BETTER INTERNET FOR KIDS project
2015-16 in review
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Foreword


The Better Internet for Kids platform:
the new European hub for child online safety

One in three internet users are children. Kids go online at a younger age, spend more time on the internet and social media, play more online games and use mobile apps. While the internet offers many opportunities, it poses certain risks to vulnerable users. Unfortunately, we hear too often about children suffering from cyberbullying, sexting, hate speech, violence and manipulative advertising.

To tackle these risks we need to engage with a wide range of stakeholders: young people and their parents as well as governments, industry, academics and civil society.

One way we do this is through the Better Internet for Kids platform which was launched last year, with EU funding from the Connecting Europe Facility.

The platform gives internet users of all ages access to a wealth of information, guidance and resources on better internet issues. It is part of the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Kids and aims to increase access to high-quality content for children and young people, step up awareness and empowerment, create a safe environment for children online, and fight against child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.

Moreover, the Better Internet for Kids platform connects Safer Internet Centres across Europe. Co-funded by the Connecting Europe Facility programme, the centres provide education, awareness campaigns and helplines for children who encounter problems online. They also run hotlines for reporting, identifying and removing child abuse images.

I hope you will check out the information available on www.betterinternetforkids.eu and enjoy reading, in this report, what has already been achieved by the Better Internet for Kids platform.


Roberto Viola
Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission

Background to the BIK project



About the BIK project

Following a succession of Safer Internet programmes from 1999 to 2013, the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) project is the latest European Commission-funded initiative aimed at creating a better internet for Europe’s children and youth.

This review provides an overview of the BIK project and describes some of the highlights of its last 18 months (from January 2015 – June 2016).

Established as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the BIK project’s mission is to increase access to high-quality content for children and young people, step up awareness and empowerment, create a safe environment for children online and fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation.

To do this, the project offers a series of core services through a pan-European online platform and also coordinates and animates a European network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs).

The core service platform facilitates the exchange of knowledge, expertise, resources and best practices between key stakeholders, including, youth, parents, SIC members, teachers, researchers and industry.

The European network of Safer Internet Centres covers 27 EU Member states plus Iceland, Norway, Russia and Serbia. Each SIC typically comprises an awareness centre, helpline, hotline and youth panel.

The BIK project is jointly managed by European Schoolnet (EUN), which coordinates the Insafe network of awareness centres, helplines and youth panels, and by the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), dedicated to the removal of illegal online content.

Together, Insafe and INHOPE also reach out to policy makers, law enforcement agencies, industry, teachers, parents and youth through participation in meetings such as the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) and the organisation of events and campaigns such as the global celebration of Safer Internet Day (SID).

BIK at a glance

European Safer Internet Centres provide targeted actions through…


Insafe awareness centres provide a range of awareness-ranging actions, including developing resources1 and delivering training and events2. They also work directly with young people3 through youth panels and similar.


Insafe helplines provide support services4 for young people (and their parents) via telephone, email and online chat services.


INHOPE hotlines5 deal with illegal content online and are committed to stamping out child sexual abuse from the internet.

1 In 2015, Insafe SICs created more than 9,000 new resources covering a range of eSafety topics such as media literacy and big data.
2 In 2015, Insafe SICs reached more than 5 million people through events and trainings.
3 In 2015, Insafe SICs reported that more than 5,400 young people directly participated in activities, with many more reached indirectly through online actions and campaigns.
4 In 2015, Insafe Helplines received 38,440 calls covering a range of issues from cyberbullying and sextortion, and privacy and excessive use. Over 50 per cent of contacts come from teenagers.
5 In 2015, INHOPE hotlines received more than 483,000 reports via its EC-funded hotlines alone.


Better Internet for Kids actions extend well beyond their European roots…


31

31 Safer Internet Centres (SICs)
in Europe.


90

More than 90 additional Safer Internet Day Committees and Supporters across the globe.


2,000

More than 2,000 additional stakeholders across research, industry and civil society supporting the BIK agenda locally, nationally and internationally.

development of the core service platform


A community of good practice

Facilitating the sharing of information, experience and best practice between members of the European network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) is a key objective of the BIK core service platform.

To this end, SIC members use the platform to upload and comment on blog posts about topical issues, emerging trends, recent events, campaigns and other information of interest to the SIC network.

SIC members also post discussion threads on four ‘Communities of Practice’ forums, reflecting the four principle strands of their work:

  • Awareness raising of safer internet issues through campaigns and other activities.
  • Helplines advising children and parents on how to stay safe online.
  • Youth panels giving their views and experience about online technologies.
  • Hotlines allowing the public to report illegal content and ensuring that those reports are acted on.

