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Procedure : 2012/2068(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0353/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0353/2012

Debates :

PV 19/11/2012 - 23
CRE 19/11/2012 - 23

Votes :

PV 20/11/2012 - 6.17
CRE 20/11/2012 - 6.17
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0428

Debates
Monday, 19 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

23. Protecting children in the digital world (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is a short presentation of the report (A7-0353/2012) by Silvia Costa on protecting children in the digital world [2012/2068(INI)].

 
  
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  Silvia Costa, rapporteur. − (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, 23 years after the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the internet is becoming the new frontier at which the rights of minors have to be protected and promoted, given the growing penetration of the internet among children and adolescents in Europe – a kind of symbiotic relationship which helps to form their personalities and the way in which they relate to the outside world.

A few years ago, the average age at which children had their first access to the internet was around 9 years old, but today, the first steps on the web, for those born in the digital age, are being taken even before they learn to read or write. Young people under 16 use computers for study, play, watching video clips, downloading videos and music, file sharing, and for visiting chat rooms, blogs and virtual worlds. However, the majority of children between the ages of 9 and 16 have their profile registered on a social network, many using a fictitious identity, and a quarter of adolescents declare an older age than their real one. Twelve per cent of those in the 9 to 16 age group report that they have been harassed, in particular by being bullied (40 %) and by content and approaches of a sexual nature (25 %).

Therefore, opportunities and threats coexist on the internet; nowadays the internet is indispensable for the integration of children from a social, educational and work point of view, but the European institutions and the Member States must do their utmost to ensure that minors are guaranteed the conditions they need for their education and to keep themselves informed, the rules required for safe navigation, and that providers, business and educators are made aware of their responsibilities. The report proposes a holistic approach in respect of the promotion and protection of the rights of children online.

Exchanges with the various political groups in the Committee on Culture and Education and the shadow rapporteurs – whom I would like to thank – allowed us to arrive at a compromise text which was highly satisfactory even though it deals with a topic about which there are different sensibilities and trends. The work carried out with the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and its rapporteur, Ms Hedh, made a significant contribution. The report welcomes and incorporates – with precise recommendations – the recent communication from the Commission for a better internet for children.

It was our aim to strike a balance between the fundamental rights of the child in the digital world, the right to access to education, the right to protection and the right to digital citizenship, in a new system of governance which puts at its heart, as paramount, the interests of the child, as a person undergoing education and as a European citizen, on the basis of Article 24 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty.

Where governance is concerned, we call on the Commission to mainstream children’s rights across all the policies of the European Union that refer to the internet, to continue to finance specific programmes such as the Safer Internet Programme on the basis of a report and monitoring, and to take appropriate measures, through the internet among other things, which make it possible to coordinate the implementation of codes of conduct and the CEO coalition initiative. In addition, we support the Commission’s proposal to take legislative action if the adoption of the current codes of self-regulation should fail.

As regards safe and untroubled access to internet use, we propose taking measures for an educational alliance among families, schools, associations and those involved in media and audiovisual services, to integrate these skills in school curricula and to train trainers and adults; vigilance in respect of the online marketing and publicising of harmful substances; an exchange of good practice in the role of informal education by the dissemination among adolescents of positive and good practices on the internet; the access of minors to safe and high-quality pluralistic digital content in educational programmes and services and, in particular, in the public service media.

As regards the right to protection, the report makes a clear distinction between illegal content and unsuitable and dangerous content. For the dangerous and unsuitable material, we call for action to protect identity and privacy; to prevent excessively early contact with sexuality, grooming and improper behaviour – including that towards other minors, such as online bullying and sexting. Furthermore, we call on the Commission to maintain the initiative for classifying unsuitable content and, in general, for all the technical innovations that guide parents and children; we support the proposal from Ms Reding on the protection of personal data, privacy, the right to be forgotten, with specific measures for minors, and with mandatory parental consent for the processing of their data.

As regards illegal content, however, there must be tools which are effective in dealing with online crimes such as grooming, and we would repeat that such crimes are of a cross-border nature and so stronger international cooperation is required in dealing with computer crime and in supporting hotlines. Finally, we would encourage – and we call on the Commission to encourage – the Member States to give whatever support they can to digital citizenship, which is crucial for the development of an intelligent and inclusive Union and civic participation, including that on the internet, by minors.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Mr President, our children are living, connecting, surfing, learning and communicating over the internet. This is a great opportunity and we have to stand up for their freedom. But at the same time, they are very exposed to risks such as grooming, mobbing, violence and pornography, and they are vulnerable consumers. That is why I very much welcome the comprehensive and deep approach to dealing with protection of children on the internet taken by Silvia Costa, the rapporteur, and welcome the fact that my points, which deal with the industry’s shared responsibility and the value of self-regulation, as well as the importance of moderate and responsible advertising, have been included, and I hope they will be supported.

