The meeting kicked-off with a stakeholder roundtable which aimed to hear from national stakeholders and strategic partners about their current activities and collaboration with the national SICs. For Safer Internet Centre Greece, the following partners were present:
- Maria Spyraki, who is a Member of the European Parliament as well as the Advisory Board of the Greek SIC, emphasised the importance of the Greek SIC in the national context and noted that the Centre cooperates with the Greek Ministry of Education to provide information and support about the internet habits of approximately 26,000 young users in the country. She also noted that she cooperated with the Greek SIC in the organisation of a series of face-to-face events prior to the COVID-19 pandemic where 570 pupils from 43 schools competed with projects related to addressing the issue of cyberbullying. There are further plans with the Greek SIC to continue organising such events and dialogue with pupils to address the topics of disinformation and misinformation. It was also added by the representatives of the Greek SIC that Maria Spyraki’s support to the Greek SIC will also be critical in the promotion of the BIK+ strategy in the national level.
- Theodore Damianidis, the Product Marketing Manager at Google Greece, noted that a Google programme entitled Be Internet Awesome was developed by the company to establish a safe online environment for children and young people have been successfully running 22 countries across Europe and it was introduced in Greece in 2021 to run under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. The Greek SIC collaborates with Google on various initiatives within this programme while Google is a member of the SICs Advisory Board.
- The Cyber Crime Division of the Greek Police, which was represented in this meeting by Dr George Nakos, collaborates with several national bodies, such as the National Intelligence Service, various telecommunications commissions, gaming commissions, universities, and financial institutions, in addition to international actors such as Interpol and Europol, among others. The division operates a call centre entitled Cyber Alert (11188) to assist the general public about crimes that take place online and provides awareness-raising lectures and workshops to citizens, which took place online during the pandemic. They also organise conferences to celebrate Safer Internet Day (SID) and run an e-learning portal called Cyberkid.gr for younger audiences. In this regard, the Greek SIC plays an important role in the promotion of these materials through its own channels. Furthermore, the Cyber Crime Division participates in the Advisory Board of the Greek SIC and mainly collaborates with the hotline (SafeLine.gr) in the processing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) reports. They also provide a support letter to the Greek SIC on a yearly basis.
- Represented in this meeting by Konstantinos Magkos, the National Cyber Security Authority (NCSA) of the Ministry of Digital Governance acts as the national competent authority for cybersecurity in Greece. The NCSA has been cooperating with the Greek SIC since the publication of the National Security Strategy in 2020. The partnership between the Greek SIC and the NCSA focuses mainly on raising awareness about cybersecurity and the dissemination of relevant educational materials which are targeted to the students of secondary education, teachers and parents. In the context of this collaboration, NCSA acts as the coordinator and facilitator while the Greek SIC works on the operational and technical aspects. A particularly significant example of the outcomes of the collaboration between the centre and the NCSA is a mini-site about internet scams hosted within the SIC’s website. This mini-site provides materials for learning about and protecting against such threats. Finally, they also collaborate with the Greek SIC in the organisations of various webinars and also events such as the Safer Internet Day (SID).
- The Greek SIC also cooperates with partners in academia. During this meeting, Ioannis Inglezakis, an Associate Professor at the School of Law in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, emphasised the importance and the value of the work conducted by the Greek SIC. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Greek SIC and he has assisted the SIC on topics such as GDPR and personal data. The SIC also consults him regarding relevant legislation, particularly related to issues reported to the hotline.
- Another academic partner of the Greek SIC, Michail Paraskevas, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Peloponnese. He is also the Vice President of the Institute of Computer Technology and Publications (CTI) and the coordinator of the Greek School Network. In this capacity, Michail Paraskevas supports and promotes the work of the Greek SIC, particularly through the various communications channels of the Greek School Network. As such, the actions and materials of the SIC reach whole school communities across the country more effectively.
