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EC Forms Online Child Protection Coalition

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The EC has formed a coalition of 28 leading tech and media companies to improve children’s online safety

The European Commission has announced a coalition of 28 of the world’s largest tech and media companies with the intention of making the internet safer place for children.

The coalition is styled as a voluntary intervention that hopes its solutions will be embraced by other companies with new members accepted to join at any time.

Statement of Purpose

Members of the coalition range from tech companies such as Apple and Samsung, to networks such as Vodafone and Orange and content producers such as BskyB and Dailymotion.

The companies operate in all EU member states and have agreed a statement of purpose to implement wider options for parental control as children go online at an increasingly young age.

This statement calls for simple and robust reporting tools which will can be found easily on all devices and enable an effective reporting system for content which seems harmful for children.

Age-appropriate privacy settings such as how widely information is made available have also been called for, as has a wider use of content classification to provide parents with understandable age categories.

The coalition also wants to increase the availability of parental controls and implement an effective system for taking down child abuse material.

Digital Agenda

“This new Coalition should provide both children and parents with transparent and consistent protection tools to make the most of the online world,” said EC vice president Neelie Kroes. “The founding Coalition members are already leaders in children’s safety online. Working together we will be setting the pace for the whole industry and have a great basis for fully empowering children online.”

The commission says that keeping children safe online is a priority of the Digital Agenda for Europe. According to the EC, on average, children start going online when they are seven and 38 percent say they have a social networking profile despite age restrictions.

Facebook has said that it wants to be able to get under 13’s onto the social network, despite repeated calls for it to implement a panic button on its website.

ISPs have strengthened their measures to protect children online while the UK government has launched a campaign to introduce a digital code for online safety.

One of the members of the coalition, Vodafone has launched its Vodafone Guardian app to help parents manage their children’s use of smartphones with the EC stating that 30 percent of 9-12 year olds go online via a mobile device.