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  • Published 06.03.20

    Call for participation in the programme development for the IGF 2020

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The United Nations Multistakeholder Advisory Group calls for active participation in the programme development for the Internet Governance Forum 2020. Proposals for workshops can now be submitted. In addition, there is the possibility to apply for hosting an Open Forum (only open to certain types of organisations), for arranging pre-events on Day Zero (the day before the official opening) and for a booth at the IGF Village. For the first time, all participants with musical talent are also invited to rock the stage at the IGF Music Night.

    The deadline for submissions is now extended til April 22nd 2020, at midnight (UTC)!

    On invitation by the Polish Government, the 15th Internet Governance Forum will take place in Katowice from 2-6 November 2020 under the main topic Internet United. In order to follow up on the results of the IGF 2019 in Berlin, the three thematic strands of the previous year "Data", "Inclusion" and "Trust" will be continued in Poland and complemented by "Environment" as a fourth strand.

    Issues relating to children's rights are of great importance in all four thematic areas. Aspects of protection and security will be addressed particularly in the thematic strand "Trust". In the light of an upcoming General Comment to the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child in regard of the digital environment the IGF 2020 will provide for an excellent opportunity to discuss theses issues further engaging a multitude of stakeholders from around the globe.

    We encourage the child rights community strongly to participate in the programming and to submit a broad range of proposals as it was the case last year. To achieve acceptance of proposals it is particularly important to ensure the diversity in regard of regional origin, societal group, gender and age. Please contact us at jcroll@digitale-chancen.de if you would like to submit a workshop proposal and you need support in addressing international partner organisations or in selecting speakers. We will also be happy to help you fill in the necessary information in the submission form.

  • Published 11.02.20

    When I grow up I want to be ...

    Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    On 13 February, Safer Internet Day 2020, stakeholders from more than 150 countries around the world will participate in the implementation of measures on its key topic "Together for a better internet". #checkwemdufolgst is the motto set by the initiative klicksafe.de as German coordinator for SID 2020. The main focus is the role of influencers in social media and how to deal with them consciously. Influencers are people who use social media channels with their personal profiles and through their strong presence, their high reputation and their reach in social networks, are able to influence the opinion of others.

    From a child rights perspective, various aspects are relevant here: On the one hand, the rights of children as audiences or followers of influencers and, on the other hand, the rights of children who themselves act as influencers.

    Due to the large number of different formats, it is often difficult even for adults to tell whether the content disseminated on the channels of influencers is pure self-portrayal, consciously influencing the attitude and opinion of the recipients or product placement. Children, who have less experience in distinguishing between editorial content and advertising, often lack an orientation here. Their right to freedom of expression and the freedom to obtain information (Art. 13 UN-CRC) may be affected by "hidden" messages in the content disseminated by influencers. At the same time, advertising messages, if they provide subtle incentives to buy or even aggressively address children's needs, may violate the child's right to protection from commercial exploitation (Art. 32).

    Today, however, children and young people themselves are increasingly appearing as influencers in social media. "Usually the young internet stars can be seen in videos or pictures, testing and evaluating toys and other products, trying on clothes, giving make-up and styling tips or personal recommendations and opinions", write Bettina Goerdeler and Anna Grebe from the initiative agency „Growing up well with media“ in an article in the magazine "Frühe Kindheit der Dt. Liga für das Kind", 2/2019, pp. 42 - 49. This makes the channels of these minors attractive as advertising media for companies, sometimes they even become lucrative sources of income for the families. Goerdeler and Grebe point out that children who act as influencers in this way can lose their self-determination and that the children’s social interactions are increasingly commercialised. Here too, the question arises as to whether the protection against economic exploitation under Art. 32 is still respected, especially since the regulations governing the advertising industry to protect children do not take effect in the private production of online content.

    The sometimes deep insights that child influencers provide into their everyday life by publishing photos and videos on the Internet carry the risk of violating their privacy (Art. 16). The minors are most often too young to assess for themselves what consequences this form of self-portrayal may have for their further lives. They are also potentially exposed to being contacted by persons from their audience without knowing their true identity. These contacts probably also bear the risk of infringing children’s right to be protected from sexual abuse (Art. 34).

    Last but not least, the child influencers themselves sometimes disregard the personal rights of other children when, for example, their images or voices are made public in the posted content without them being asked.

    Influencers are the heroes of today's children: An Internet search with the term "career aspirations influencer" delivers more than 10,000 search-results, and the online magazine "ZEITjUNG" headlines "When I grow up, I'll be an influencer!. In order to ensure that childhood remains a carefree period of life in face of the digital transformation of society, the prevailing circumstances must be renegotiated and redesigned. For growing up well in the digital world, children need orientation and support. They need to know about their own rights, and they need rules that they understand and can act upon accordingly; this includes, for example, posting pictures of others on the Internet only with consent. In addition to educational measures, however, a legal framework is also needed which takes account of new forms of commercialisation of childhood and guarantees respect for children's rights. This will enable us to implement the priority theme of SID 2020 "Together for a better Internet".

  • Published 18.12.19

    Thank you Berlin, welcome Katowice: Children’s Rights on the Agenda of IGF 2020

    Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    During the IGF 2019, UN Secretary General António Guterres appointed nine new members for the United Nations Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) on the Internet Governance Forum. Anriette Esterhuysen is the first civil society representative to be appointed MAG Chairperson. For the project childrens-rights.digital Jutta Croll again supports the work of the MAG in 2020.

