SaferNet Brasil and learnings from the SIC+ programme

SaferNet Brasil is the first ever NGO in Brazil to establish a multistakeholder approach to protecting human rights in the digital environment. Founded in 2005, the organisation created and has coordinated (since 2005) the National Human Rights Cybertipline and, years later, created and maintains the National Helpline and the Brazilian awareness node for online protection.

Date 2021-03-12 Author SaferNet, Brazilian SIC+ pilot programme participant Section awareness Audience media specialist, research, policy and decision makers

The multi-stakeholder approach can be reflected on formally signed agreements with the Ministry of Human Rights, General Prosecutor's Office, Ministry and departments of Education, and many companies in the private sector to run projects that aim to strengthen the activities and support public policies focused on human rights applied to the digital environment.

During these 15 years of experience, the hotline has received more than 4 million reports, the helpline has supported more than 32,000 users, and more than 80,000 educators and social workers have been trained. Capacity-building programmes with educators, young people, legislators, policymakers and social workers have made it possible to reach more than 4 million students with awareness materials, campaigns, and activities. SaferNet Brasil believes that it is necessary to identify the main issues, detect risks and trends, increase recovering support, empower users, and share knowledge to help establish a culture of human rights respect in the Brazilian internet ecosystem.

Considering the global challenge of promoting online safety, SaferNet has always been open to international cooperation since its beginnings, learning with peer organisations and sharing what was available about the Brazilian context. One concrete example can be highlighted regarding the active participation at Internet Governance Forum (IGF) workshops on child protection and human rights online. It was in the IGF context that, in 2008, SaferNet was invited to join the global Safer Internet Day (SID) campaign coordinated by Insafe on behalf of the European Commission (EC) and had the opportunity to strengthen collaborations with the Insafe network, complementary to the collaboration started as an associate member of the INHOPE hotline network

Commencing its Safer Internet Day celebrations in Brazil in 2009, SaferNet also began to participate at the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) and has had the chance to further comprehend educational resources and projects related to digital citizenship developed by Insafe members and partners. In the following years, they have localised some great educational materials such as the Play and Learn booklet and the Web We Want handbook for students and for teachers, but also promoted some exchange with colleagues from Portugal. Brazilian Safer Internet Day has grown to become a crucial day for the online safety agenda, not only for schools but also for internet companies, media press companies, NGOs and law enforcement agencies.

Even without any similar large public policy or programmes such as the Safer Internet Programme or Better Internet for Kids (BIK) in Brazil, SaferNet is consolidated as a Safer Internet Centre (SIC), working close to national and international partners to reinforce public and private initiatives around human rights protection in the digital environment. All shared experiences as a partner of Insafe and a member of INHOPE have brought important insights and perspectives that inspired SaferNet Brasil to grow, connecting other stakeholders to join efforts at the national level. The SaferNet CEO served as an INHOPE Board Member (and Foundation President) between 2014 and 2016, enabling the organisation to share experiences with regional and international peer organisations.

Being part of the SIC+ pilot programme was one more special opportunity to learn from international peers on how to face current challenges. As the context is key for online safety, all social inequalities and cultural differences mean that different approaches are needed and policies must be designed for each reality. Challenging examples for mediation with parents and educators are the big changes seen in the last eight years of the ICT Kids Online Brazil survey. Access using mobile phones has increased from 21 per cent in 2012 to 95 per cent in 2019 and, remarkably, exclusive usage by mobile phones has risen from 6 per cent to 58 per cent in this period. Among children from low-income families, mobile phones are the exclusive device for 73 per cent, and only 21 per cent access the internet from a notebook, desktop or tablet. Nowadays, much more important than only keeping adults' eyes under children's shoulders when they use the internet, the mobile connection requires more efforts on self-protection. Critical thinking education also enables responsible autonomy in this new digital connected world, especially when parents have no basic literacy nor digital literacy to support them.

The best practices that SaferNet learned from more consolidated European Safer Internet Centres may inspire the organisation, but always need further contextualisation. By learning more from other developing countries participating in the SIC+ pilot programme, it was amazing to realise how it is not possible to consider a “linear progression” in relation to the challenges the organisation has in comparison with what developed countries experienced years ago. Even with temporal gaps in the penetration of new technologies, the issues of safety and wellbeing could have similarities but always have local singularities. Understanding how the same global platforms can provoke different reactions and perceptions from users and regulators open excellent highways of mutual learning. SaferNet deals with singular combinations of local culture and global service, of human rights approach and violence, embedded in everyday social practices that are reflected online. More collaboration between global south countries could enhance their capacity to benefit from inspirational European references and deal with particularities in policymaking and implementation around online safety and wellbeing.

For more information about the organisation, visit the SaferNet Brasil website. For more information about Safer Internet Day activities in Brazil, visit the Brazilian Safer Internet Day Committee profile page. To learn more about the SIC+ pilot programme, read our dedicated article on the Better Internet for Kids portal.

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