Commission battles to protect children online

Report points to successes of “Safer Internet Action Plan” but concern levels still high.

An independent evaluation has found the “Safer Internet Action Plan” very effective in tackling the problem of illegal and harmful internet content. The four-year programme (2005–08) aims to promote the safer use of the Internet and new online technologies, particularly for children. Among the main successes highlighted include the setting up of 21 national hotlines to report illegal internet content, and the creation of 23 national awareness nodes to promote safer internet use by children, parents and teachers.

High level of concern over the issue is confirmed by the 534,000 reports received by the hotlines in 2005 alone.  Moreover, according to Eurobarometer, 18% of European parents of children aged 17 and younger say their child has encountered harmful or illegal content online. The Commission believes that more support is needed from member states to promote awareness of the hotlines among end-users and to promote better cooperation between hotlines and stakeholders such as the police and internet service providers.

Viviane Reding, commissioner for information society and media said: “For many years the Safer Internet programme has been successfully promoting safer use of internet and other online technologies, particularly by children, and fighting illegal and harmful content ranging from child pornography to racism.”

The Commission said that it would take the report’s recommendations on board for the 2007-2008 implementation of the programme.

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