Jump to main content keyboard shortcut 2 Jump to navigation menu keyboard shortcut 1 Jump to search keyboard shortcut 5


  • Published 05.12.22

    Focus on the people: The 17th United Nations Internet Governance Forum ended on Friday, 02 December in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Jutta Croll, SDC

    The 17th Internet Governance Forum concluded on 2 December with a call to urgently connect the 2.7 billion who are unconnected by increasing infrastructure investment, fostering digital literacy, harnessing advanced technologies, and building a safe and secure digital space where fundamental human rights are realized.

    Over the course of five days, more than 5.100 participants representing 170 countries gathered in person in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and joined online with one mission in mind - to build a resilient Internet that is open, free, safe and inclusive.

    The human-centered approach of the event was mirrored by an abundance of sessions dedicated to children’s rights and child protection. On the final day of the IGF the so-called National and Regional IGFs from around the world held their joint session under the title “Actions needed to keep our children safe online”. Representatives from Slovenia, Chad, China, Nepal, Nigeria and France stressed the need for further action to make the international vision for online conditions for children come true: the rights of every child must be respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment, and children should have access to age-appropriate and empowering digital content, and information from a wide diversity of trusted sources while being protected from various dangerous risks.

    The Internet Governance Forum 2022 put a spotlight on Africa which is the least connected region in the world, with 60 per cent of the population offline. Aiming for a better digital future that provides space for everybody to participate, this year’s IGF saw an increase in representation from the Global South, with 44% of participants coming from Africa. Speaking on behalf of the host country, H.E. Mr. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “Ethiopia has persisted in its drive for prosperity and in building a digital economy”. The continent’s growing youth population holds the key to transforming the region’s digital future.

    The interlinkages between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and all facets of digital space governance were evident in the over 300 sessions that took place throughout the week. Over 45 entities from the UN system, including the Heads of Global Communications and the Human Rights Office, and the UN Envoy on Technology lent their support in the IGF dialogues and deliberations that will inform the Global Digital Compact development process.

    The Addis Ababa IGF Messages encapsulate the urgent priorities and actionable recommendations from governments, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders for a safe, sustainable and inclusive digital future.

    The 18. IGF will be held Oct. 8 -12, 2023 in Kyoto, Japan

    You will find further information on all sessions related to children’s rights and child protection in our daily reports from the event:

  • Published 02.12.22

    How do we get this Right? - Day 2 and 3 dealing with Rights and Responsibilities?


    Day 2 started with WS #369 Harmonising online safety regulation.

    The session was organized by statutory regulatory agencies dealing with online safety issues. Speakers addressed the question how it can be ensured that regulatory regimes are interoperable and how co-operation to protect human rights online can be well organised. They pointed out that the global regulatory landscape for online safety is rapidly evolving. Australia passed legislation to establish an online safety regulator in 2015, and Fiji followed in 2018. The European Union is seeking to set global standards with the enactment of the Digital Services Act, and the UK has aspirations to be the safest place to be online, via its Online Safety Bill. These so-called First movers in online safety regulation have formed the new Global Online Safety Regulators Network.

    The session concluded with the following key takeaways:

    • Legislators around the world are increasingly engaging with online safety questions, and implementing novel regulatory regimes aimed at enhancing online safety and addressing various online safety risks. In this context, more and more independent online safety regulators are emerging, whose job it is to implement and enforce novel online safety regulations.
    • To ensure people are protected online and to ensure that regulation is effective and consistent across boarders, international collaboration amongst regulators is essential. While substantive rules may differ across the world, there is significant scope for alignment around regulatory toolboxes and for the sharing of best-practices and expertise. The new Global Online Safety Regulators Network will serve as a crucial vehicle for collaboration.

    Later that day in the main session Our Digital Future: How Dynamic Coalitions support the Global Digital Compact representatives from various Dynamic Coalitions discussed how specific intersessional activities of IGF dynamic coalitions can contribute to the evolution of the so-called IGF+ eco-system. Jutta Croll was speaking for the Dynamic Coalition on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment. She referred to the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation that outlines the prevalence of child sexual exploitation and abuse as a major concern. Croll stressed children’s rights are a cross-cutting issue that the Dynamic Coalition is addressing with a strategic focus on facilitating the stakeholder dialogue on human rights advocating for children being respected as rights holders and early adopters of new technology. In dialogue with Amandeep Singh Gill - UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology (Tech Envoy), Ex-Officio Member of IGF Leadership Panel (LP) the panelists outlined how the IGF community of stakeholders will advance equitable and secure the digital transformation in support of sustainable development and greater social well-being worldwide. Amandeep Singh Gill encouraged the community to contribute to the Global Digital Compact thus shaping the future based on human rights, also children’s rights, and equal opportunities in education and profession.

