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  • Published 06.11.20

    Children's rights and Internet Governance

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The first phase of the virtual IGF ended on Friday this week. Out of the broad range of pre-events and workshops two sessions highlighted children’s rights and their protection in the digital environment.

    On Tuesday the British 5Rights Foundation organized the Pre-Event #11 Digital Cooperation and Children’s Rights. Speakers were Baroness Beeban Kidron, Prof. Sonia Livingstone, OBE, Dr. Amanda Third, Jutta Croll, Tarique Kenny and Prof. Olga Khazova as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, co-chairs of the Working Group.

    The session centered on the report released by UN’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation “The Age of Digital Interdependence” in June 2019. The report makes 5 sets of recommendations, among those to “Protect human rights and human agency”. The High-level Panel dedicates a reasonable part of its report to the rights and the safety of children in the digital environment, particularly referring to under 18s as making up one-third of all internet users worldwide. Since January 2019, concurrently to the HLPDC, a group of child rights advocates led by the UK-based 5Rights Foundation has been working on General Comment No 25, which outlines the relevance of the UNCRC with regard to children’s rights in the digital environment. A public consultation of the draft General Comment was started by the UN Committee on the Rights of the child in August and is still open till November 15, 2020. Baroness Beeban Kidron gave an overview on the two parallel developments and an introduction to the working process. Then Sonia Livingstone explained more in detail the necessity to address all areas of children’s rights with such a general Comment since the digital environment is deeply entangled with children’s lives. Evidence came from Amanda Third who had led the participation of 709 children from 28 countries around the world in the elaboration of the General Comment and presented some of the findings.

    In the well-attended session the interrelatedness between the General Comment and the HLPDC’s recommendation 3B: “In the face of growing threats to human rights and safety, including those of children, we call on social media enterprises to work with governments, international and local civil society organisations and human rights experts around the world to fully understand and respond to concerns about existing or potential human rights violations”, was discussed. Overall about 50 experts with various backgrounds took part in the debate. Non-discriminatory access to the digital environment is a human right and also a pre-condition to exercise other rights like freedom of expression and access to information. Tarique Kenny, a youth representative from South-Africa stressed the need to ensure fair, inexpensive and reliable access to the Internet. On the African continent the lack of safe spaces for accessing the Internet is a real issue for young people he pointed out.

    Olga Khazova underlined the timeliness of the General Comment when the importance of the digital environment has become more evident than ever during the pandemic. Children’s rights to protection, provision and participation have gained growing relevance in Internet Governance over the now fifteen years the IGF was held, as Jutta Croll explained. Therefore there is an obvious demand to operationalize the recommendations from the HLPDC now with a child’s rights perspective.

    On Wednesday the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety held their session on “Lessons learned from the Pandemic: child rights and safety”. The session addressed the situation the COVID-19 Corona pandemic has put the world’s population in and the consequences in regard of children’s rights. Evidence has shown for some time that exposure to risks to children increases when they spend larger amounts of time online. These could be in the form of undesirable contacts made through online games, exposure to unsuitable content or dubious purchase offers. So the crisis brings to mind the protective rights under UNCRC Art. 17 (protection of minors in the media), Art. 19 (protection against commercial exploitation) and Art. 34 (protection against sexual abuse).

    Statistics of the German helpline “Nummer gegen Kummer” show an increase in children and parents seeking counselling during the crisis. Parents reported being overwhelmed by the situation, not feeling up to properly guide their children when being online and not having answers at hand to deal with inappropriate content and contacts of their children. Children on the other hand felt lonely and neglected at home, not being able to cope with the demands of online lessons from school and being afraid of losing contact with their friends.

    Based on the evidence of an increasing amount of child sexual abuse material (csam) provided in a presentation by Cathal Delaney from Europol speakers in the session pointed out the need for better protection of children. Participants to the session referred to an interim regulation currently before the European parliament to maintain the legal status quo for platform providers using tools like photoDNA to detect csam. Not accepting the interim regulation would put children even more at risk once the European Electronic Communication Code enters into force on Dec. 20, 2020. Speakers also highlighted that fighting child sexual abuse material on the Internet is neither related to censorship nor to mass surveillance.

    The session concluded with a reference to the General Comment on children’s rights in regard of the digital environment and stressed the necessity to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights in the digital environment especially in the light of the ongoing pandemic and its consequences for children’s lives.

