Children’s Rights and the Digital Services Act
The Digital Opportunities Foundation is putting its mark under a joint Open Letter from the members of the National Coalition Germany - Network for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the EU regulation "Digital Services Act" currently being discussed in the parliamentary procedure. The signatories recognise the ambitious goals of the European legislative project, but do not see the rights and protection of children and young people in the digital environment sufficiently guaranteed.For example, the EU regulation is clearly behind the regulations of the German Youth Protection Act, which was only modernised in 2021. Precautionary measures, as provided for in Article 24a of the Youth Protection Act for providers of digital services, should in future only be prescribed at European level for very large platforms with more than 45 million users. The signatories therefore call on the federal ministries involved in the European trialogue to include the rights of children to protection, empowerment and participation in the further negotiations on the EU regulation and thus to ensure that the priority of the best interests of the child according to Art. 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is also safeguarded in the digital environment. You can download the English text of the open letter here.
Children's rights and democracy
"Fit for Democracy" is the theme of today's Safer Internet Day. Children have the right to take part in democracy, and the digital environment offers them opportunities to exercise their rights regardless of their age, their social status and the region where they are living. This is underlined in particular in Chapter VI. of General Comment No. 25 on the rights of children in the digital environment "Fundamental rights and freedoms".
Access to information is an essential prerequisite for participating in democratic decision-making processes. The digital environment offers unique opportunities for children to realise their right to access information. In this regard, information and communication media, including digital and online content, fulfil an important function. Therefore, States Parties to the United Nations are called upon by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to ensure that children have access to information in the digital environment. They should also ensure that children's right to freedom of expression in the digital environment is not restricted. This means that even measures that may be necessary to protect children, such as the use of filtering software, must be lawful, necessary and proportionate. Children should be able to make their political or other views and identities public in the digital environment without being exposed to unreasonable criticism, hostility, threats or even punishment; the States Parties should also create the conditions for this.
Fundamental rights also include freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which can be impaired in the digital environment by attempts to influence and manipulate. Media literacy and the ability to assess content are therefore important building blocks of "fitness for democracy".
The digital environment can enable children in a special way to form their political identity and to participate in social discussdiscussions. Children who participated in the drafting of the 25th General Comment say that the digital environment offers them welcome opportunities to meet, exchange and engage with peers, decision-makers and like-minded people. This is the basis for being part of a democratic society.
Fit for Democracy also means making these basic rights known to children in the digital environment, safeguarding them and making them a reality.
Safer Internet Day 2022 - Focus on democracy
On Tuesday, 8 February 2022, Safer Internet Day will take place for the 19th time. Under the main theme "Together for a better internet", there are various actions around the world. "Klicksafe", an initiative of the European Commission and German coordinator for SID 2022, has the motto "Fit for democracy, strong for society". Climate change, pandemics and radical right-wing and extremist movements are daily challenges for our democracy, which is why this year's focus is on the following questions: How do we make our democracy strong? How do we succeed in this test in everyday digital life? How can we understand diversity as wealth and strength? How can the fair and constructive exchange of different points of view be practised and trained?
To strengthen democratic competence, the EU initiative klicksafe creates space for discussions on numerous levels:
- In 2022, the klicksafe experts will publish new teaching materials on the topics of democracy promotion and media literacy. Projects and working materials for educational work will be available in advance as a compact download package at klicksafe.de/sid
- Content and discussions will be available on social media under the hashtags #FitForDemocracy and #SID2022.
- All interested parties are called upon to participate in the day of action themselves, to become active and creative and thus make a strong case for democracy. Planned actions can be registered at klicksafe.de/sid.
You can find further information in English about the Safer Internet Day here
IGF 2022 - Call for Thematic Inputs
All IGF stakeholders are invited to submit inputs to the IGF Secretariat to assist with the planning of thematic focus of the IGF 2022 process and its 17th annual meeting.
Deadline for submission is 14 February.
Day 4 of the IGF: Final report from the Internet Governance Forum 2021
Under the overarching theme Internet United, the Internet Governance Forum held in Katowice, Poland, from Dec. 6th to 10th featured discussions on some of the most pressing Internet and digital policy issues, from meaningful access, digital rights, cybersecurity, environmental sustainability and climate change to the challenges and opportunities offered by advanced technologies such as AI and quantum computing.
As the 16th IGF wrapped up following five days of lively discussions over the course of 250 sessions attended by over 9,600 participants, the United Nations presented the main outcome and recommendations of the event - the Katowice IGF Messages. With regard to children's rights, IGF 2021 has formulated a clear message: States are called upon to consider transposing the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) General Comment 25 (GC25) on children’s rights in the digital environment into national regulation and legislation, and to ensure compliance. The UNCRC itself is invited to tailor recommendations to individual countries during dialogue and review processes related to GC25.
To ensure that human rights are enforced and upheld in the digital space, it needs to be carefully reflected on how technology serves humanity, as opposed to simply putting in place safeguards around the edges and waiting until harms occur. States’ duty to prevent potential harm of human rights (e.g. through regulation and enforcement) needs to be complemented with (a) effective access to remedy when people are victims of human rights violation, and (b) responsibility on the part of the technical private sectors in integrating human rights due diligence and impact assessments throughout the entire life cycle of a technology.
Women and girls are disproportionately victimised online and find it difficult to obtain support. Governments need to harmonise legislation to protect victims of non consensual intimate image abuse, ensure easy access to redress. Network and platform policies need to accommodate a spectrum of global cultures. Peer support networks for girls who are victims of online gender based violence, such as Safer Internet Centers, must be strengthened, while digital literacy should be improved through school curricula and start from a young age, before they venture online.
Please find the complete messages from Katowice here. Stakeholders are invited to review the messages and provide feedback to email@example.com no later than Monday 20 December 2021.
Once again, the IGF 2021 programme, put together by the United Nations Multistakeholder Advisory Group, has shown that technical innovation and economic success must go hand in hand with the protection of human rights. Only in this way the common objective of a free, inclusive and united internet can be sustained.