    Early on Day 3 the Dynamic Coalition on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment held their session Translating data & laws into action for digital child rights.

    Faced with growing concern about the safety, security and privacy of children in digital environments, experts have long highlighted a broad range of data, legal, regulatory, policy and technology gaps needed to build robust prevention and response mechanisms. Finding a balance between these areas of intervention continues to be a complex issue and is the topic of much ongoing debate at national, regional and global level. At the same time, there have been significant developments across all of these areas in recent years. The session started with an introduction to General Comment No. 25 on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment that emphasises in para 30 regularly updated data and research as being crucial to understanding the implications of the digital environment for children’s lives, evaluating its impact on their rights and assessing the effectiveness of State interventions. The research done by the Disrupting Harm project conducted in 13 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa by ECPAT International, UNICEF Innocenti and INTERPOL being presented next is paying tribute to this. In a second step an instrument developed by ecpat and the Digital Opportunities Foundation was shown, providing a a framework for assessing violence against children. Jutta Croll emphasized the need to address sexual violence not only when it has already happened and is spread online in the form of child sexual abuse material. Service providers and people who care for children need to understand where the escalation of sexual violence starts from and were to implement countermeasures to combat the most horrific forms of exploitation and abuse.

    Key takeaways from the session were as follows:

    1. The collection of data using tested methodologies that enable comparison is essential to ensure child rights in the digital environment. This can directly influence policy at the national level.
    2. Education remains essential as a preventive measure but cannot replace the need for proactive measures by online service providers.

    The sessions Calls to Action are phrased as follows:

    1. Governments must provide funding for such data collection and analysis, as outlined in existing legal frameworks.
    2. Industry must respond in a coordinated way and adopt a safety-by-design approach.

    Further resources can be found on the homepages of Core Evidence, End Violence, Global Kids Online, and childrens-rights.digital

    Eventually the day closed with the Main Session Connecting All People & Safeguarding Human Rights. Again in this session regulation was discussed as a means to address the various threats that the online environment poses to human rights, as for example internet shutdowns restricting the human right to access of information and freedom of speech. As further hazards to human rights hate speech and gender-based violence, child sexual exploitation and abuse were mentioned. Dawit Bekele - Regional Vice President for Africa at the Internet Society enthusiastically put it all together in his final remarks: “Any right will need time to be established. Access to the Internet needs to become a right at national as well as on global level. Governments need to accept that. We need to make sure that the Internet is a safe place for everyone.”

  • Published 30.11.22

    Help me if you can … Resilience in the focus of Day 1 at IGF 2022

    Jutta Croll, SDC

    Day 1 of the Internet Governance Forum started with a networking session on helplines working with communities. It turned out there is great interest from civil society organizations and governments on the African continent to engage in child online protection. For example it was reported, Rwanda has adopted a law on child online safety. Representatives from several other African countries and also from India joined the debate how best to protect children online.

    Opening Ceremony: Resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future

    This year’s key themes are focused on the UN Secretary-General’s proposed Digital Compact. Those five themes are:

    • Connecting all people and safeguarding human rights
    • Avoiding Internet fragmentation
    • Governing data and protecting privacy
    • Enabling safety, security and accountability
    • Addressing advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI)

    Speakers in the opening Ceremony of IGF 2022 referred to the 2.7 billion people still left offline and encouraged participants in the IGF to find solutions for creating a human-centered and resilient digital future. Especially Lily Edinam Botsyoe, representing the global youth, called upon the IGF community to close the digital gap and create the conditions for meaningful participation. She regards cooperation for a secure, open and robust Internet as necessary and she claimed “Young people are ready to get involved”. This was echoed by Vint Cerf, so-called father of the Internet, who referred to the Herculean task of achieving safety, security, privacy, utility, accessibility, operational sustainability, adaptability etc., but, he said: “It’s time to take concrete steps, let’s roll-up our sleeves and get to work.”

    On behalf of UNESCO Mr. Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, demanded a regulatory framework and cautioned not to take regulation for censorship.

    Safety and security were also in the focus of WS #523 Youthful approach at data protection in messaging apps. Special attention was given to quantum computing which will have a massive impact on how users’ data disclosed in messaging apps can by analysed and used either for their benefit or detrimental.

