The European Commission has issued a report reviewing how Member States are implementing EU Recommendations ensuring that children can enjoy the digital world confidently and safely, finding that measures taken so far have been insufficient overall.
On 13 September 2011 the Commission adopted a Report, ‘Protecting Children in the Digital World’, analysing the implementation by Member States of the 1998 and 2006 EU Recommendations on the protection of minors in the digital world.
The Commission noted that since the last evaluation report, changes in consumers’ and particularly minors’ use of media have been dramatic. New developments such as on-demand media services and social networking sites are bringing challenges regarding the protection of minors. As such, the Commission felt it was necessary to ask whether current policies are still suitable and adequate to ensure a high level of protection for minors throughout Europe.
In the press release announcing the report, the Commission stated, “In concrete terms, the report shows that EU countries are not responding adequately, or have varying approaches to tackling and reporting illegal or harmful content, ensuring children access age-appropriate content, making social networks safer for children and protecting children from harmful video games”. The report suggests several actions to be taken in areas such as:
- harmful and illegal content, including improving infrastructures to facilitate the removal of illegal content;
- social networking and privacy in order to increase awareness of the risks and how to mitigate them; and
- wider usage of the age classification and rating systems and the development of an age classification code of conduct.
The Commission also published an accompanying Staff Working Paper providing more detailed information on the survey response and on specific examples of the measures taken. Examples of measures already taken in response to the risks involved in social networks include, Austria offering teachers handbooks concerning safe and responsible use of social networking sites and, in Luxembourg, public funding support for projects where young people themselves create social networks.