRA Summit of the Ndukwe Kalu Foundation took place on 23 November in Abuja, Nigeria. The abbreviation COSPRA stands for Child Online Safety, Protection and Reporting of Abuse, making it clear that the safety and protection of children online and the reporting of abuse and violence were at the centre of the conference. As part of the plenary session "Multi Stakeholder Responsibilities in Online Safety", we reported on the experiences of the kinderrechte.digital project and, with reference to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment No. 25 on the rights of the child in the digital environment, pointed out that, despite the need to protect young people online, it must not be forgotten that they also have the right to participate. This means that the aim cannot be to exclude children from content and services that could potentially be harmful to them, but rather to ensure in a community of responsibility that children and young people can navigate the internet and digital environments safely.
This shared responsibility includes parents and civil society as well as the state and the providers themselves. They can all play their part in ensuring that young people can have positive experiences online and are protected from risks. In addition to adequate information and education about potential risks and how these can be countered, it is also important to develop a basic understanding of the digital space in order to be able to utilise it in a media literate manner. However, service providers can also make a significant contribution to ensuring that children are safe online through the design of their services, e.g. by using them anonymously or preventing them from being contacted by strangers. If an unpleasant situation or illegal offence does occur, help and reporting mechanisms must be available to advise children and young people on the one hand and to initiate prosecution processes if necessary on the other.
Consultation on the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in TelemediaTorsten Krause, SDC, SDC
In spring 2022, the federal states initiated a reform of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia and submitted their proposal for a new version for discussion. This included adjustments with regard to the federal Youth Protection Act, which was amended in 2021, as well as proposals for a technical protection solution on youth in the media. Further information on this can be found in our article "Entwurf zur Fortentwicklung des Jugendmedienschutzes in Deutschland" from 28 April 2022. The Digital Opportunities Foundation's statement at the time is available here (both sources only available in german).
In light of the feedback received on last year's draft, the Broadcasting Commission of the federal states published a revised version of the proposed reform of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia on 8 November 2023. In addition to the aforementioned concerns, the federal states also took the opportunity to consider the Digital Services Act, which has since been adopted, and to establish the necessary references. Once again, there is now the opportunity to submit comments on the proposals as well as suggestions and advice. Comments on the current reform proposal can be submitted here until 7 December 2023. We will publish the current position of the Digital Opportunities Foundation on this page (sources only available in german).
Don't push away your responsibilityTorsten Krause, SDC
After the "Don't push your thoughts away" campaign launched in November 2022 reached 21 million people online and 18 million via TV, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues (UBSKM) presented its sequel in a Berlin cinema on 13 November. Under the title "Don't push away your responsibility", the focus is now on encouraging everyone to look and listen in order to be able to act in the event of sexual abuse against a child. At the event, Kerstin Claus (UBSKM) emphasised that not all affected children remain silent. They do send out signals, but unfortunately these are often not recognised or understood by adults. The campaign therefore aims to sensitise people to be attentive, to ask questions when in doubt and to take responsibility.
In addition to posters, adverts and events, the current campaign offers a wealth of information and guidance on how adults can react if they have the impression that a child is suffering sexual abuse. Well advised, they can then take action, protect children and thus fulfil their responsibility. Materials on sexual abuse of children and how to take action against it are also available in English, French, Polish, Turkish and Ukrainian.