During the stakeholder roundtable, the following partners were present for the Irish SIC:
- Media Literacy Ireland (MLI), represented in this meeting by Martina Chapman, is an informal alliance of organisations and individuals working together on a voluntary basis to promote media literacy in Ireland. Media Literacy Ireland is facilitated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) which is the media regulator in the country. MLI brings together a wide range of actors from sectors such as media, academia, online platforms, libraries and civil society. It fosters discussions, identifies gaps in media literacy supervision, and aims to bring stakeholders together to fill those gaps. As different media literacy issues become more prominent at different times, as such, different MLI members become active at different times. However, some core members such as the Irish awareness centre, Webwise, remain active and collaborate more frequently with the MLI.
- Ciarán Shanley is a senior policy analyst in the online safety team within the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media. He discussed the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, which was passing through the parliament at the time of this meeting. The bill dissolves the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and establishes a new regulatory body (Media Commission) in its place, transferring the functions to the new body. The bill also creates a regulatory framework for online safety. This regulatory framework is built upon two pillars: the scope of the content and the scope of the services to be regulated. In this context, the collaboration between the Department and the Irish SIC was acknowledged to be very important in terms of information exchange regarding the new bill and bringing pertinent issues to the attention of the legislators.
- Finally, Ana Niculescu of the Irish SIC’s hotline noted that the hotline operational procedures are agreed, approved and overseen by the Department of Justice. As such, they have a very close collaboration, in particular with the cybercrime unit. Furthermore, in September 2021, a new service was launched by the hotline to help young people and adults who have had their intimate images and videos shared online without their consent. This service was launched in conjunction with the Department of Justice and national law enforcement.
The meeting continued with the overview of the SIC structures and various activities they carry out. In this context, it was noted that the operations of the current Greek SIC consortium started in 2016 under the coordination of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH), which is one of the largest research centres in Greece with well-organised facilities. It has a reputation as a top-level research institution worldwide. Headquartered in Heraklion, Crete, FORTH comprises ten Research Institutes. The Greek SIC is part of the Computer Science Institute of FORTH.
There are three strands of operation within the Greek SIC. The awareness strand, SaferInternet4Kids.gr, has operated since 2016, the helpline (help-line.gr) has operated since 2012, and the hotline (SafeLine.gr) has operated since 2003.
The Irish SIC is a consortium of industry, education, child welfare and government partners that provides online safety awareness, hotline and helpline functions and activities for the Republic of Ireland. The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), the National Parents Council (NPC), and the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) are the partners in the consortium. Together, they operate an awareness node (Webwise by PDST), a hotline service (hotline.ie by ISPAI), and two helpline services (Childline by ISPCC and a parent/adult helpline by NPC).
In addition to an extensive update on the various awareness-raising activities organised by the SICs, some discussion focused on the organisations of their respective youth panels. In Greece, the youth panel consists of 27 members across the country, and it includes young people from small villages and islands to large cities, thus drawing a very comprehensive picture of the country. In terms of gender and age distribution, 18 of the panellists are girls while 9 are boys between the age 9 and 19 years old. In the past year, the Greek youth panel has met five times online. In these meetings, the young people are not only trained and educated in the prominent online safety topics, but also encouraged to become BIK Youth Ambassadors. They also discuss and brainstorm on how some of the activities and actions of the SIC – for instance, the SID celebrations – should be organised.
The Youth Panel of the Irish SIC consists of 35 students between the ages of 14 and 20 from across the country, who wish to voice their views and opinions about online safety issues affecting young people. The Youth Panel provides opportunities to have students’ views heard at national and European level, so that young people can have a real say on the issues that affect them. The Youth Panel meets throughout the academic year to discuss positive actions to undertake to promote the safer use of the internet and digital citizenship by young people. Many great opportunities have arisen for the young people due to being part of the youth panel. Some highlights of these include participation in the SID Ambassador Training and SID Awards competition, Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Panel, media Interviews and various conferences.
Further information about the Irish and Greek Safer Internet Centres more generally can be found on the SIC country profile page on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) public portal and via the Greek and Irish SIC websites.