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  • Published 10.06.24

    EuroDIG: Children's rights & more

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    The next European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) will take place from 17 to 19 June in Vilnius (Lithuania) and will realised hybrid. Under the motto ‘Balancing innovation and regulation’, representatives from politics, business, civil society and science will discuss current developments and trends. Also the participants come together to network at the conference. In addition to a variety of topics relating to shaping the digital environment, this year's EuroDIG will also offer and organise formats that directly address children's rights or make indirect references to the interests and needs of children and young people. Below is a quick overview of this content. The complete EuroDIG programme can be found here.

    Monday, 17 June

    Tuesday, 18 June

    Wednesday, 19 June

    All times are listed in Vilnius (Lithuania) local time. An uncomplicated conversion to your local time can be done here.

    Registration is required for participation in the conference. For virtual participation, this is still possible here until the end of the event.

  • Published 05.06.24

    KidD starts work

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    Since 5 June, the Federal Office for the Enforcement of Children's Rights in Digital Services (KidD) has been available online at www.kidd.bund.de. At the Federal Agency for Child and Youth Protection in the Media, it is committed to the safe use of online services that are important for children and young people. To this end, the organisation reviews whether the precautionary measures and settings offered by the providers are effective in enabling young people to have a safe experience in the digital environment. If KidD comes to the conclusion that providers are not taking sufficient precautions, the Federal Office will advise them and request that they improve them. If the providers do not comply, the Federal Office for the Enforcement of Children's Rights in Digital Services can impose fines on them.

    The establishment of KidD is legitimised by Section 12 (2) of the German Digital Services Act (DDG) and is part of the national implementation of the European Digital Services Act (DSA) in Germany. Together with the bodies designated for media law provisions of the federal states and the Federal Network Agency, it is responsible for the supervision of providers in accordance with the DSA. Complaints on infringements of the Digital Services Act can be submitted directly to the German supervisory authority here.

  • Published 03.06.24

    Children's rights and digital policy

    Jutta Croll, SDC, SDC

    Looking back at the last week in May, we can see that children's rights have now also made it onto the programme of the most important digital policy conferences at national and international level.

    The re:publica took place in Berlin from 27 to 29 May. Thousands of people from all over the world gathered at the event location ”Station”, while young people between the ages of 13 and 25 were invited to take part in TINCON. In 2024, both events once again lived up to their claim of combining a thematically diverse and high-level programme with the colourful flair of a festival. ‘Anyone interested in a digital future worth living will meet at re:publica,’ explains Andreas Gebhardt, founder and Managing Director of re:publica GmbH, who is delighted that 30,000 people attended the 18th edition of the event, which was sold out for the first time.

    The programme, which comprised more than 880 sessions with 1,600 speakers and performers from 60 countries, reflected a broad spectrum of digital policy topics and other aspects such as crises and wars in Europe, social upheavals and the upcoming European elections, sustainability, gender equality and social entrepreneurship. Even though the topic of digital youth culture was located at the Teen Internet Conference TINCON, aspects related to children and young people played a role at re:publica. Sara Flieder kicked things off on Monday evening with the session ‘I know everything about your child’-Why momfluencing jeopardises children's rights’. The young mother, who quickly gained over 50,000 supporters in 2023 for her petition to protect children's rights online, explained how children's rights are regularly disregarded and violated in sharenting, kid- and mumfluencing. She is calling for legal regulation and has already gained attention, at least among the state media authorities, as a discussion at watchdog #24 on 13 May in Hanover showed.

    Following on from the EU Commission's draft regulation on preventing and combating child sexual abuse online, which is currently being discussed in parliamentary proceedings, the session ‘Chat control’ - Same same, but different, but still the same? with Thuy Nga Trinh and Alvar Freude critically discussed analysis tools voluntarily used by platform operators. Under the guise of youth protection, they argued, users' communications are being analysed on a massive scale and without any legal basis.

