Event in the Italian Parliament marks Safer Internet Day 2017

How can politics intervene in preventing cyberbullying? Do you wake up at night to check your phone? Are you listening to YouTubers' suggestions? Do you think that the internet will be a safer place in 2017?

All these questions and many others tackling online safety for children and young people opened the discussions at the Safer Internet Day event organised by Telefono Azzurro (part of the Italian Safer Internet Centre consortium) on 6 February 2017 at the Italian Parliament in Rome.

With an audience composed of pupils, teachers, policy makers and other stakeholders in the field of online safety, the morning session was opened by Prof. Ernesto Caffo, President of Telefono Azzurro, who highlighted the importance of fostering discussions and actions for a better internet. His remarks were complemented by Marina Sereni, Vice President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Sandra Cioffi, Vice President of Telefono Azzurro and Member of the Italian Parliament, who also emphasised the significance of Safer Internet Day and the ongoing discussions at both European and national level on the safe use of the internet.

During a session moderated by Riccardo Luna, Editor-in-Chief at AGI (an Italian Journalism Agency), multiple voices of the Italian political sphere contributed to a fruitful discussion: the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Regional Affairs, along with representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, University and Research, and Economical Development engaged in vivid debates about Italian policy making in terms of online safety for children. Moreover, Members of the European Parliament also contributed to the discussion, representing the voice of the Culture and Education Committee, MEP Silvia Costa and the Intergroup of Children's Rights, Caterina Chinnici.

Experts in privacy law and representatives from Italian authorities (including data protection, children and adolescents, and communications), along with regional authorities dealing with digital services, all showcased best practices and lessons learnt from their experiences in dealing with the safe use of the internet for children and young people. The industry perspective was provided by the representative of Facebook Italy who emphasised the multiple efforts and actions undertaken to constantly promote the safe use of Facebook's online services.

On the importance of relating with young people, the director Ivan Cotroneo was invited to bring onto the spotlight lessons learnt from "Il bacio" (The kiss), his film tackling bullying and discrimination, actively debated upon also by Telefono Azzurro throughout 2016.

Closing the morning session, Senator Elena Ferrara reminded attendees about the parliamentary work and discussion on approving the legislation tackling the protection of minors against the cyberbullying phenomenon.

In the afternoon session, parallel table discussions followed, focusing on the two major topics of data protection and online gaming. The first table discussion tackled new challenges for the protection of minors online ("Minori in rete: nuove sfide nella tutela degli adolescenti"), bringing together various stakeholders and experts in the field. From Italian authorities (including Data Protection, Police and Judiciary institutions), the European Commission, up to industry (Microsoft, Samsung and TIM), all attending stakeholders debated upon age verification, data protection, age of consent and related topics including sexting or sextortion.

This first table discussion counted also on the participation of a representative from the coordinating team of the Insafe Network, asserting the network's constant work on awareness raising, helplines and youth panels, with examples such as promoting media literacy in order to empower children and young people to adopt good media habits. For more information on the focus on media literacy buy the Insafe Network, see the sixth edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin on media and information literacy in Europe.

The second table discussion considered gaming and the use of money online ("Potenzialita e criticita della rete: gaming e uso del denaro online"). The objective of this table was to discuss the impacts of gaming, gambling and the responsible use of money online, identifying guidelines for prevention of such risks online. Among the panelists were national and European experts coming from research, law, representatives of the private sector (including gambling organisations) as well as representatives of Italian authorities in the field (Senator member of the financial and treasury committee, Data Protection Authority) and the European Economic and Social Committee.

On the occasion of SID 2017, by working together for a better internet, Telefono Azzurro has also published an e-book "Il nostro post(o) nella rete" ("Our post/place in the network"), supporting parents to understand both risks and opportunities online.

Furthermore, on Safer Internet Day itself, Telefono Azzurro is actively participating in a SID event organised by the Generazioni Connesse consortium, where the first National Day against bullying and cyberbullying in school is celebrated. This event, taking place on 7 February 2017 in Rome, brings together young people, numerous experts in the field of online safety and policy makers. It can be followed on social media with the hashtags #SID2017, #SaferInternetDay, #SICItalia and #UnNodoBlu.

***Update to article***

After conducting interviews with panellists and stakeholders attending the event, Telefono Azzurro have published a series of videos on its YouTube channel relating to Safer Internet Day. From addressing experts with online safety questions, to interviews conducted by youth representatives, all videos are available here (in Italian).

Find out more about the work of the Italian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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