    Another issue of safety was discussed in WS #70 Fighting the creators and spreaders of untruths online. Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner asked for a safer product design, algorithmic transparency, and the development of critical thinking skills to counteract the spreading of untruths. Rehobot Ayalew, who is working as a professional fact checker in Ethiopia explained how difficult it is to check what is true and what is false in a country where there exist 80 different languages, with content even in the five main languages being difficult to oversee. The mental health of the fact checkers was also very important to her.

    Later in the afternoon WS #183 Digital Wellbeing of Youth: Selfgenerated sexualised content was held, organized by the German Children’s Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) and the German Digital Opportunities Foundation (Stiftung Digitale Chancen). Speakers in the session dealt with the following questions:

    • What does “self-generated” mean?
    • Which answers does legislation provide?
    • Which answers do further national policies and transnational strategies provide?
    • How can Internet Governance support a common approach in respect of different political systems and cultural backgrounds?

    After a lively debate with participants in the room and online the session was concluded with the following key messages:

    • Since usually legislation refers to consensuality in order to differentiate images of abuse and sexual violence from usual behaviour in adolesence, a common definition of what "consensual" means is necessary, taking into account cultural differences.
    • General Comment 25 on the rights of children in the digital environment provides for a framework to address the issue of sexualised content, that needs to be translated into national legislation and transnational measures.

    The session organisers called to action as follows:

    • In order to address the issues properly, consider the wording in regard to self-generated sexualised content, the definition of "consensual" and the wording in regard of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexualised violence.
    • Make the voices of young people heard in alle matters that affect them and give the views of the child due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. Take into account that sexual orientation and the formation of one's own sexual identity is a developmental task in adolescence.

  • Published 29.11.22

    Give Way for Children’s Rights: The Internet Governance Forum 2022 started on November 28th, in Addis Ababa

    Jutta Croll, SDC

    One of the early events on the so-called Day Zero was “#35 Harass me not”. Participants were informed on gender-based violence on the Internet in various countries and respective countermeasures. There is legislation in many countries addressing the issue, f. e. Indonesia has just adopted a new cyber law including a paragraph on gender-based violence. But it was said, what is lacking in most countries is the implementation of the law in practice.

    The then following Global Youth Summit prominently featured on Day Zero and was well attended by youths from around the globe.

    Barrack Otieno from the Kenyan government stressed how important it is to have the voice of the youths at the table of Internet Governance with this global youth summit, and not only on the menu as it had been before. He referred to 1.2 billion young people globally und encouraged them to “take the power, not to wait for it being given to them”.

    This recommendation is truly in line with Art. 12 of the UN-CRC “(1) States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.” No doubt the digital environment is “a matter affecting children”.

    Speakers also referred to the need to give access to the digital environment to every child no matter where they are living, which is in line with the General Comment No. 25, A. Non-discrimination, para 9 “The right to non-discrimination requires that States parties ensure that all children have equal and effective access to the digital environment in ways that are meaningful for them.“ State parties should oblige service providers to connect rural areas on the African continent and elsewhere, even though there might not be immediate return of investment.

    Internet shutdowns are also a huge concern of young people highlighted by a guy from Tschad who asked: “How can young people achieve to address their national governments to not shutdown Internet, claiming they have a right to access?” In response Emmanuel from Togo suggested to engage with policy makers, like it is possible in the parliamentarians’ track at the IGF. Young people should vote for good laws and start to test these laws and then celebrate all the small victories achieved.

    Eventually in her closing speech H.E. Ms. Huria Ali Mahdi, State Minister, Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Ethiopia underlined: “If the voice of youth is not heard it’s not only that we lose their perspective it will also destroy the future of our country.”

    Further session on the topic of "Growing up in a digital environment" can be found in this focus article.

  • Published 14.11.22

    Open letter to the European Union

    On November 18, the European Day on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, the EU CSA Legislation Advocacy Group circulates a new joint letter signed by civil society organisations to call on EU policy-makers to make the internet a safe place for children and to concentrate on effective measures based on the European Commission’s proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.

    Civil Society and Child Rights Organisations Call to Action: We must make the Internet a Safe Place for Children

    November 18, 2022 - European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse

    Every child should have the chance to be safe, curious, and happy - to simply be a kid. Unfortunately, the reality of childhood is very different for a growing number of children who experience sexual abuse and exploitation. Recent surveys show that more than half of children, both boys and girls, experience sexual harms online during childhood. This includes being sent sexually explicit content from an adult or unknown persons, being asked to keep part of their sexually explicit online relationship a secret, having sexually explicit images of them shared without their consent or being asked to do something sexually explicit online they were uncomfortable with. In extreme cases, grooming for child sexual exploitation may lead to child disappearances.

