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Children’s use of the Internet

pdf mise en ligne :09 03 2008 ( NEA say… n° 51 )

COOPERATION JUDICIAIRE CIVILE > Ordonnance d'exécution européenne

LIBE Committee: on 29th May 2008 Roberta Angelilli proposed a first change of views about the new protection programme for children who use the Internet.

The growth of computer technology of the last decade has drastically changed our lives; new technologies really improved productivity and efficiency at work, school and home, providing instant access to every kind of information (news, shopping, banking, etc.). Their process involves however not only adults, but also children and teenagers, the main users of the World Wide Web resource, the Internet.

Children and the Internet

The Internet is nowadays an important part of children's environment: on the one hand it provides them opportunities of learning and entertainment, on the other hand it implies the increase of risks for their safety and innocence. The growth of technology comes togheter with the lost of control and with the proliferation of illegal and harmful contents, that victimize and abuse children.

The Internet resource provides a new space, a cyberspace, to find and exploit children, to groom them for criminal purposes such as producing and distributing child pornography, contacting and engaging them in sexual acts.

The emerging violence against children through the use of new technologies is dramatic and serious; it is a growing problem, that asks for a larger control from Institutions.

► "A child's right not to be exploited online", European Parliament Press Service, 15.01.2008 (FR) (EN).
► "How can we protect children from internet hazards?", European Parliament Press Service, 29.11.2006 (FR) (EN).

The answer of EU-Institutions

One of the priority of the Coucil of the European Union in co-decision with the European Parlament in the definition of an EU strategy on the right of the child is to intensify actions against illegal websites and provide protection in order to ensure a children’s safe usage of the Internet.

On the 25th January 1999 the European Parlament and the Council adopted the Safer Internet Action Plan 1999 – 2002 (extended until 2004) to promote safer use of the Internet resource and fight against illegal contents on the net. In May 2005 the European Commision launched a 4-year programme Safer Internet plus programme 2005-2008, adopted by the European Parlament and the Council in the same year. It includes all forms of real-time communication and aimes at promoting a safer enviromnent on global networks and raising awareness in their usage.

On the 27th February 2008 the Commission propesed a new Safer Internet programme: Safer Internet 2009-2013, that will follow the successful line of the Safer Internet plus programme. This new programme will consider not only the illegal content in the Internet, but also harmful conduct such as grooming and bullying. The new Safer Internet programme will now go through a process of co-decision in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The final adoption of the programme is expected in early 2009.

Roberta Angelilli’s suggestions towards the new protection programme for children

On the 29th May 2008 Roberta Angelilli, Member of the European Parlament (UEN, Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs) proposed to the LIBE a first change of views about the new protection programme for children who use the Internet.

Particularly attentive to children’s rights, Roberta Angelilli underlined the importance of an EU intervention aimed at increasing children’s protection on the net.

The Member of the Parliament drew a general picture of the illegal and harmful contents circulating on global networks: child pornography, racism, anorexia, incitement to suicide, insisting on the risk of child grooming, often followed by phisical approaches and sexual abuses.

Against the alarming increase of this kind of phenomenon, called “cybercrime”, Roberta Angelilli proposed a programme addressed both to the children and to the parents and based on information, prevention and awareness of the Internet. It should aim at filling the generation gap between children and parents about the use of new technologies and at involving all the operators of the field in the definition of proper actions against illegal websites.

In the opinion of the Commission the programme should also aim at the creation of an european awareness net and at the conception of technical supports for the police.

The first change of views towards the foreseen adoption of the new programme had as result the focus on its basic principles and on the following expected actions.

► Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child, LIBE Report, Rapporteur: Roberta Angelilli, 21.12.2007 (FR) (EN).

 

► Rights of the child: the European Parliament to set out its strategy, 14-17 January 2008, EP Strasbourg plenary session (FR) (EN).

 

► Washington Post
"Anti-Child-Porn tactic criticized"
"Internet Providers Agree to Block Child Pornography" (11 June 2008)

 

Enza Dammiano

Università degli Studi di Napoli “ L’Orientale”