In the spotlight: Safer Internet Centre Portugal and Spain

As part of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Quality Assurance Programme (QAP), the Insafe-INHOPE Coordination Teams are jointly conducting a set of fourteen country visits to national Safer Internet Centres (SICs) to better understand what is happening in the Member States: monitoring emerging issues and challenges, identifying good practices to be shared, and harvesting the results of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) policy. On 30-31 March 2023, an online cluster meeting with the Portuguese and Spanish SICs was organised by the Insafe-INHOPE Coordination Team. 

Date 2023-06-16 Author BIK Team Section awareness, helplines, hotlines, industry Topic media literacy/education Audience organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers

The meeting started with an overview of national stakeholders and strategic partners. For Portugal, the following stakeholders were present on the call:

NOVA University Lisbon (EU Kids Online Portugal): Cristina Ponte from the NOVA University Lisbon is an EU Kids Online researcher and a member of the Portuguese SIC’s Advisory Board since 2008. The EU Kids Online research network provides practitioners and policymakers with research evidence in the framework of the 4Cs model (content, contact, conduct and contract). The network aims to enhance knowledge of European children's online opportunities, risks and safety. It uses multiple methods to map children's and parents' experiences of the internet, in dialogue with national and European policy stakeholders. 

National Cybersecurity Centre: The National Cybersecurity Centre (CNCS) is the current coordinator of the Portuguese SIC. It is the national expert authority on cybersecurity matters with public entities and critical infrastructures, ensuring that cyberspace is used as a space of freedom, security and justice, to protect the sectors of society that materialise national sovereignty and the democratic rule of law. 

Since 2019, the CNCS has produced four massive open online courses (MOOCs) for the Portuguese SIC. These courses have accumulated over 122,000 participants since their creation. Moreover, they also attracted 2,321 participants from the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (excluding Portugal). More than 100 public and private stakeholders added at least one of these courses to their employee training schemes. It was also noted that these courses are currently available only in Portuguese; however, they will be translated into English in the future. Moreover, a new course about inclusion is also in planning and it will target people with disabilities.

General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD): The General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) aims to promote the reduction in the consumption of psychoactive substances, the prevention of addictive behaviours, and the reduction of dependencies. SICAD has developed and is currently implementing a digital interactive game entitled Me and the Others (Eu e os Outros) for the universal prevention of problems linked to the consumption of psychoactive substances. The game targets children and young people between the ages of 10-18 years old. In 2019, in collaboration with the Portuguese SIC, a new version of the Me and the Others game was produced to focus on the risks related to the use of the internet. This version of the game addresses various topics including addiction without substance (gaming, gambling, internet misuse, online shopping and so on), cybersex (risky online relationships), cyberbullying, hate speech, and family dynamics (rules, digital parenting, parental control and so on), as well as informing players of the available relevant social support services.

Portuguese Order of Psychologists: Representing the Portuguese Order of Psychologists, Miguel Oliveira is a member of the SIC’s current Advisory Board. Collaboration with the centre started in 2020 with a joint awareness campaign on cybersecurity in the context of European Cybersecurity Month. Following this campaign, the collaboration continued with another awareness campaign called What the internet says about you, which is targeted at adults and aims to promote safe behaviour on the internet.

Department for Investigation of Cybercrimes Against Human Beings – Criminal Police: Representing the Portuguese Criminal Police, the Coordinator of the Department for Investigation of Cybercrimes Against Human Beings, Pedro Vincente is a member of the Portuguese SIC’s Advisory Board and interacts very closely with the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) regarding hotline operations.

Like the Portuguese colleagues, the Spanish SIC also collaborates with various stakeholders at national level. As part of this meeting the following stakeholders were present:

National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF): The National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF) is the unit of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training responsible for the integration of ICT and teacher training in non-university educational stages. As such, INTEF coordinates these activities in various regions of Spain. INTEF mainly collaborates with the Spanish SIC on teacher training activities through the creation of various massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as other smaller-scale online teacher training activities. In addition, INTEF also collaborates with the SIC on Safer Internet Day (SID) activities to reach teachers, students and parents. It was also noted that INTEF and the SIC conduct information exchange in the context of the School of Social Networks project, which is coordinated by EUN.

