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.