Over the last 18 months, vibrant pan-European discussions have been held on topics ranging from emerging eSafety issues and successful campaigns, to helpline case studies and the latest research.


Developing capacity among Safer Internet Centres with platform tools and services

Collectively the network’s 31 Safer Internet Centres bring together a wealth of expertise and experience in dealing with eSafety issues and creating a better internet for young people.

These future digital citizens face the promise of a seamless digital world where they can interact, innovate and collaborate in a far smarter and more sustainable way. But that promise will only become a reality if they are given the necessary skills, protection and support.

Children need accessible and appropriate online content and services as well as adequate protection and support from the effects of harmful contact and conduct such as grooming, cyberbullying or sexting. Young people need the critical thinking and digital skills to use the internet and other online technologies creatively, productively and responsibly.

Fortunately, the same technology that creates these challenges also provides a far more effective and efficient way to meet them, which is the central idea behind the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) project.

As part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the project has developed an online core service platform to facilitate the exchange of expertise, resources and best practices between a European network of Safer Internet Centres and other key online safety stakeholders, including industry and the research community.

The Better Internet for Kids project helps empower children and young people to actively participate in today's transformative digital society while fostering discussion on how to shape the personal and professional future of a connected generation.


Direct youth involvement via the platform

The active involvement of young people in the development of a safer and better internet is a fundamental pillar of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) project, and the core service platform is key to facilitating this.

A dedicated Youth area on the BIK platform provides a secure, safe, moderated, collaborative space for youth participation at both national and European level. It allows young people to express their views and exchange knowledge and experiences concerning their use of online technologies. It also facilitates the role of youth in advising on internet safety and empowerment strategy, helping to create innovative resources and disseminate eSafety messages to their peers.

Once logged in, young people can post blogs, comment on forum discussions, take advantage of online learning modules and resources, and participate in online meetings. They can do this either at the European level in the general Youth area or nationally in their country-specific collaborate space.


Raising public awareness
and signposting national services

The core service platform has an important role in raising public awareness of how Europe is creating a safer and better internet, and where users can get help in their own countries.

On a pan-European level, the home page of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal - www.betterinternetforkids.eu - offers a selection of news stories and blogs on recent events, new resources, guidelines and latest research.

Members of the public can also subscribe to the quarterly electronic BIK bulletin. Each bulletin provides a topical focus article looking at the latest trends in online life along with news and features from youth, industry and the research community.

Finally, since the most effective awareness raising often occurs at national level where specific language and cultural factors can be taken into account, the platform also serves as a signposting service to the network’s 31 national Safer Internet Centres.


Supporting the public with tools and services

Over the years, Safer Internet Centres have developed hundreds of resources aimed at helping teachers, parents, carers, children and young people to discover the online world safely.

Now, the core service platform offers a single location where all these resources are freely available for consultation and download.

A gallery of educational resources - searchable by language and target age - includes over 400 handbooks, guides, tip sheets, lesson plans, educational games and quizzes.

A video gallery - searchable by language - brings together around 200 of the best awareness-raising videos from the European network, as well as from other partners.

At the same time, a searchable guide to online services provides key information about more than 60 popular apps, social networking sites and other platforms that are commonly being used by children, young people and adults today.


Engaging with wider stakeholders

In addition to parents, young people, teachers and carers, research and industry partners are key stakeholders in the Better Internet for Kids project.

The core service platform has an important role in raising public awareness of how Europe is creating a safer and better internet, and where users can get help in their own countries.

Researchers provide a body of knowledge and evidence on issues affecting children and young people online today. Armed with this knowledge, we are able to identify emerging trends and shape appropriate responses, and create effective resources for the challenges presented.

Industry works with the European Commission and Safer Internet Centres across Europe to ensure that products and services are safer by design, and that appropriate measures and responses can be given to any issues identified. Many also develop awareness-raising campaigns and materials.

The core service platform provides a publishing area where both research and industry partners can disseminate their contributions to the creation of a better and safer internet. The platform also offers a single location where the public can learn about latest developments in the field.

In terms of specific actions, the current project has hosted a number of focus groups to further collaborate with stakeholders.

A focus group meeting was organised in cooperation with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in October 2015. The meeting discussed an ongoing research project on young children (0-8) and their usage of digital technology, in which various Safer Internet Centres have been involved. The JRC research project aimed to put forward recommendations for policy and for further research on behaviours and learning of the 0-8 age group growing up in a digital culture: an area which will continue to be a focus of ongoing BIK activity.