State Attorney General, Cybercrime Prosecutor Office: The Cybercrime Prosecutors Office is a part of the State Attorney General of Spain. It coordinates a network of 150 Spanish prosecutors specialising in the fight against child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse. Due to the restrictive regulations in this field, the Spanish hotline is not able to analyse reports of child sexual abuse or exploitation materials (CSAM/CSEM). Against this background, and in the framework of a recently signed agreement with the Cybercrime Prosecutors Office, the hotline forwards such reports not only to law enforcement, but also to the Cybercrime Prosecutors Office to be further processed. The results of the investigations conducted by the prosecutors is also reported back to the hotline.

Plataforma de Infancia: Mabel Taravilla, who is responsible for youth participation activities in Plataforma de Infancia, noted during the meeting that they facilitate the youth participation activities for the Spanish SIC. During the stakeholder roundtable, Plataforma de Infancia briefly highlighted two recent international youth activities, namely, the Stop Child Abuse campaign carried out in collaboration with the Portuguese SIC, and the Europe’s Digital Decade consultations.

University of the Basque Country (EU Kids Online Spain): The University of the Basque Country, which is also the Spanish node of EU Kids Online, collaborates with the Spanish SIC in relation to the conduct of academic research. More specifically, the collaborative research conducted by the University of the Basque Country and the Spanish SIC aims to measure the impact, benefits and risks associated with digital technologies implementation in Spanish schools. In this context, the research targets teachers, students and families.

Update from the Safer Internet Centre consortiums


The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) consortium consists of seven partners from both public and private sectors coordinated by the National Cybersecurity Centre (CNCS). CNCS also runs one of the two awareness centres of the Portuguese SIC, the Centro Internet Segura, which targets the general population. The second awareness centre, SeguraNet, is run by the Directorate-General for Education (DGE) and it targets more specifically the school community in Portugal.

The third consortium partner, Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth (IPDJ), promotes training sessions and awareness activities on the national level within its network (consisting of local and regional entities such as youth associations, sports federations and associations, and local schools) while at an international level, IPDJ promotes Council of Europe campaigns such as No Hate Speech Movement (NHSM) and Democracy Here. Democracy Now.

The Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) operates the helpline and the hotline strands of the Portuguese SIC.

The main contribution of Altice Foundation to this consortium is the knowledge gathered in the “Comunicar em Segurança” programme and the production of educational materials for different age groups. Its strong network connections are utilised by the Portuguese SIC to reach broader audiences such as home users, companies, public organisations, schools, the press and others. Altice Foundation is also responsible for organising the theatre play “ID a tua marca na Net”.

Microsoft’s main asset, as well as its contribution to Portuguese SIC, is the knowledge gathered in producing education materials for different age groups. Microsoft has also focused on producing substantial amounts of internet safety contents in Portuguese. This content has been a reference source in recent years and has been integrated in the Portuguese SIC.

The Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) leverages Portuguese SIC activities developed by other partners, jointly or individually, with the availability of technological services such as Videocast and the NAU platform. Notably, FCT also operates a small TV studio in Lisbon which is available for the SIC’s content production.

The objectives of the awareness centre activities of the Portuguese SIC are to implement dissemination activities, plan awareness campaigns, promote project results, and ensure that all services are well known by decision makers, relevant stakeholders, and the general public.

In this context, the awareness centre started its presentation with the highlights of its awareness campaigns and resources. These included:

It was noted during the meeting that digital citizenship is a part of the national school curriculum involving all students between the ages of 10 and 15. In this context, the awareness centre also carries out various initiatives, campaigns and resources targeting the school communities in the country. These include:

The awareness centre is also providing teacher trainings in various forms including accredited training courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Through the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth (IPDJ), the awareness centre also provides trainings and workshops for non-formal educators. In this context, they highlighted, in particular, a training programme that was organised for young volunteers and youth information workers. In 2021, this training included two webinars focusing on the themes of sexuality and online risks, as well as environmental awareness.

In terms of youth participation, the awareness centre facilitates the aforementioned Digital Leaders programme, which was inspired by the namesake programme by the UK SIC partner, Childnet. In this context, the awareness centre facilitates two groups of students between the ages of 12-18 and 6-12. These groups are organised in teams and with a teacher responsible for monitoring the development of activities. They promote, with the support of SeguraNet, awareness-raising activities with their peers, parents, and teachers, as well as the wider community, encouraging the safe and responsible use of the internet and digital environments.

The helpline of the Portuguese SIC, Linha Internet Segura, is operated by the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV). The helpline provides its consultation services through a dedicated phoneline (800 219 090), email contact service, as well as an online form. It operates on weekdays between 8:00 and 22:00. 