I have also put forward points on consent for children for the regulation on data protection which we are discussing. Children do not have the same ability to understand and they need an easy and child-friendly language from the industry …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE).(GA) Mr President, thank you for giving me the chance to speak about this important issue of children in the digital world.

In Ireland, we unfortunately have become all too aware of the terrible repercussions due to several tragic incidents following bullying on social networking sites. The report recognises the risk posed by the internet in terms of online intimidation and bullying. I fully support the recommendations contained in the report which call for an education alliance among families, schools and civil society to protect children on the internet.

I also support the need for greater awareness-raising initiatives aimed at parents and schools. It is also necessary to introduce the proper mechanisms at school level to support those who have been affected by online bullying. It is vital that we continue to train and educate both parents and teachers to keep them up to speed with new technologies, social networking sites and, crucially now, the young people who use them.

 
  
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  Amelia Andersdotter (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, we are again discussing the protection of children in the online environment and again it is painfully obvious that we barely know what we are dealing with. EU-sponsored research, for instance, shows that children normally do not perceive grooming as a problem to be solved and I think it would be good if, in our actions to censor or filter the internet, we stick to known facts.

This might have been a good opportunity for Parliament to criticise the fact that private parties are increasingly taking responsibility for what can and cannot be broadcast to users online. Instead, the report endorses private regulation of what can be broadcast in terms of freedom of speech. But private companies are not constitutional courts and they cannot determine what constitutes a legitimate method for making a political speech.

Therefore, I will vote against this report which does not in my opinion balance the rights of children to determine what they communicate.

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR).(PL) Mr President, let me take up what the last speaker said, since she is obviously right that, in every area of life, we are faced with a certain conflict between freedom and security. In voting on the report by Ms Costa, whose work in the Committee on Culture and Education I greatly appreciate, we have to make just such a choice between freedom and security, between freedom to search the internet, freedom of movement in the digital world, and the safety of our children. It is not an easy choice. I understand the last speaker, because she is clearly conscious of the danger, but our duty is to warn or protect children in the Member States of the European Union against the threats of which Ms Costa speaks: against sexual abuse, against the loss of self in a virtual world, against addiction to that world. For that reason, I think the report deserves support.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am in favour of the text of Ms Costa’s report on protecting children in the digital world, given that the percentage of young people online is constantly growing. I think that it is imperative to protect minors from websites with harmful content with strong elements of violence, racism and discrimination. Moreover, we must not underestimate the presence of child pornography websites, which can put at risk the lives of the very youngest, and of people who try to lure minors.

It is for schools to train minors in the practical and critical use of the digital technology associated with the internet. Training allows young people to master digital skills, which have been recognised as among the eight key competences required for those living in a knowledge-based society. With schools, society shares this responsibility, aware as it is of the social and economic advantages of critical, active and safe use of digital media by minors, as opposed to use leading to dependence …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, as a father of several children in this critical age group, I am naturally aware of the opportunities, but also the dangers, that the internet, social media, the digital world present to young people and children. On the one hand, we need, of course, to appreciate that this is a completely new form of communication available to the new generation right from the start, but, on the other hand, we really must take a critical approach to the dangers. We must not forget that young people are often living in an unreal world here, that communication operates on the most trivial level and that children are often at risk of developing a kind of addictive behaviour. There is abuse, of course, bullying and all manner of other dangers. I therefore believe there is a real need for something like self-policing by the providers, and perhaps something like age restrictions or restrictions on the amount of data one can download. We must urge those in a position of responsibility, primarily parents, to be really vigilant here. Protecting our youth is a special kind of consumer safeguard and we owe it to our children …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Ms Costa’s report is excellent and continues the work carried out with the directive on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography online, for which I was the rapporteur. The top priority, in my view, is to bridge the technological generation gap between adults who, in some cases, struggle to send a mobile phone text and children who were born in the technological age – in other words, use that is more conscious, responsible and safe, shared with adults: teachers, educationalists, etc.