    On Monday Nov. 9, 2020 the Internet Governance Forum starts its second phase with more sessions related to children’s rights and safety on the agenda:





  • Published 22.10.20

    The virtual Internet Governance Forum 2020 is starting soon

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    On Monday, November 2, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2020 will begin, this year in digital format as a virtual IGF, hosted by the United Nations. This year’s motto is "Internet for human resilience and solidarity". Here, economic, civil society, and technical representatives meet with high-ranking government representatives from all around the world and address the four thematic tracks: data, environment, inclusion, and trust.

    During the first week a series of sessions and workshops of the IGF’s Dynamic Coalitions and the national and regional IGF initiatives will take place. In addition, open forums and events of transnational organizations will be held. In the second week, the program, which is divided into four thematic areas by the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, will begin. Until November 17, the program will include workshops, sessions, and roundtable discussions that will focus on the challenges of digital transformation for society.

    Children’s rights and child protection have gained high awareness in the Internet Governance eco-system over the years since the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety started its work in Rio in 2007.

    We have produced a schedule of the sessions addressing aspects of children and youth growing up in a digital environment to make it more convenient for you to take part online. During the IGF week we will report from the event with a special focus on these sessions.

    For the participation in the IGF a registration is necessary. Please be kindly advised here to register before October 26.

    IGF-Sessions on “Growing Up in a Digital Environment”

    3.11.2020 (Pre-Events)

    4.11.2020 (Pre-Events)

    6.11.2020 (Pre-Event)





  • Published 16.10.20

    New law on the protection of minors adopted by the German Cabinet

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Last reformed in 2002, the current German Youth Protection Act is no longer adequate to ensure that children and young people grow up well and safely with media.
    Whereas the protection of minors used to focus on regulating the confrontation with harmful content, a modern protection of minors in the media must now meet completely different challenges.

    The Internet is firmly embedded in the everyday life of young people, enabling them to have a variety of social contacts and access to information, educational and leisure opportunities. However, this is also accompanied by dangers and risks which make effective protection concepts and measures necessary.

    The Federal Government is breaking new ground with the draft of a modern law for the protection of minors presented by Federal Minister for Family Affairs Giffey.
    For the first time, the personal integrity of young people is anchored as a protection goal. The new law is based on a child rights approach which focuses on the best interest of the child in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and takes equal account of the protection, empowerment and participation of children. Three elements are envisaged for achieving contemporary protection of young people:

    • Protection of children and young people from interaction risks such as bullying, sexual advances or cost traps;
    • Orientation for parents, professionals and young people through uniform age labels;
    • Enforcement of the regulations, also vis-à-vis foreign providers who make particularly high use of children and young people.

    After the successful completion of the EU notification procedure, the draft law has now been adopted by Cabinet. In the next step, it will be submitted to the Bundesrat (upper house of parliament), then it goes into parliamentary deliberation and, if successful, can enter into force in the first half of 2021.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown the importance of using the Internet and online services when schools and kindergardens are closed and personal contacts are limited. In order for children to be able to exercise their right to access to the media, their right to education, their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, cultural participation and play also in and with digital media, we need an effective and up-to-date protection of minors in the media as provided for in the draft law.

  • Published 16.09.20

    ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP)

    During the Corona Crisis more children than ever have been going online and with that there has been an increase in the amount of online criminal offences directed at children, stated Dr. Najat Maalla M'jid on the official Facebook page of the United Nations Office on Violence Against Children. To work against that problem, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched its 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), a set of recommendations for stakeholders on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people. It consists of four parts, each directed to the four different key audiences: children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers. Almost all Guidelines are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and Russian.

    The guidelines for children have been published in three different forms: a story book for children under nine, a workbook for children aged 9 to 11, and a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18 (only available in English). These aim to show children how to manage risks online and empower them to safely be able to use the opportunities that the internet offers.

    The guidelines for parents and educators serve as a tool to protect and support children and young people using the internet and to make the families aware of the potential risks that their children face. The importance of having an open communication with your children and students and giving them the feeling that they can confide in you is strongly emphasized.

    The guidelines for industry aim to support the industry in developing safer child online protection policies. They recommend integrating child rights considerations into all policies, developing standard processes to handle child sexual abuse material, creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment, educating children, carers and educators about children's safety, and portraying digital technologies as a way to increase civic engagement.