It was also noted during the meeting that APAV operates the hotline of the SIC as a joint service with the helpline under the same name (Linha Internet Segura). The hotline service of the Portuguese SIC was initially operated by another consortium member – the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) – since 2009, but it was passed to APAV in 2019. The hotline is constituted by three analysts all of whom have received content assessment training in Lyon, France from Interpol. The hotline operates between the hours of 10:00-18:00.


The Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE) is the reference entity to drive a better internet for minors in Spain, and it works within the framework of the European Union's BIK strategy. INCIBE manages Internet Segura for Kids (IS4K), the Spanish Safer Internet Centre (SIC), that takes part in the Insafe and INHOPE networks, and also operates SIC services to promote a safer and better use of the internet and mobile technologies among children and young people: an awareness-raising centre including a youth participation initiative, a helpline and a hotline. In the context of SIC project, INCIBE created a partnership of 14 public and private entities as well as academia.

The awareness centre of the Spanish SIC is manged by INCIBE, with the support of various consortium members who presented their activities during this meeting. The consortium partners which took part in this meeting acted as a representation of the wider board of partners as indicated above, with the aim of giving a brief overview of developments in Spain. Some of the highlights of the Spanish awareness centre included the following: 

  • The consortium partner Pantallas Amigas presented the biennial conference series entitled ‘Connected Citizenship Congress’. The 2019 edition of this conference focused on the topic of education and digital well-being, while the 2021 edition focused on children’s rights and parental mediation in the digital context. A third edition will be organised in October 2023 and will focus on the topic of mental and emotional health between screens.
  • The next initiative presented was the School of Parents by Empantallados. The School of Parents programme offers expert conferences for parents to help them with the digital education of their children. The conference series took place in various major cities in Spain in 2019 and 2020, and attended by a total of 3,280 people.
  • Another project highlighted during the awareness centre presentations was the White paper on responsible influence. Spanish SIC consortium partner ICMedia produced the White Paper during the previous iteration of the SIC project. The document promotes safe and responsible behaviour on the part of influencers. It aims to provide an action guide that promotes a reliable digital environment for consumers, with increased credibility, transparency and effectiveness.
  • Finally, an Fundación Aprender a Mirar (FAAM) was also highlighted as part of the awareness centre work of the Spanish SIC. This programme covers topics such as video games, cyberbullying, sexting, online addictions and self-esteem, among others. In the context of this programme, 187 workshops were organised between 2021 and 2022, reaching more than 7,900 people (students, parents and teachers).

In terms of youth participation, it was noted that the cornerstone of the youth panel is the Cibercorresponsales (cyber correspondents) website "La Pinza" by Plataforma de Infancia, although the development of the young people's participation initiative encompass other activities run by SIC-Spain partners Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Pantallas Amigas and Fundación Aprende a Mirar.

The youth panel members, which includes approximately 800 youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17, write blog posts and articles about their activities for the La Pinza website. Throughout the year, youth panel members also participate in face-to-face meetings in groups of approximately 20 young people. The youth panel communicates its ideas, concerns and suggestions for improving internet safety awareness among youth and children. Candidates to join the annual BIK Youth Panel and the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) are selected from the participants of these meetings.

Under operation since May 2017, the helpline is a public service and the only channel that supports and assists minors, parents, educators, and professionals working with minors on how to face risks on the internet, such as harmful content, dangerous contacts and inappropriate behaviours. Since February 2020, the helpline has shortened its number to 017. Currently, the helpline operates every day of the year from 8:00 to 23:00. The service is accessible via telephone, email and, since 2021, through instant messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram.

Operated by INCIBE, the hotline of the Spanish SIC consists of two internal teams, namely, the incident handling team responsible for processing the child sexual abuse material (CSAM) reports and the coordination of the workflow with law enforcement authorities, as well as an administrative team which is in charge of the general management of the hotline and raising awareness about the service. As mentioned previously, the hotline of the Spanish SIC is not able to analyse reports of child sexual abuse or exploitation materials (CSAM/CSEM) due to the restrictive regulations in this field in Spain. As such they collaborate with the Cybercrime Prosecutors Office for the handling of the reports. 

Further information about the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre as well as the Spanish Safer Internet Centre can be found on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) public portal, including links to their national websites and other contact information. Similar information can be found on the BIK portal for all Safer Internet Centres in Europe

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