Finally, it is useful to overcome the fragmentation of the legislative provisions for protecting minors in the digital world and to address the cultural and judicial differences that exist between the Member States.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D).(DE) Mr President, since the internet is now a ‘second living room’ for many children and young people, a central plank of our policy must be their protection. Accordingly, this report should be seen as a significant step forward, because it sets out the essential issues and proposes solutions that, by and large, make sense.

To my mind, point 24 of the report is especially important. This says that any such measures should be fully compatible with the rule of law and with legal certainty, take account of the rights of end-users, and comply with existing legal and judicial procedures, as well as with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Specifically now, when we see all the time that measures taken by the industry are voluntary, we MEPs must keep working to ensure that these voluntary measures do not mean that the proper legislative process is circumvented. Self-administered justice is always problematical, and it is in this case too.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, the need to protect children is a no-brainer to me in our society. Protecting children in the digital world is part of that. However, whilst we owe it to our children to protect them, I would like to make the point that parents too have a responsibility here.

How are parents, who had very little education in matters digital during their own childhood, now to tell their children what is right and proper? Perhaps they need to educate themselves a little more on the subject, and perhaps we should tell the older generation how things might be improved. For example, I think it is totally irresponsible and inappropriate to allow a nine-year-old child to spend 88 minutes a day online. The internet means educating ourselves and acting responsibly at home and at school.

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR).(CS) Mr President, I would like to express my support for this report from my own point of view. The internet has become an inseparable part of our everyday lives, and unfortunately that is also the case for our children. Although practical measures have already been adopted, in 1998 and 2006, for the protection of minors online, children are still exposed to various risks. These risks often bring with them not only physical harm to children but also significant financial consequences for their parents. Statistics clearly show that children who go online easily become victims – first and foremost of sexual assault, bullying, or commercial or other misuse of their profiles.

It is shocking how some firms unhesitatingly exploit the ignorance and inexperience of these minors for their own profit and commercial ends. Children often do not recognise what is an advert and what is part of the content of the web page itself. In the context of advertising online quizzes and games, then children …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD).(SK) Mr President, the digital world brings broad new possibilities for communication and is naturally also open to children and young people. Small children see their parents working with computers at home; better-equipped schools offer older children additional practical classes or education online. Through the internet, children can get to meet and communicate with people of their own age, not only in their own towns, but practically all over the world. For the younger generation, internet culture cannot be avoided. Therefore, we must attempt to shape rules for operating internet portals, so that the virtual world our children enter is civilised, decent, interesting, entertaining and inspiring. These resources are difficult to control, but if we keep taking an active approach to modelling the digital world and can manage to eliminate the risks that arise, we may create an effective, rich tool for the personal development of the coming generation.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, we used to be able, when a child was teased at school, to say ‘do not worry, it will all be forgotten about tomorrow’. In today’s digital world, it is no longer as simple as that. It is hard for someone who is bullied on the internet, and especially on social networks, to ignore that. It draws a wider audience and usually stays stored online forever. This bullying is an extension of real-life bullying and intensifies the phenomenon. Greater parental awareness and guidance are needed to teach young people how to deal responsibly with the digital world.

Responsibility for protecting minors against cybercrime should lie with the authorities. It is important, and makes sense, to cooperate at European level on this because the internet knows no frontiers.

 
  
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  Kinga Gál (PPE).(HU) Mr President, an expert on the digital world once explained to me at Parliament that letting children into the world of the internet without proper protection is like putting a small child in the middle of the busiest motorway and not giving them any help to reach the hard shoulder. I think, as a mother too, that the desire to do something that is now characterising the Union is very important, and so this report is very important too, since there is an ever-greater need for all of this, but also for Member States to link it with comprehensive legal, technical and educational measures. This is because education, I must emphasise, does not mean only educating our children in this area so that they know the five most important ‘smart’ rules of using the internet, but also disseminating information materials among parents, teachers and education workers. In order for them to understand the dangers, parents, teachers …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Ms Costa’s fine report properly tackles the broad range of topics covered by the rights of minors in this sector. However, I believe it is both important and useful to emphasise certain points that she has outlined to us. The first is to focus again on the rights in particular of children and minors, always and come what may, because nowadays they are among those who are most exposed, most at risk, in the whole system of European society and modern society in general.