    The horrors of abuse are cruel enough - but as the internet has evolved and grown, so has the viral spread of child sexual abuse materials - the evidence of that abuse: 85 million of images and videos were reported globally in 2021 - with Europe hosting over 62 % of this material. This sharing and resharing revictimizes these children over and over.

    This proliferation of abuse materials makes it hard for those children to live normal and healthy lives. In a survey conducted in 2017, nearly 70 % of respondents indicated they worry constantly about being recognised by someone who has seen images of their abuse, 83 had suicidal ideation, 60 % attempted suicide.

    The spread of child sexual abuse material is not the only harm that our children experience as a result of their abuse. For example, chat functions allow perpetrators to groom children online, either to meet in real life or to solicit sexually explicit imagery from them and extort them with it afterwards to continuously provide more. And livestream technology is used to stream the abuse of children while criminals watch and guide the abuse from around the globe.

    Every single day, children’s rights to protection from sexual abuse and exploitation are violated. Overwhelming as this may seem, we are far from powerless to act. And we have a moral as well as legal responsibility to fight this heinous crime. Today, on the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, we want to explain why this moment is so critical for Europe and the world.

    We are not helpless. Advances in technology and law enforcement, along with a strong child protection ecosystem, could provide the tools we need to eradicate child sexual abuse materials from online platforms. All of this could be applied proportionately, with strictly regulated technologies that respect the privacy of internet users.

    What has been done to date by the entire child protection ecosystem, including technology companies, merits applause. All voluntary actions must be continued with a solid legal basis and regulatory framework. But, when looking at the exponentially growing scope of the problem, it’s clear that this won’t be enough. The European Union must live up to its promise to make the internet a safe place for children.

    Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed legislation to do exactly that. This legislation is currently being reviewed and considered in the European Parliament and by Member States in the Council of the European Union. We, the signatories of this letter, thank all parties involved for their hard work and high ambitions. This is an opportunity that EU policy-makers can’t afford to miss. Citizens across the EU have expressed widespread support (68 %) for the EU to introduce long-term legislation that will keep children safe online and for the use of automated tools to identify child sexual abuse materials. We call on everyone with a stake in fighting this problem to concentrate on effective solutions to strengthen the Commission’s proposal and ensure it brings tangible outcomes for child protection online.

    We all bring different expertise to the table. Together, we can find solutions that will help us build a world where children can be safe, curious, and happy - one in which every child is free to simply be a child.

    If you would like to support and sign the letter, please send an email to csa.euadvocacy@gmail.com

    List of signatories:

    1. Association Meilleur Avenir pour Nos Enfants (AMANE) (Morocco)
    2. ASTRA - Anti-trafficking Action (Serbia)
    3. Brave Movement (International)
    4. Child Helpline International (International)
    5. Child Rescue Coalition (International)
    6. Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk / German Children´s Fund (Germany)
    7. Different & Equal (Europe/Albania)
    8. ECPAT Germany (Germany
    9. ECPAT International (International)
    10. ECPAT Luxembourg (Luxembourg / International)
    11. ECPAT Sweden (Sweden)
    12. Empowering Children Foundation (Poland)
    13. Eurochild (Europe)
    14. Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation (Hungary)
    15. "Hope For Children" CRC Policy Center (International)
    16. International Falcon Movement - Socialist Educational International (IFM-SEI) (International)
    17. International Justice Mission's Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (International)
    18. Internet Watch Foundation (International/United Kingdom)
    19. Lasten perusoikeudet - Children´s Fundamental Rights ry (Finland)
    20. Missing Children Europe (Europe)
    21. Montessori Bundesverband Deutschland e.V. (Germany)
    22. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (International)
    23. National Network for Children in Bulgaria (NNC), NNC's Legal Aid Network (Bulgaria)
    24. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) (United Kingdom)
    25. Stiftung Digitale Chancen (Germany)
    26. Sentinel Foundation (International / Latin America)
    27. SOLWODI Deutschland e.V. (Germany)
    28. Suojellaan Lapsia, Protect Children ry. (PC) (International/Finland)
    29. Terre des Hommes (International)
    30. The National Child Protection Task Force (International)
    31. Thorn (International)
    32. Vatra Psycho - Social Centre (Albania)
    33. WeProtect Global Alliance (International)
    34. #stop_sexting project (Ukraine)

    The open letter can be downloaded as a PDF here.

<< < 1 2 3 4 5 ... > >>