    In its first virtual meeting on 17 December, the newly constituted body began preparations for the IGF 2020 in Katowice. The summary of the discussions will be published regularly at https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/mag-meeting-summaries. From 14 to 16 January, the first open consultation of the MAG will take place in Geneva, the registration for the meeting is open to any person, it is required for admission to the United Nations Palace.

    Human rights with a special focus on the rights and protection of children and young people in the digital environment were a thematic focus of the IGF 2019, which is also reflected in the opening speech of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. We will build on this to ensure that the interests of children and young people are adequately taken into account in the IGF 2020 programme, which will take place in Katowice from 2 to 6 November. The dates for the participation of the community (Call for issues / Call for proposals) will be announced here in good time; if you would like to receive the announcements directly, please register here for our children's rights newsletter.

  • Published 03.12.19

    Participation and young people's rights were a focus of the Internet Governance Forum 2019

    A week of international professional exchange at the highest level on issues of Internet governance ended on Friday evening with the Closing Ceremony. The topics of child protection and children's rights were discussed more comprehensively than in any of the previous editions of the IGF.

    High Level Panels and a General Comment

    The first part of the meeting was opened by the discussions of the High Level Internet Governance Exchange organised by the German Federal Government on the morning of 25 November. After a speech by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Engery, Peter Altmaier, the three thematic tracks of the IGF 2019 „Data Governance“, „Digital Inclusion“ and „Security, Safety, Stability & Resilience“ were discussed in nine panels with high level participants from governments and the private sector as well as civil society and the technical community in order to develop initial impulses for the programme of the following four days. In the panel "Safety and the Right to Protection", the claim of a safe area of experience for children and young people was raised as a demand based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child for a good upbringing with media was discussed more in-depth in the afternoon in the workshop „Children’s Rights - a Case for Internet Governance“ (Pre-Event 18) organised by the British 5Rights Foundation. Around one hundred participants were informed about the status of work on a General Comment on the UN-CRC with a focus on children's rights in the digital environment. The need to re-comprehend children's rights in the light of the digital transformation of society and to exploit the potential of digitisation for the realisation of children's rights were reaffirmed by the panelists and participants.

    Dynamic Coalition and the German Children's Fund

    On Tuesday, the first official day of the Internet Governance Forum, the morning began with the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety's (DC COS) workshop. The discussion focused on the realisation of children's right to play, leisure and cultural participation in accordance with Art. 31 UN-CRC. First, the different business models of online games and the partly aggressive marketing strategies of the providers were presented and the resulting risks of commercial exploitation and excessive use for children were discussed. In addition, potential dangers lie above all in communication and interaction, which are conducted in parallel with play activities. Age classification of games and apps is generally based on their content, which means that neither the risk of inappropriate contacts nor the risk of inappropriate purchases or loot boxes is discernible. Self-regulation as an instrument for effective protection of minors is today widely regarded as a failure, especially with regard to games. Therefore, according to the prevailing opinion, effective regulatory measures are necessary. One demand from the session was that the online games industry must become more transparent with regard to its commercialisation strategies and with regard to what children can encounter in gaming environments.

    Children's right to data protection and privacy was the focus of a workshop on Wednesday morning organised by the German Children's Fund (Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk) in cooperation with Media Monitoring Africa (WS 170). The claim was made that children's rights should be taken into account in all questions of Internet governance. At the same time, children must be informed about their rights and actively demand their realisation themselves. The teaching of media literacy in schools and responsible action by the platform providers were named as essential building blocks.

    Four Workshops in one day

    On Thursday, the topic was continuously on the agenda with four workshops from 9.30 am to 6.10 pm. The first session was about measures against hate speech (WS 150). Here, too, regulation - such as the German Network Enforcement Act - was mentioned as an important instrument alongside media literacy for children and adults. Platform providers should further develop their measures against Hate Speech with their users, legislators should exchange information on legal framework conditions in their countries worldwide.

    The results of the Global Kids Online studies were presented immediately afterwards (WS 137). Results from surveys based on the same methodology worldwide are an important prerequisite for developing measures for the protection of children and young people and for implementing these measures with globally active platform providers, according to the speakers.

    Cyberbullying was the focus of a session organised by UNICEF China and the Chinese Association of the Internet Society (WS 95). This session dealt with a phenomenon resulting mainly from the increasing interaction and communication of children and adolescents on the Internet. Due to the persistence of Internet content and the increasing mobile use of the Internet, which takes place in the area of children's personal privacy, cyberbullying can have considerable consequences for personality development. However, the number of children and adolescents having such negative experiences is still low and, according to current scientific studies, is in the range of less than 10 percent. The promotion of media literacy and moderated communication spaces can make a significant contribution to reducing the risk. From a child rights perspective, balanced measures that do not restrict children's civil rights are necessary. The monitoring of children and adolescents should not be regarded as an adequate means, was the unanimous demand in the workshop.

    A further workshop organised by the DKHW (WS 23) dealt with the participation of children and young people and their ability to protect themselves. Here it was suggested to consider the rights of children when designing offers and services. The cooperation of civil society actors was also considered important in order to create a lobby for children's rights. One should not wait for politics and business to take the lead on this issue, but rather for children and young people themselves to become active and demand the realisation of their rights.

    Human rights in focus

    In view of the threat of fragmentation of the Internet and the still considerable differences in access and use options, it is not surprising that human rights were the focus of many of the IGF's debates - not only in the sessions dealing with children and young people and their rights.

    In her opening speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of a free and open Internet and at the same time pointed out that the right to freedom of expression must only go as far as it does not endanger the safety of others - especially children. This thought-provoking impulse has obviously fallen on fertile ground, it can be found in many reports from the sessions of the IGF 2019.

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