The second is to follow through across all policies: these topics and rights must be brought up again every time the Union makes amendments to any measure, without ever overlooking them or considering them to be marginal. The third aspect is that of training, and particularly of training the trainers: adults have an important role in guiding and supporting the activities of their children.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, the internet is undoubtedly a wonderful thing and it has brought with it many advantages, particularly for social and economic life. However, just like all new inventions, it also has disadvantages, and recently we have seen the terrible damage inflicted on young people by cyber bullying. Even in my own country, several young people have committed suicide recently and that is a terrible tragedy. Therefore, we have to do something about it and the key is to provide education for young people, for teachers and, most importantly of all, for parents so that they understand the internet. My second point is that the internet should be properly monitored to make sure that everyone adheres to the rules.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D).(SK) Mr President, I shall try to give accurate figures: 77 % of young people aged 15 to 16 are registered on a social network; 16 % use a fictitious identity and 27 % of 9- to 12-year-olds declare they are older than they really are. Despite these figures, children belong to the group of inexperienced and vulnerable users and face enormous risks, which have already been mentioned here, including abuse of personal data, commercial use of their profiles and many others. According to reports, 12 % of 9- to 12-year-olds state that they have been upset, mainly by some form of online bullying. Children face real dangers in the online world and in the online environment, and we must address these adequately through comprehensive legal, technical and educational regulation, including effective methods of prevention. It is equally necessary to ensure continuity for the programme that is operating in this area, and, in any case, to guarantee that the responsibility for …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE).(FR) Mr President, internet access technologies are evolving very quickly. It is now child’s play to connect to the internet from a computer, mobile phone or digital tablet, whether at home or in a public place.

Widespread access is an opportunity but also a danger to our children. Indeed, the internet can easily become a place where there is no respect for human and civil rights. Young users who spend, on average, two hours a day surfing are often exposed to inappropriate, violent or pornographic images and content and are easy targets for fraud and harassment.

The European Union has a responsibility in view of the dangers. It must coordinate screening measures taken by Member States and strike a balance between child protection and safeguards for fundamental freedoms. It is vital that the Union and the Member States beef up coercive measures to combat abuses and strengthen educational measures to raise children’s, parents’ and educators’ awareness of the dangers of the digital world.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Mr President, 38 % of 9 to 12-year-olds in Europe and 77 % of those aged 15 and 16 are members of sites like Facebook. Measures to protect children in the digital world aim to combat illegal and inappropriate content, harassment, discrimination, restriction of access to services, online surveillance, and attacks on privacy and freedom of expression.

The fact that minors reveal personal information and data, which remain online, means that the data may be processed illegally, or it can lead to the exploitation of minors, with the possibility of serious harm to their dignity, identity, personality and social inclusion. Minors need to understand the dangers they may encounter online, and the competent authorities, families, schools and civil society need to take joint responsibility for the appropriate education and protection of children in the digital world.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE).(RO) Mr President, we often talk about the need to teach children to use the internet safely, without realising that teachers often know much less about this virtual world. In the context of a massive increase in the number of people using social networks, from a very young age, I think it is vital to adopt urgent measures.

Digital education should have priority in schools, so that children become aware of the virtual world’s hidden dangers, which could irreversibly affect their lives: violent content, racism, pornography, online harassment. At the same time, teachers and parents need to acquire a minimum level of IT competence, because otherwise we risk being unable to help children defend themselves against the pitfalls of the internet. EU Member States, public bodies and internet service providers must adopt a strategy so that young people are soundly protected in the digital world.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE). – Mr President, the exposure of children to inappropriate digital content is unfortunately a negative consequence of the evolution and accessibility of technology. However, I would like to stress the importance of monitoring exposure to online and offline digital content, such as video games, which psychologically manipulate children. In this regard, it is absolutely crucial for us to fight against the risks associated with such content and to promote educational campaigns for the protection of minors against harmful activities associated with the negative exposure affecting their development. We need to ensure that all actors concerned with children’s education – parents, teachers and the media – are actively involved in a common effort to shelter minors from the psychological dangers of the digital world.

 
  
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  Erik Bánki (PPE).(HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the fact that so many colleagues have come to make a one-minute speech demonstrates the importance of this topic. I would very much like to thank the rapporteur for going into the material in such depth. She has reinforced the great importance of this subject with a very large amount of statistical data. I am the Vice-President of the Hungarian section of the International Children’s Safety Service, which is participating in the European Union’s Safer Internet Programme. I think we have done all sorts of things to give both children and parents as much information as possible about using the internet safely, but I can see that this is not very much. I am also the father of four children, and I can see that it is also possible for children to access the internet in countless places outside the family. In other words, it is not sufficient to deal with education, but it is very important that law enforcement and the prevention of internet crime be harmonised in a structured way among the Member States.

