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Digital Citizenship and Companies' Responsibility

by Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 09.11.12
Source: eigener Bericht

On the last day of the IGF 2012 the debate between young people pleading for their right to freedom of expression and not to be controlled or overprotected and on the other hand stakeholders from the child welfare sector continued in the workshop Citizenship in the digital era - meeting the challenges, empowering children. Digital Citizenship sounds like a new concept but as John Carr put it: Obligation does not change just because we are on the Internet. While empowering young people to cope with risks and threats on the Internet might be a solution for the older ones he stressed that for the younger age group protection must be in place, the concept of teaching digital literacy has to be reconsidered and respective approaches need to be designed. In Britain f. e. about 30 % of 3 to 4 year old children are using a digital device like an iPad or a smart phone as recent research revealed. One could not expect these young children to be able to understand the consequences their activities online might have.

What role industry can play was on the agenda in the next workshop An industry lead approach for making internet a better place for kids Janice Richardson as a moderator on behalf of the European Commission explained that changing the name of the Programme from "Safer Internet" to "Making the Internet a better place for kids" also new aspects have come into focus like positive content for children. Industry has been working in the CEO Coalition for now more than a year trying hard to contribute their share for a better Internet for children. In the Coalition one working group dealt with parental control tools while others took care of effective take down of child abuse images, age appropriate privacy settings, reporting tools and content classification. The Panelists were confronted again with the rejection of parental controls by representatives from the youth panels, but held against with their arguments. So declared Cornelia Kutterer from Microsoft We will take children's rights and also freedom of expression into account, but as a parent of three children myself I preserve my right to educate my kids and to decide what is appropriate for them. She asked for more involvement of parents in the debate and Sevinj Muradova from the Ministry of Economic Development in Azerbaijan backed her up and called for work with parents, teachers, communities and social work.

Veronica Donoso, here representing the EUkidsonline network asked for more research and evaluation of the measures that are undertaken to protect and to empower children while Peter Matjasic from the European Youth Forum asked for full transparency, simple terms of use, support of the users and strong media literacy. This was answered by Richard Allan from facebook who clearly declared that their task as industry is to innovate the services and to find rapid solutions. Eventually panellist were ready to agree with John Carr that for example restricted access to adult content do cause users only minor inconveniences which is an acceptable price to pay for the protection of younger children.

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