The 2007 edition of Safer Internet Day focuses on mobile phones and child safety.
Safer Internet Day (SID), which is celebrated for the fourth time on 6 February 2007, brings together a network of partners in 43 countries around the globe. It aims to raise awareness of safety and security issues on the internet, such as child safety and mobile phones. This is the focal point of this year’s SID. In the summer of 2006, the Commission held a consultation on the issue, which stakeholders from civil society and industry attended. More problematic aspects of the way that mobile phones are changing the lifes of children and young people include:
- The emergence of the mobile internet, including web browsers, chat clients and e-mails, which allows for new ways of getting and staying in touch. While this is mostly positive and fosters the emergence of social networks, it can also be abused, such as by sexual predators who want to get in touch with young children.
- Violent images or movies being swapped between mobile-phone owners. These are either downloaded from the internet (trailers of adult movies and so-called snuff movies, in which real or allegedely real murders, executions and scenes of sexual violence are depicted) or produced by youngsters themselves and then passed on in a snowball system (‘happy slapping’ movies, which depict violence against unsuspecting passers-by, lewd images of sexuality and intrusions into other teenagers’ private lives).
- This points to the power of images in the age of omnipresent phonecams and easy transfer of pictures. This development has taken place too fast for conventions and moral codes to keep step, which has led to widespread abuse of the new technologies.
- The development of moral codes, comparable to the ‘netiquette‘ code for the internet, could at least deal with the mass phenomenon of harassment using mobile devices.
- All these issues are closely linked with the issue of privacy in electronic communications or e-privacy. The virtual reality of the internet has already partly replaced material reality. Practices such as ‘mobbing’, harassment and blackmailing are not only technically easier online, but there are also less moral safeguards. The spread of the mobile internet has also resulted in online users, particularly young people, being permanently exposed to spam, spyware and potentially malicious software.