 
  
 

(End of the catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Johannes Hahn, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, the Commission would like to congratulate Ms Costa on her important report. It is in line with the European strategy to create a better internet for children, which was set up recently by the Commission to combine a series of instruments based on legislation, self-regulation and financial support. Educating and protecting our children is a top priority and it is essential to find this balance also in the online world, ensuring that children and adults can be safe while getting the most out of digital opportunities.

Parliament is indeed on the same wavelength. First of all, the Commission agrees on the importance given by the report to digital literacy and skills for children, since these will improve their job perspectives and help them become confident digital citizens. The report also encourages the provision of access to safe and quality digital content, which is another pillar of the new European strategy, since this will benefit both children and the development of the digital single market. Furthermore, the Commission would also like to emphasise that the Audiovisual Media Services Directive adopted in 2007 contains specific provisions to protect children in regard to audiovisual commercial communications.

The Commission also welcomes the recognition given to the role of Member States to enhance media education. We will continue to support the identification and exchange of best practices in the areas of formal and informal education, in particular through the network of Safer Internet Centres.

We also need to ensure that the ICT industry takes children’s needs into account and implements the right measures in their products. In this context, self-regulation is a key instrument. That is why my colleague Ms Kroes invited key CEOs last year to join a coalition to make the internet a better place for children through concrete actions on areas which are mentioned in your report: reporting harmful content, age-appropriate privacy settings, content classification, parental controls and take-down of child sexual abuse material. Past sectoral self-regulatory agreements have shown that the signatory companies have made progress in the area of child protection. But there is still room for improvement and we are looking forward to seeing the outcomes of that coalition, expected in the coming month.

The Commission is also well aware of the importance of fighting child sexual abuse material. We are committed through the European strategy to further enhancing cooperation with law enforcement, hotlines and ISPs to improve the process of notice and action.

Furthermore, the Commission is committed to the launching and functioning of a global alliance against child sexual abuse online as a means of sustaining national efforts to improve identification and assistance for child victims, prosecution of offenders, prevention of crimes and reducing the availability of child pornography.

Finally, the Commission welcomes your support for future funding for a safer internet. This funding through the proposed Connecting Europe Facility will be vital to developing sustainable infrastructures to deliver better internet with high-quality content for children, while boosting growth and innovation.

To do so, we must work closer together towards the common goal of achieving a better internet for children: a safe place, but also somewhere that young European citizens can enjoy while having the skills and awareness to make the most out of it.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: OLDŘICH VLASÁK
Vice-President

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – In contemporary society, young Europeans are spending more and more of their time in the digital sphere, both on the internet as well as watching television. Most young people highlight the positive opportunities offered by the internet, which they say are satisfactory, however there remain large numbers of inexperienced and naive web surfers, among whom minors, who when navigating lack certain awareness, protection and control. While parental control has, in many cases, proven to be a useful tool, it remains only partially effective on the internet and on electronic commutation networks. Similarly, across the European Union, Member States have continued to work to eliminate such gaps in protection and control for minors and have produced laws and have encouraged self-regulation. EU funding has paved the way for tools such as the Safer Internet Programme now well established in all the countries of the Union. In spite of this, Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union argues that policies for children are holistic. The importance of safeguarding minors should be at the very top of our priority list and thus I believe a broader framework directive is needed to encourage closer coordination between Member States and the EU.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – The agenda of promoting digital literacy and enhancing the access of young Europeans to the internet and to the unparalleled learning and communicating opportunities provided by it also raises the concern of how to protect our children from the dangers stemming from their ever growing online presence. Member States and the Commission therefore need to support and launch awareness-raising campaigns targeting children, parents and educators in order to provide the information necessary for the protection against cybercrime, as well as to encourage them to report suspicious websites and online behaviour. It would also be beneficial if authorities would reach agreements with content providers and server hosts to repel illegal or threatening activities in mainstream online media, most typically in social networks. National and international procedural rules for shutting down websites hosting exploitative, threatening, abusive, discriminatory or otherwise malicious content need also be properly established.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Young Europeans spend an hour and a half a day online, and for teenagers aged 15 to 16, that time rises to two hours a day. My view is that modern information and communication technology (ICT) is of unequivocal benefit to society and that the development of ICT in recent years has opened up many possibilities that previous generations could not dream of. Unfortunately, progress in every sector brings with it many drawbacks and risks, and online services are no exception. However, we must exercise care in distinguishing content. There is a difference between illegal and inappropriate content: inappropriate content may not be illegal and, equally, ‘legal’ may not mean ‘appropriate’. The greatest danger on the internet is during communication between individual users, where dangerous individuals may be hiding behind the high level of anonymity. These problems threaten not just children and young people, but all users. Therefore, I support the motion put forward by Ms Costa, which emphasises the introduction of education about safety in ICT use and about contact with potentially risky content.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) European children spend up to 40 hours a week in front of the television. They are online 88 minutes a day (2 hours for 15/16-year-olds), starting on average at 9 years of age, but in some very precocious cases, even before they start schooling and reading.

