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Policy Influences and Country Clusters

by Brian O'Neill, EU Kids Online network

The report "Policy influences and Country Clusters" from June 2014 by the network EU Kids Online presents an analysis of cross-national differences in European internet safety implementation. It draws from diverse sources and employs both a 'top-down' and ‘bottom-up’ approach to assess:

  1. If governance of internet safety in European countries coincides with the same or similar patterns of online opportunities, risks, and experience of harm;
  2. If policy actions or initiatives within European countries are associated with particular patterns of online opportunities, risks, and experience of harm;
  3. In light of the above, where and how should policy makers intervene to support a better internet for children.

Internet safety, especially for children and young people, is an important policy priority in all European countries. Yet, how it is implemented is subject to considerable variation. Just as young people's experiences of online risks present a quite varied landscape across Europe, so too the diversity of policy responses to promoting internet safety is remarkable. A common European infrastructure does exist, brought about by the creation - with the support of European Union co-funding - of Safer Internet Centres in each country. However, when it comes to the implementation of policy frameworks or implementing particular actions or initiatives, each country chooses its own level of participation, revealing different emphases, priorities and levels of investment.

This report examines the policy context for internet safety within this European landscape. Building on the EU Kids Online country classification of internet risks and safety, this analysis looks to the additional dimension of the policy framework and policy actions initiated within each country. Drawing on data collected for the European Commission as part of its benchmarking study, the aim of this report is to present a preliminary analysis of what works in terms of better internet policy.

Do countries' individual actions make a difference? Are some parts of Europe safer than others because of the actions that governments have taken? Cross-country comparative analysis is itself a complex task and making comparisons across regulatory and policy regimes especially so. In this report, EU Kids Online highlights where policy frameworks and initiatives coincide with particular configurations of internet use, risk and mediation. This is not to suggest a causal link but rather to present further insights into the varying context in which internet safety policy is implemented across different parts of Europe.

Click to download the corresponding pdf-document
(0.6 MB, german language)

Available on the website since June 15, 2014