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A safer internet for children


23 Oct 2008


Justice & Home Affairs
Social Europe & Jobs

Children and teenagers are keen internet users - 12 to 15-year-olds spend at least three hours a day on screen - but are not always aware of the dangers: not just sites showing child pornography or violence but also the risk of bullying or grooming. MEPs adopted a report on a proposal to ensure better protection for children against these dangers where it backed the latest "Safer Internet" programme for 2009 -2013 whose budget is some €55 million.
The proposal seeks to introduce a new "Safer Internet" programme to run from 2009 to 2013, following on from the success of the current programme (2005-2008). The aim is to anticipate discernable trends in the online environment.  With a budget of €55 million, the programme will combat illegal content, promote a safer online environment, raise public awareness and establish a "knowledge base" for research purposes.  Parliament is working on this legislation in co-decision with the Council of Ministers.
The programme will provide for:
-           national contact points for reporting illegal content and harmful conduct;
-           involvement of children and young people in initiatives to create a safer online environment;
-           greater public awareness (information campaigns, exchange of best practice);
-           a knowledge base, bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online.
The report drafted by Roberta Angelilli (UEN, IT), supports the Commission proposal with a number of amendments including greater emphasis on combating new developments such as the electronic harassment and psychological manipulation of children and the showing of physical and/or psychological aggression. The House says that setting up a common "child-safe" label for webpages, as well as information packages for teachers, carers and parents.
MEPs also say hotlines should be available for reporting illegal online content, and filters should be set up to prevent offending content from passing through on-line technologies. In addition, they wish to facilitate information exchange between Member States, since illegal content can be uploaded in one country and viewed in another.
The report was adopted with 672 votes in favour, 9 against and 19 abstentions.


Baptiste CHATAIN

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