    Tim Pfeilschifter called for more regulation of the games industry on Wednesday in the session Lootbox? No, thank you! Gaming is better without hidden gambling. Loot boxes can now be found in a large number of (supposedly free) games. They tempt players to spend money (from small amounts to substantial sums). In 2023, around 20 billion US dollars were generated in this way. Loot boxes are not subject to the gambling ban in Germany. This is due to the fact that it is not possible to win or earn money with a loot box. Nevertheless, there are a number of platforms on which the features or accessories acquired or won via loot boxes can be sold and thus monetised. In Germany, the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) has reacted as a result of the amendment to the Youth Protection Act, which came into force in 2021, and includes loot boxes in the age rating of games. There are no clear legal regulations banning loot boxes in Germany to date, but these would be necessary, according to Pfeilschifter.


    Parallel to re:publica, the global web community gathered at the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva from 27 to 31 May to reflect on the progress made in digital policy 20 years after the first summit, which took place in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, and to take a look into the future. The Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Global Digital Compact, which is currently being negotiated, formed the framework for the programme. Inclusion, gender equality and digital well-being were also addressed, as were artificial intelligence, education and training for the acquisition of media skills, combating the shortage of skilled labour force and economic damage caused by misinformation. The participants also addressed human rights and the rights and protection of children and young people. The session Children and Youth as Stakeholders in the Metaverse discussed the competences and skills that young people will need in order to navigate safely and responsibly in future virtual environments. The focus was on participation and well-being as well as protecting children from assaults such as cyberbullying and sexual violence. The study ‘Why Children are Unsafe in Cyberspace’, which was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in 24 countries in 2021, was presented and the need for action resulting from the potential risk was highlighted. According to the participants, the aim is to protect children's rights and not to exclude young people, but to empower them to deal with potential dangers and crises and to grow from them.

    The debates initiated in Berlin and Geneva will be continued at regional platforms such as the European Dialogue on Internet Governance - EuroDIG from 17 to 19 June in Vilnius (Lithuania) and the global Internet Governance Forum from 15 to 19 December 2024 in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

  • Published 28.05.24

    "Babyphotos klick well"

    Torsten Krause, SDC

    Under the heading ‘Online advertising - between opportunities, law and responsibility’, the 24th edition of the watchdog format of the state media authorities in mid-May also dealt with family influencing and the question of how digital content with children should be realised or better refrained from. The Director of the Bremen State Media Authority, Cornelia Holsten, pointed out that today's generation of parents had already grown up with devices and social media and therefore had a high affinity for the digital environment and the sharing of (personal) information. As a result, an average of around 1,500 images of each child up to the age of five can be found online, as parents show their joy and pride to the community. However, the problem is that these images are usually distributed without the children's consent and the large amount of information can also pose risks. For example, Sara Flieder vividly reported that she knew the name and birthday of a girl in her neighbourhood, as well as which ice cream shop she preferred in the district and much more, although she did not know the child or her parents offline. This experience led her to campaign for the protection of children's rights in the digital environment by means of a petition.

    With the petition ‘Protecting children's rights on Instagram’ which has already been signed by over 54,000 people and handed over to Ekin Deligöz, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Sara Flieder is calling for a legal regulation for commercially active influencers. They should be prohibited from depicting children unclothed or in compromising situations, publishing sensitive information such as names and places of residence, or using children for advertising purposes. Cornelia Holsten is very much in favour of this view. She can rely on the position of the Media Council of the Bremen State Media Authority. It has been calling for a voluntary commitment in the area of influencing since 2021. According to this, no images of the faces of children under the age of three should be used in influencer marketing, the names of children should not be disclosed and no images of children's bedrooms should be published.

    Both Holsten and Flieder were not yet satisfied with what had been achieved. They criticised the fact that children's rights were ‘not high up on the political agenda’ and that ‘baby photos click well’. Nevertheless, discussions on how children's rights can be safeguarded in the context of family influencing are taking place at European level without much media attention. Belgium recently organised a conference in Brussels as part of its Council Presidency. We reported on this in our article Children's Rights, Sharenting & Kidfluencing. The conversation between Cornelia Holsten, Sara Flieder and watchdog presenter Geraldine de Bastion can be viewed here (from 01:01:30, discussion in German).

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