How to combat sexualised violence: A child rights perspective!Torsten Krause, SDC
The European Commission’s draft regulation on preventing and combating child sexual abuse released on 11 May 2022 is subject to heated debates in the political area and in civil society, especially in Germany. Some actors focus primarily on the importance of the right to privacy, while others emphasise the importance of child protection, which can easily lead to the perception that these objectives cannot be reconciled. Most recently, the Digital Committee of the German Bundestag dealt with the draft regulation in a hearing titled "chat control" on 1 March 2023 based on a catalogue of eighteen questions submitted in advance to be answered by the invited experts.
As civil society actors, ECPAT Germany, Innocence in Danger, the German Children’s Fund and the Digital Opportunities Foundation took on these questions and focused on the rights of children when answering them. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to protection from violence and sexual exploitation and the protection of privacy are not hierarchically related to each other, but when in balance with all other children’s rights shall enable children and youths to grow up well. In this regard, the various rights must be regularly weighed against each other. The risk assessment that service providers shall be obliged to apply to their services according to the draft EU regulation is therefore of particular importance, because depending on how risky the service appears to be, the provider must work towards minimising the risks as effectively as possible by targeted precautionary and safety measures, in order to make a significant contribution to a safe online environment for children. Prior to a detection order, which is referred to in the public debate and also by the Digital Committee as a so-called “chat control”, the draft regulation foresees a process comprising several steps, in which national bodies and data protection authorities are explicitly involved in addition to the newly to be established EU Centre. This is to ensure that the technologies used to minimise risks are effective in detecting and preventing the dissemination of known or new depictions of sexualised violence against children or in the prevention of contacting children with a sexualised intention (so called grooming). They should be sufficiently reliable with regard to potential false positives, and respect the right to privacy as well as the confidentiality of interpersonal communication and the protection of personal data as much as possible.
ECPAT Germany, Innocence in Danger, the German Children’s Fund and the Digital Opportunities Foundation presented their position on the EU draft regulation in a digital press conference on 4 April. In their joint statement, which is based on the questionnaire of the Digital Committee of the German Bundestag, the organisations explain in detail how the protection of children from sexualised violence online and the right to privacy of all users in the digital environment can be realised. They make it clear that the European Commission does not intend to monitor and control all interpersonal communication without any reason, as the term "chat control" suggests. At the same time, they show that a holistic approach is needed to fully realise child protection. In this regard it is also important to reflect the draft regulation also in the context of the Better Internet for Kids Strategy (BIK+) of the European Commission.
The joint statement is only available in German language.
IGF 2023 Call for Session ProposalsMarlene Fasolt, SDC
The IGF is an annual global multistakeholder forum aimed at facilitating a dialogue on Internet governance. This year’s Internet Governance Forum will be held in a hybrid format in Kyoto, Japan from October 8-12, under the overarching theme "The Internet We Want - Empowering All People." Stakeholders are invited to submit proposals to organize various types of sessions, including workshops, open forums, lightning talks, networking sessions, and more. The deadline to submit session proposals has been extended until 24 May 2023 11:59pm UTC. The submitted session proposals must each address one of the following subthemes:
- Emerging Tech
- Universal Access
- Data Governance
- Rights and Freedom
- Digital Cooperation
- Economic Issues
- Environmental Sustainability
- Media and Content
- Technical and Operation Topics
It is important for children’s rights to play a significant role in this year’s programme. Especially the subthemes human rights and freedoms as well as cybersecurity, cybercrime and online safety, should include children’s rights considerations.
We are looking forward to the active involvement of the children's rights community in the programme design and the development of proposals, as was the case last year. When submitting workshop proposals, it is particularly important to ensure the diversity of everyone involved regarding regional origin, societal group, gender and age.
As this year’s IGF will take place in a hybrid format, meaningful opportunities for participation must be provided for all participants, whether online or on-site. In addition, at least one moderator and two speakers must participate on-site in Kyoto.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to submit a proposal and need support in approaching international partner organizations or selecting speakers. We are also happy to help with the wording of the information to be provided in the submission form.
Further information can be found here.
Children’s Rights feature prominently in submissions for the IGF 2023 programSDC
Each year, the thematic focus of the IGF is determined by the community in a joint survey. For the 18th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) hosted by the Government of Japan from 8 to 12 October 2023 in Kyoto all stakeholders were invited to take part in the process. They were given the opportunity to select up to three themes and up to three issues under each theme that they think should be represented at this year’s IGF.
Stakeholders could select the following ten thematic areas:
- Cybersecurity (17%)
- Emerging Tech (15%)
- Universal Access (13%)
- Data Governance (13%)
- Rights and Freedom (11%)
- Digital Cooperation (10%)
- Economic Issues (7%)
- Environmental Sustainability (7%)
- Media and Content (6%)
- Technical and Operation Topics (2%)
From a child rights perspective we welcome the high number of stakeholders from all regional areas having submitted issues regarding children’s rights and we expect this year’s IGF will have a strong focus on children and young people. Child online safety was seen as the most important issue under the thematic area Cybersecurity, and children’s rights online was the most often chosen issue under the thematic area Rights and Freedom. In addition, many submissions were made concerning youth engagement. In the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) child online safety and children’s rights online were among the four most often submitted issues.
The call for thematic inputs was open for almost 4 weeks, from January 6 to January 31, 2023. 193 stakeholders marked 524 themes and 945 issues in the IGF online submission system. The biggest number of submitted issues came from the African region and the civil society stakeholder group. A full list with all received submissions as well as an analysis of the results is available on the IGF website.
We thank all child rights advocates for their engagement in order for children’s rights to feature prominently in the IGF program 2023.
Based on the results of the call the Multistakeholder Advisory Group has set the thematic focus and program for the IGF 2023. The overarching theme of this year’s IGF is "The Internet We Want - Empowering All People" and will address the following topics in various event formats:
- AI & Emerging Technologies
- Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
- Cybersecurity, Cybercrime and Online Safety
- Data Governance and Trust
- Digital Divides and Inclusion
- Global Digital Governance and Cooperation
- Human Rights and Freedoms
- Sustainability & Environment
The Call for session proposals is under planning and expected to open in early April 2023.
Safer Internet Day: Protecting Young People against Sexual Violence OnlineJutta Croll, SDC
7 February is Safer Internet Day, the day when organisations and people around the world campaign for a safer internet. Children and young people today spend a lot of time on the internet and more online time also means a higher risk of sexualised violence online. That is why the project Kinderrechte.digital, together with ecpat Germany, has developed an instrument as part of the work of the National Council against Sexual Violence to identify where sexualised violence begins and in which areas countermeasures are necessary. The tool is intended for providers and developers of services and applications as well as for people who work with children and young people or are responsible for them. The tool enables providers and developers to assess the risks potentially associated with their services. Thus they will be able to recognize where suitable countermeasures for risk minimization need to be implemented. The tool provides educators with information about the possible initiation and course of sexualized violence against children and adolescents. In this way, risks associated with the digital environment can also be taken into account in the classical protective concepts of educational institutions.
The Instrument for Risk Assessment of Sexualized Violence in the Digital Environment can be downloaded here.