Joint answer given by Ms Kroes on behalf of the Commission Written questions : E-008987/11 , E-009251/11
Internet brings children and young people great opportunities. However, the Commission agrees that children also face risks online, related to viewing harmful content and to online contacts. The circulation of illegal content online, in particular child abuse images, is also a major issue, although there is no evidence that children themselves view this content. Under the Digital Agenda for Europe(1) the Commission is strongly committed to protecting and empowering children online.
There is existing legislation addressing this issue, namely the Audiovisual Media Services Directive(2), the communication on media literacy(3), and the recommendations on protection of minors(4). The recent Commission report(5) analyses the implementation of the recommendations and where further work is needed. A directive on combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography covering online child sexual abuse material and grooming was adopted on 15 November 2011(6).
The Commission also provides financial support for awareness raising and development of tools for fighting illegal content online through the Safer Internet Programme(7) and has brokered self-regulatory agreements signed by major players in Europe such as video games providers, social networking sites and mobile operators(8).
In the light of the increasing and changing use of the Internet by children of all ages, the Commission has recently called on a coalition of Chief Executive Officers from the whole ICT Industry to step up their efforts and will present in the coming months a comprehensive initiative to empower and protect children online.
Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive), OJ L 95, 15.4.2010.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment, COM(2007)833, OJ C 140, 6.6.2008.
Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and online information services industry, OJ L 378, 27.12.2006.
The ‘Safer social networking principles for the EU’ signed by social networking sites providers, http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/social_networking/docs/sn_principles.pdf; the ‘European framework for the safer use of mobile phones by younger children and teenagers’, http://www.gsmeurope.org/safer_mobile/index.shtml; PEGI, http://www.pegi.info/en/ and PEGI Online, http://www.pegionline.eu/en/ implemented by game providers.