Unfortunately, children are exposed to enormous risks, such as psychological manipulation, child pornography, violation of privacy, online gambling, commercial fraud, conduct that can have a number of consequences, such as cyber bullying and sexting, and other content unsuitable for their age, such as inappropriate advertising, violence, sex, etc., which can cause fear and anxiety.

It is our responsibility to defend children’s innocence and to protect them from the dangers to which they may be exposed as a result of access to the internet or television. It is necessary to ensure continuity for the Safer Internet Programme, and to encourage action to combat online crime against minors, which has been successfully adopted by some Member States, facilitating information exchange with internet service providers and e-mail service providers.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The internet is a phenomenon of today’s world, and already we cannot imagine life without it. However, although it brings advantages, we must also be aware that it poses threats to vulnerable groups including – and especially – children and young people. Abuse of trust or even just ill-considered use of the internet may culminate in cyber bullying, sexual harassment or harm to health. In using online tools, children look for support to their parents, who must take an active interest in the threat posed by cyber space. Therefore, parents represent a key element in protecting children from online risks, and they must try to make sure the internet is on their children’s side, not a danger to them. To this end, if parents are to be able to help children, they must have sufficient information. The problem of dangers arising for our children online cannot be solved by prohibition. The road to success is cooperation between all the interested players, parents, educational institutions, civil society and, not least, business. At the same time, we must create a comprehensive legal framework at European level that will ensure the protection of children in the digital age.

 
  
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  Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) I greatly welcome the draft resolution on protecting children in the digital world. It is very important, in view of the dangers to children and young people arising from uncontrolled access to new technologies, mainly the internet but computer games as well, that we endeavour to look at the problem as a whole and to encourage Member States’ governments and the European Commission, as well as internet administrators, to take effect action to protect minors on the web.

The entry into service of national hotlines and contact points as ‘safety buttons’, the launch of an information campaign for parents on the threats to their children posed by dangerous digital content, and finally the creation of a new cyber security agency, are certainly steps in the right direction and should be firmly supported. I would therefore fervently urge the Commission permanently to monitor standards for the protection of children against dangers in the digital world and to encourage Member States’ governments to improve and strengthen the legal safeguards in force in this area.

 
  
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  Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D), in writing.(RO) Preventive action, through education about norms of conduct, plays an essential role in training children to make decisions about their online activity. The perception that children form for themselves about what is normal and acceptable for society is highly important. The way they perceive the use of digital media is important so that, in the future, they will be able to decide for themselves which paths they want to follow on the internet and which ones they prefer to avoid. Because an attitude is defined as a predisposition that forms over time and which is used to judge a context, a young person’s attitude to the internet forms over time and is very likely to be the result of the attitudes of friends, family or teachers to this medium.

I commend the idea of a campaign aimed at parents to help them understand the digital content their children are handling, and especially ways to protect them. I also find very useful the advice given to Member States and the Commission to conduct information campaigns to protect against IT crime. International cooperation between legal authorities should be strengthened, as should the work of civil society organisations involved in combating and monitoring online activities harmful to minors.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE), in writing. – As a society I feel strongly that it is our duty to protect our children and young people from harmful material that is so freely accessible on the internet. The material that I am referring to is that which was highlighted in Ms Costa’s report referring to that of strong connotations of violence, discrimination, sexism, and racism. This type of material has long been statistically proven to have negative as well as adverse effects on children. Thus, I feel that it is our responsibility to try to prevent exposure of such material to young people. It is my opinion that we cannot do this alone as legislatures but we must enlist the assistance of parents, schools and the communities in which these children live. In saying that I would like to emphasise that the internet is a viable and necessary tool in which children can learn from and explore, in fact there may very well be children watching us online as we are working now to protect them. Therefore it must be said that while we are putting energy in to safeguarding the internet for children just as much energy should be put into the positive side as well.

 
Last updated: 1 March 2013Legal notice