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  • Published 22.03.24

    EuroDIG: Balancing innovation and regulation

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    The next European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) will take place in Vilnius (Lithuania) from 17 to 19 June. Under the motto "Balancing innovation and regulation", representatives from politics, the private sector, civil society and academia will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and network. Registration is required to take part in the conference. Participants can specify whether they wish to take part on site or online. In particular, participants planning to be in Vilnius should register by 14 June. Registration is possible here. The conference will be realised completely hybrid.

    The current planning status for the EuroDIG can be viewed in this wiki. There you can see which topics will be discussed, when and where. In each programme item, you will also find opportunities to get involved in the further preparation and organisation. As the conference is being developed in a participatory process, everyone is welcome to take advantage of this opportunity and get involved.

  • Published 21.03.24

    We celebrate the new office for the enforcement of children's rights!

    Torsten Krause

    The German Bundestag today passed the federal government's draft law on the national implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and thus, among other things, made decisions regarding the corresponding national responsibilities. Accordingly, the Federal Network Agency will be responsible for the supervision of providers and the enforcement of the DSA in Germany and will work together with the other competent authorities in the member states and the European Union. In addition, the Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media (BzKJ) in Bonn and the bodies designated by the federal states to enforce media regulations will be responsible for the implementation of children's rights in the digital environment.

    The Office for the Enforcement of Children's Rights in Digital Services (KidD) will be set up at the Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media for this purpose. The KidD-Office will be able to act independently of instructions with appropriate staff and material resources that can be managed autonomously and include a research budget.

    From the perspective of the Digital Opportunities Foundation, the establishment of an independent office for the enforcement of children's rights in digital services at the Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media is expressly to be welcomed. By establishing this office, the legislator is appropriately emphasising the special significance of the life phase of young people and their sensitivity in a ubiquitous digital everyday life and recognising the specific needs and interests of children and young people in the digital environment, as comprehensively described by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in its General Comment No. 25.

  • Published 15.03.24

    Between children's programmes & social media: Pre-teens and the challenges for youth media protection and media literacy

    Jutta Croll & Torsten Krause, SDC

    Initiating discourse and debate is the declared aim of the "medien impuls" series of events organised by the Freiwillige Selbstkontrollen Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM) and Fernsehen (FSF).

    This was successfully achieved on Tuesday at the Bertelsmann Representative Office in Berlin, when the participants discussed who the so-called pre-teens are and what interests and needs they have when using media. Based on the results of the KIM and JIM studies, Stephan Glöckler, Head of Citizens' Television/Media Research at the Rhineland-Palatinate Media Authority, presented where young people between the ages of nine and 13 spend their time and what is really important to them when they are online. Afterwards, Jutta Croll, Chairwoman of the Stiftung Digitale Chancen (Digital Opportunities Foundation), and Anke Meinders, Managing Director of fragFINN, discussed with Stephan Glöckler what services are available for children between primary school and adolescent age. The focus was on the question of how to define "child-appropriate" for this age group. With reference to General Comment No.25 on the rights of children in the digital environment, Jutta Croll explained what the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child understands by this and what obligations this entails for state actors and companies. From an analysis of more than one hundred services, which is currently being carried out by the Stiftung Digitale Chancen as part of a research commission by the Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media, she reported that the need to interact with peers is often missed out when it comes to websites and apps aimed at children. A design that is too childlike and a limited scope of search results could be reasons why children in this age group turn to services not aimed at them at an early age, according to Croll. Anke Meinders from the fragfinn editorial team confirmed the positive feedback from young users of the site and their interest in being able to socialise with other children.

    In order to communicate with each other, but also with other people such as their families, pre-teens use platforms and messengers that do not provide for this according to their terms and conditions (T&C’s). A combination of pragmatism and a lack of knowledge of the potential risks associated with this use on the side of young users, but sometimes also the providers' lack of interest in enforcing their own terms and conditions, encourage this behaviour. Various ways of countering this were discussed. For example, a child-appropriate and secure messenger for children and young people could fulfil the need for communication. For instance, knowing the age or the reliable assignment to an age group of all users of a service, it would be conceivable for existing services to also address younger users and in this case provide them with special protection and prevention mechanisms.

    Suggestions were also discussed as to how providers, parents, media literacy and regulation can contribute to the realisation of children's rights to access to information and freedom of expression as well as (media) education. It is now up to the stakeholders involved to translate the ideas from the event into concrete actions.

  • Published 14.03.24

    IGF 2024: Building our Multistakeholder Digital Future

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    The 19. Internet Governance Forum will take place from 15 to 19 December in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) under the motto “Building our Multistakeholder Digital Future”. The conference programme will be designed jointly by the participants. In an initial participation phase, themes and issues were identified. Accordingly, the consultations will focus on

    • Harnessing innovation and balancing risks in digital space
    • Enhancing the digital contribution to peace, development, and sustainability
    • Advancing human rights and inclusion in the digital age
    • Improving digital governance for the Internet We Want

    Proposals for programme items can now be submitted until 30 April, 23:59 (UTC).

    Session proposals should be based on one of the above-mentioned thematic focuses and take into account the diversity of speakers and presenters in terms of gender, regional representation and stakeholder group as well as their participation on site or online. Proposals can be submitted as workshops, open forums, lightning talks, networking sessions and others. These should always provide for meaningful remote participation in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take part. In addition to submitting session proposals, it will also be possible to apply for a remote hub. This is attractive, for example, if a group is taking part online together and would like to be actively involved in the discussion of the programme items. Corresponding submissions are possible until 30 July. The call for session proposals can be reached here and the call for remote hubs via this page. All the necessary information and the forms for submitting proposals can be found on these pages.

    As a project in the field of children's rights in the digital environment, we would like to encourage the interests and needs of young people to be actively incorporated into the IGF's programme design and to address key issues for the realisation of the protection, provision and participation of young people online. Jutta Croll at jcroll@digitale-chancen.de and Torsten Krause at tkrause@digitale-chancen.de will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist you in drafting your proposal.

    (The article was updated on 20 March 2024 to include the deadlines and information for submissions to the IGF.)

  • Published 12.03.24

    Hackathon for more child protection

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    From 25 to 26 April, the Belgian child protection organisation Child Focus and NTT are holding a joint hackathon in an attempt to develop solutions for the protection of children online. The focus is on five challenges: The aim is to develop a reporting procedure for children that is as child-friendly and confidential as possible so that they can report harmful and distressing experiences and receive help and support quickly. Furthermore, the aim is to develop effective ways to raise awareness of the often illegal dissemination of images of sexual abuse of children and to provide information on how these processes can be easily prevented. Solutions are also being sought for the well-being of analysts who analyse images of children for illegal depictions of sexual violence at the relevant institutions. The hackathon will also look at how the protection of privacy and the protection of children can be balanced and how the design of services and regulations can contribute to the protection of children online. The aim is also to work together on how information analyses and processing can be supported with the help of technology.

    Further information on the hackathon can be found here. Registration is available on this page until at least 21 March. The organisers reserve the right to extend the deadline.

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