In June 2016, a BIK Policy Map focus group meeting was held, bringing together representatives from the European Commission, Safer Internet Centres, the EUN network of Ministries of Education, experts from the research environment, and European regulatory authorities. The meeting helped to evaluate the outcomes of a former BIK Map exercise which provided analysis of public policies in terms of policy governance and concrete initiatives and actions. The focus group meeting discussed the results presented in the BIK Map report, while exploring how it corresponds to other available policy evidence as well as more concrete national perspectives. Moreover, it helped to explore the possibility of more regularly updating the BIK Map data, with the aim of integrating the BIK Map tool into the BIK core service platform infrastructure in the future.

As the current project draws to a close, planning is underway for a BIK POSCON focus group meeting in July 2016. POSCON - the thematic network for Positive Online Content and Services for Children in Europe – previously provided concrete recommendations to content providers on the topic of child online safety at the European level. The meeting will provide an opportunity for members of POSCON, the Insafe network and wider stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding how to communicate about positive content, reinvigorating actions in the next phase of BIK work with a dedicated campaign delivered through the BIK platform.

Coordination of the European network
of Safer Internet Centres

Insafe and INHOPE work together through a network of Safer Internet Centres across Europe – typically comprising an awareness centre, helpline, hotline and youth panel.

Click on the map to find out more about support and services by country.

Iceland Ireland United-Kingdom France Portugal Malta Italy Germany Poland Denmark Netherlands Belgium Finland Sweden Norway Luxembourg Russia Estonia Latvia Lithuania Cyprus Bulgaria Romania Greece Czech-Republic Slovakia Serbia Hungary Croatia Slovenia Austria

Some recent successes of this collaborative model include…

January 2015 to June 2016 has seen the launch of a number of innovative initiatives to boost youth participation in the BIK project.

2015 saw the launch of digital leaders programmes in Bulgaria, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The programmes provide extensive online and offline training to young people interested in becoming advisers on internet safety among their peers and within their school environment.

Youth participation in Safer Internet Day (SID) took another step forward in 2016 with Irish youth panellists helping to create the highly successful ‘Forever’ video campaign, focused on the issue of non-consensual sexting. Meanwhile, Greek youth panellists were in charge of the moderation of their country’s main SID event.

Last but not least, a programme of youth webinars was launched in 2016 to encourage young people to get more involved in internet governance discussions. So far, two webinars have been held: on digital rights and citizenship, and on youth involvement in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).


From September 2015 to January 2016, Insafe’s network of helplines took part in a major study of emerging online risks and the most effective support strategies.

The 31 European helplines provide confidential advice about online risks to young people and their parents. The findings showed that the highest number of calls they received concerned cyberbullying (17 per cent) followed by relationships online (11 per cent).

Apart from revealing emerging online issues, the study aimed to assist Insafe helplines to develop their effectiveness and demonstrate their impact. To this end, a final report made recommendations for better data collection, knowledge exchange, publicity and the embedding of monitoring and evaluation activities.

The research was carried out on behalf of European Schoolnet by EU Kids Online (a multinational research network) and funded by Kaspersky Lab, demonstrating the importance of research and industry partners in the BIK project.


Over the period of this review (January 2015 - June 2016), the European Insafe network has produced numerous materials to help create a better and safer internet. Safer Internet Centres are invited to showcase their resources at the twice-yearly resource competition (as part of Insafe training meetings) as a way of sharing best practice and highlighting opportunities to translate/localise existing resources.

The May 2015 resource competition winner was ‘MIL for me': an online training resource on media and information literacy (MIL), developed by the Swedish Safer Internet Centre. It contains a varied mix of online learning modules for teachers, school librarians and students as well as lesson plans and suggested methods for working with MIL in schools. There is also a separate training module for public librarians. This resource is now being translated and localised for use across Insafe countries.

The winner of the December 2015 resource competition was the Finnish ‘Digital Gold Miners’ resource. This resource provides information and activities regarding big data on the internet. It focuses particularly on the collection of internet users’ information as well as the intended use of the collected information. The goal is to support active and responsible citizenship and offer tools for the management of information and life in the digital age.

Both of the above mentioned resources were featured in an eTwinning learning event designed to foster debate among teachers about eSafety and digital skills in April 2016.

