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Online Anonymity, Freedom of Expression and the Rights of the Child

by Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 24.10.13
Source: eigener Bericht

Panel des Jugend IGF 2013

Internet Governance Forum in Bali

Peak time for topics related to children's and youths Internet usage on the third day of the IGF 2013

The ITU and UNICEF started the day with a joint open session referring to the ITU's Child Online Protection Initiative . The COP pursues the following key objectives:

Young people themselves had their voice in the Youth IGF session dealing with anonymity online where they presented the results from a worldwide survey with 1.382 respondents regards this topic. Being Anonymous is depending on the relationship, they pointed out. You might be anonymous to other users in a forum, but you are probably not to the moderator. Therefore a kind of false sense of anonymity was seen as a threat. But it was also argued that anonymity on the Internet might remove some of social and moral norms although it should not be misused as a means to avoid accountability and consequences of sharing. Seeing the other side of the coin anonymity can be a huge advantage for people. Here the discussion referred to Facebook who have recently changed the privacy settings for new users under eighteen to 'friends only' by default but with the option to switch it to public and share more broadly. Upon their first Public post, teens will see an educational reminder, saying 'Did you know that public posts can be seen by anyone, not just people you know?' These new privacy settings were commented by Nicola Douglas from the Youth IGF as follows: I think part of freedom of expression is that you can choose your audience. A point that was picked up afterwards also in a session where a potential conflict between Child Protection and Child Rights was discussed. To the opinion of Larry Magid, director of ConnectSafely.org, the option to post and share publicly on facebook pays directly into the right of young people to freedom of expression as it is laid down in Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Another meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety, where Stiftung Digitale Chancen is one of the founding members, took place in the afternoon. Here the fight against Child Sexual Abuse Material - CSAM was in the focus. It was stated by the panelists amongst other things that the exchange of experiences and the development of global strategies to fight such content suffers somehow from confusion about the correct terms. While some people are talking about criminal content others call it illegal content, some refer to CSAM while others talk about child pornography. Reacting to that situation the Dynamic Coalition announced to present a dictionary or lexicon on definitions on the topic.

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