    The guidelines for policymakers provide a base on which to develop inclusive strategies e.g. through open consultations and direct communication with children. This would lead to better targeted and more efficient measures. The guidelines recommend policies should build on internationals standards, like the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    These guidelines are a “very timely tool to safeguard the well-being, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift," ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in the press release of the 2020 Guidelines on COP and they should be taken into account when making any decisions that can concern a child’s wellbeing.

    All the guidelines can be downloaded here.

  • Published 09.09.20

    „ Respect my rights! Healthy living!" KiKA’s thematic focus from September 7 to 25, 2020

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The right to health is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 24). Here, health is defined as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity", which aligns with the WHOs views. Article 12 of the UN-CRC grants children the right to be heard in all matters concerning them. In agreement with this KiKA conducted a survey to find out more about the well-being of children during the Corona crisis. The children‘s channel commissioned a survey of 843 schoolchildren aged 6 to 13 on the topics of nutrition, exercise, and sustainability. The majority of the children showed a surprisingly high awareness of these health issues

    For 39% of those surveyed, eating less sweets has a positive effect. "Sweets should be offered in moderation because sugar is generally very addictive" explained a 9-year-old female respondent. However, drinks should also be taken into account, according to the children. Almost two thirds of them prefer water (60 %), followed by sparkling juices (22 %), and finally softdrinks in third place(7,7 %).

    In order to find out what health means for children, they were asked how to prevent childhood obesity. The majority of children see healthier food (83%), and exercise and sports (61%) as preventive measures. In contrast to the Motoric Module Study 2019 (MoMo) , which showed that about 80% of 6 to 17-year-olds in Germany aren‘t active enough (less than 60min of "moderate to strenuous activity" daily), in the KiKA study 89% of the six to 13-year-olds stated that they had moved for about an hour or more the previous day. They particularly like to be active outdoors or meet friends (65%), cycling or walking is also very popular (63%), and almost a third (30%) visit a sports club regularly.

    "I don't want to put pressure on myself to perform, I prefer to play around foolishly", said a 7-year-old girl when asked about exercise.

    Mental health is also an important issue, especially during the corona crisis. Most schools, playgrounds, and sports clubs were closed for a long time and children could not play around with friends as they would have liked to. Many children missed their friends (77%), visits to playgrounds (58%), everyday hobbies (45%), and above all their grandparents (54%). Therefore, the children were also asked how they felt during the pandemic. About half of the children (50.9 %) said they were "very well" or "rather well". Just under a third (29%) were undecided and the remaining children (20%) were "not feeling so well" or even "not well at all". Especially children aged eight to nine and girls felt uncomfortable during this time. Some children enjoyed having less school, spending more time with the family and seeing their parents more often. Only 13% of those surveyed said there was nothing good about Corona.

    "A school subject dealing with health education would be important," said a 13-year-old male interviewee. This statement is directly related to Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that all children be "provided with basic knowledge concerning the child's health and nutrition" and that they "have access to appropriate training".

    Particularly in light of the corona pandemic, the issue of health is becoming increasingly important also for children. During the KiKA thematic focus, many aspects of the topic of health will be presented through documentaries, magazines, or films. These can be found on the TV channel or as on-demand offers on kika.de, kikaninchen.de, in the KiKANiNCHEN app, and in the KiKA player. During the ongoing corona phase, the KiKA consulting service "KUMMERKASTEN" offers mental support. On kika.de/kummerkasten the corona hygiene rules are shown in an entertaining way and during the period of the thematic focus, study results are taken up and perseverance is encouraged.

  • Published 13.08.20

    Invitation to comment on a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment

    We are happy to announce that the Unites Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child is currently drafting a general comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.

    As of Aug. 12 the Committee now invites all interested stakeholders to comment on its draft general comment. The deadline for submissions is 15 November 2020. No submissions received after this deadline will be considered or posted on the webpage of the Committee.

    After due consideration of inputs provided, the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the general comment. All comments:

    • Should be submitted in one of the official languages of the Committee: English, French or Spanish;
    • Should be in one concise and focused document indicating precisely the paragraphs to which comments are being made and must not exceed 3,000 words;
    • Should be submitted electronically in WORD format to the following email address: crc@ohchr.org;
    • Will not be accepted if they do not follow the above requirements;
    • Will not be translated;
    • Shall be posted on the CRC webpage devoted to this draft general comment.

    The current version of the draft general comment can be found here.

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