The winner of the final resource competition of the current project, in April 2016, was a ‘Cyberbullying - First Aid App’ developed by the German Safer Internet Centre. The app was developed and programmed by a group of media scouts (16-17 years old) under the direction of a klicksafe mentor. It aims to help victims of cyberbullying, addressing young people on an emotional level while referring to their daily life and usage habits online. The resource will be localised and translated during summer 2016.

Resources from all Insafe network countries are available in the Resource gallery on the Better Internet for Kids portal.


INHOPE hotlines offer the public a way of anonymously reporting internet material including child sexual abuse material they suspect to be illegal. The hotline will ensure that the matter is investigated and, if found to be illegal, the information will be passed to the relevant law enforcement agency (LEA) and in many cases the internet service provider (ISP) hosting the content.

In order to raise awareness of this important function, and reinforce the message that we all have a responsibility to act if we encounter potentially illegal content, INHOPE developed an advocacy video campaign titled ‘Report it, don't ignore it!’.

Since its launch on Safer Internet Day 2015, the video has been translated into 15 languages and was nominated for the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Prize 2015, in the category ‘Ethical dimensions of the information society’.


In October 2015, INHOPE provided training for Europol’s annual training course on 'Combating the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet' (COSEC), held in Selm, Germany, at the LAFP-NRW Police Academy. The training was held for 10 days with 75 cybercrime officers in attendance from all over Europe. This was an excellent opportunity to increase awareness of reporting hotlines.

The training follows the European Cybercrime Centre's (EC3) approach to cybercrime and its training ethos. The approach is collegial, with expert trainers and investigators working in the field of child sexual exploitation coming together to network and exchange experiences. The main objective of the annual course is to enhance the expertise of those working in this crime area in the EU and beyond, so that they are better able to investigate and dismantle child sex offender networks on the internet, with the rights and safety of children involved being a priority.


INHOPE’s new technology platform ICCAM (standing for ‘I see Child Abuse Material’) helps to reduce duplication of reports and speed up identification of new child sexual abuse material (CSAM), hence improving notice and takedown times of illegal content.

In 2015, images uploaded by analysts to ICCAM were retrieved by INTERPOL Crimes against Children Unit and escalated as brand new material not already in ICSE (the International Child Sexual Exploitation Database). The three ‘movies’ and one still image depicted the same child victim and had been produced just a few weeks prior.

INTERPOL began investigating the quality leads further and identified the source location as Denmark. The Danish Police took the case on and immediately deployed resources in an attempt to identify the child victim and the offender. Within an hour, the child, a six-year-old girl, was located and rescued. Thanks to the initial URL information provided by the hotline, a request was made to the ISP (internet service provider) and the ISP, in accordance with the protocols in place, provided information as to the uploader of these files. The offender was successfully located and arrested.

Project highlights



  • Safer Internet Day

    Over the years, Safer Internet Day (SID) has become a landmark event in the global online safety calendar and the 2015 and 2016 editions were no exception.

    Organised by Insafe in February of each year, SID aims to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people.

    More than 110 countries took part in the 12th edition of SID (with a theme of ‘Let’s create a better internet together’) and by the 13th edition (with a theme of ‘Play your part for a better internet!’), participation had risen to over 120 countries, with at least 21,000 schools and more than 19.5 million people taking part in Europe alone.

    Between both editions, a number of significant changes were made. The SID mouse logo was replaced by a fresher and more modern SID smart device logo; the SID website was redesigned and relaunched at www.saferinternetday.org as a minisite of the new Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, and an online SID gallery of resources was also included to help schools celebrate SID in the classroom.

    Safer Internet Day also highlights some of the important strategic partnerships in existence. For example, on SID 2016, Google ran a Safer Internet Day promotion on many of its market search pages, promoting the #SaferInternetDay hashtag and offering 2GB of free Google Drive space to anyone conducting a Google security check-up in honour of the day. Also on the day, INTERPOL released a video about law enforcement playing its part for a better internet. In it, Mick Moran, head of INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Unit, talks about the value of the relationship between INTERPOL, INHOPE and reporting hotlines globally and nationally, from speeding up notice and takedown times, to serving the victim identification imperative.

  • Safer Internet Forum

    Inaugurated by the European Commission in 2004, the annual Safer Internet Forum (SIF) has evolved into a key international conference for discussing the latest trends, risks and solutions related to child online safety.

    The 12th edition of the Forum took place in Luxembourg from 28-29 October 2015 under the theme of 'Breaking down barriers for a better internet'.

