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EU Agency ENISA launches report on Cyber-bullying & online grooming: 18 protective recommendations against key risks


08 Nov 2011


Justice & Home Affairs

The EU Agency ENISA, the (European Network and Information Security Agency) has launched a report on cyber bullying and online grooming (preparing sexual abuse); warning that misuse of data (data mining and profiling) harms minors. The report identifies the top emerging risks and makes 18 non-technical recommendations for their mitigation. One key recommendation is to strengthen Member State’s law enforcement agencies. Other recommendations point to safeguards adapted to the needs of youth’s cyber activities.

Digital devices and the internet now play a significant role in children’s lives. Today’s young people live their online lives in both private and educational settings. This is an environment radically different from that of their parents, in their childhoods. Risks in a child’s online environment can be detrimental to their physical activities and social skills, argues the ENISA Expert Group on Internet risks.

The Executive Director of ENISA, Prof. Udo Helmbrecht comments: “Our children run the risk of becoming victims of online grooming and cyber bullying; therefore actions are needed to protect teenagers’ cyber activities”.

The report details a scenario of 13-year old Kristie’s changed behaviour, poor grades and negative attitudes due to abuse in her online life. Many parents lose control, as they lack knowledge and tools to support their children, the report argues. The Agency thus issues 18 recommendations to mitigate identified risks. Among the key recommendations are:

Strengthening of law enforcement agencies by the Member States: additional knowledge and resources is important. This additional strength is needed to properly cover regulatory issues, statistical data collection of misuse cases, and follow up on privacy breaches.

Civil society and social partners need knowledge sources regarding the use of Internet and online services. Furthermore, sponsored online campaigns to prevent grooming/cyber bullying should take place in social networks.

Parents/guardians/educators need better technological skills to overcome the knowledge gap between adults and teenagers. 

For teenagers, the mitigation measures for the identified risks include:

• Use of specialised teenager security settings, and adaptation of existing ones to teenager needs

• Privacy impact assessment for applications processing teenager’s data

• Development of mechanisms to allow deactivation of all active (online) components

• Age oriented access control mechanisms

• Among the top risks for teenagers, out of a total of 13 identified, are: suffering serious loss of physical or mental health; irreversibly exposing important personal information online; discrimination based on your online behaviour, and misuse of personal data.

For full report, including all risks and recommendations to different target audiences.

For interviews or further details: Ulf Bergstrom, Spokesman, ENISA,, Mobile: + 30 6948 460 143 or Louis Marinos, Expert,