    Some 230 participants from more than 30 countries attended the event including young people, parents, policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers, industry and the European Commission.

    The Forum included sessions on a wide variety of subjects with a particular focus on how to secure children’s rights in the digital world, deal with problematic youth-produced user-generated content, promote user control and understand the impact of new types of connectivity.

    Youth representatives from many of the 31 countries in the Insafe network also participated in the discussions and outlined how they see the internet and new technologies today and in the future through a pan-European Youth Panel, later producing a report on their participation.

  • Internet Governance Forum

    Although the Better Internet for Kids project is a European initiative, the internet is of course global. In this respect, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) represents a key opportunity for the project to share its expertise and experiences worldwide.

    The 10th annual IGF was held in João Pessoa, Brazil from 10-13 November 2015, bringing people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet.

    In addition to manning a booth in the IGF Village to showcase resources and campaigns, a delegation from the joint Insafe/INHOPE networks also hosted a workshop titled ‘Beyond the tipping point: SID in the global South'.

    The workshop explored how the 2016 SID campaign could help to create a safer and better internet for children and young people in countries that may need it most.

  • Representing the European eSafety agenda on a global scale

    Just as the internet is global, so too are many of the key stakeholders that can help make it better and safer for young people. For this reason, the BIK project has a vital role in engaging with global industry and international law enforcement agencies.

    For example, representatives of the joint Insafe/INHOPE networks regularly attend the biannual meetings of the ICT Coalition for Children Online, which is made up of 20 companies from across the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Additionally, the two networks regularly liaise with some of the major online service providers, participating in, for example, the Twitter Trust and Safety Council.

    In March 2016, INHOPE attended the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) full day on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. Preventing child sexual exploitation and enhancing children's protection through information and communication technologies was a top concern of the session. The work of reporting hotlines was highlighted throughout the session, with keynote interventions from three of INHOPE’s Advisory Board members.

    In April 2016, INHOPE presented at the European Internet Forum (EIF) event at the European Parliament, alongside partners Europol and Missing Children Europe. The policy breakfast was entitled ‘Children online: Internet, cybercrime and sexual abuse online'.

  • Network training meetings

    Both the Insafe and INHOPE networks organise regular capacity-building training meetings around Europe.

    From January 2015 to June 2016, Insafe awareness centres and helplines met three times to share best practices and discuss emerging online themes with outside experts, researchers and leading industry representatives. In 2015, a May training meeting in Prague focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) and online extremism and radicalisation, while in December discussions in Warsaw focused on the sexualisation of children and childhood online. In 2016, an April training meeting in Cyprus concentrated on data protection and gaming disorders.

    In April 2015, hotline analysts received training at the European Police College (CEPOL) in Budapest to sharpen detection and tracing skills in the fight against online child sexual abuse while in June 2015, INHOPE planned its hotline training meeting in The Hague to coincide with Europol’s Annual Experts Meeting on combatting Child Sexual Exploitation.

    The INHOPE network also provides a range of specialist courses for its member hotlines. In November 2015, which coincided with the launch of the ICCAM technology platform to the global network, INHOPE members met in Lisbon to talk tech. In May 2016, opened by the Danish Minister of Justice Søren Pind, hotline members received further training while attending INHOPE’s Annual General Meeting in Copenhagen, with a focus on prevention, terminology and capacity building within the context of the global WePROTECT initiative.

working with stakeholders

conclusions

As Europe moves towards a digital single market, barriers are being removed and opportunities unlocked, creating the promise of smarter, more sustainable growth and broader and more inclusive participation.

The Better Internet for Kids (BIK) project is built on the belief that, as Europe’s future digital citizens, today’s children and young people have the most to gain but only if they are given the necessary skills, support and protection.

Children and young people need access to high-quality content and a safe online environment but also the digital skills and media literacy to fully exploit the opportunities of our fast-evolving digital world creatively, critically and responsibly.

For parents, carers, teachers, online safety professionals and young people themselves, the challenges thrown up by new and ever-evolving online technologies are enormous. However, with the support of the European Union, the BIK project has demonstrated that the same technology can also be used to enable these key stakeholders to respond far more efficiently and effectively.

Indeed, a multi-stakeholder approach is likely to be even more important in the future as we respond to emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analysis and new forms of virtual reality based interaction.

Policy makers can help with new regulations such as the recent European data protection legislation but so too can researchers and industry by ensuring that policy is evidence based and that new products and services are safer by design.

Today’s digital world is all encompassing and we all have a role in making it better and safer for Europe’s citizens of the future!