Protecting children from harmful online content

The fact that 60 per cent of 9-15 year olds go online nearly every day and access on-demand video services may not be surprising for EU policy makers. However, the fact that during the time spent on these services children are increasingly exposed to harmful content should be an immediate call to action for all.

Acknowledging online risks, the CULT Committee of the European Parliament called for children's protection online in the latest Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) reform, voting on an updated proposal on 25 April 2017. Committee MEPs (and in particular MEP Sabine VERHEYEN and MEP Petra Kammerevert, who were the rapporteurs) advocated tightening up the child protection provisions of EU rules on audiovisual media services and also those on advertising and promoting European audiovisual works. Their ideas still need to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole, however. The European Parliament will decide whether to open inter-institutional talks for the final approval of the AVMSD legislation, based on the committee proposals, during a meeting in Strasbourg on 15 May 2017. The Council plans to adopt its negotiating mandate on 23 May 2017.

MEP Sabine VERHEYEN (EPP, DE) explained that, in the proposed AVMSD revision, protecting minors from content that may be harmful such as violence, pornography and hatred is a priority. According to the European Parliament press release, committee MEPs agreed that video-sharing platforms will have to take corrective measures if users flag any content as inciting violence, hatred or terrorism. To this end, these platforms would need to put in place an easy-to-use mechanism allowing users to report content and be informed of measures taken. MEPs also propose banning advertising and product placement for tobacco, electronic cigarettes and alcohol in children's TV programmes and video-sharing platforms.

The proposed legislation also includes new quotas on TV advertising and an increased quota for European works in on-demand platform catalogues to 30 per cent from the previous figure of 20 per cent proposed by the European Commission. MEP Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE) declared: "To increase quotas for video-on-demand offers does not necessarily ensure a stimulation of new European audiovisual content, but it is a clear EU policy signal. Such a quota should be achievable and should not be an undue burden on anybody".

Therefore, under this directive, platforms have to react to these issues, working under the regime of co- and self-regulation. Another example of an EU self-regulation initiative on this topic has been the Alliance to better protect minors online. For Safer Internet Day 2017, the Alliance presented a statement of purpose at a high-level event in Brussels at which Insafe Youth Ambassadors and Safer Internet Centres representatives participated.

Through the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) line of work, we have been actively raising awareness on the importance of a correct understanding of the audiovisual media content to which children and young people have access to. One example is the previous BIK bulletin edition focusing on online advertising where we also listened to the voice of a young YouTuber explaining the link between youth entrepreneurship and digital technology. For more resources addressing audiovisual media services and content, have a look at the BIK Resource gallery and the Guide to online services.

For more information on the procedural file for the AVMSD, see the European Parliament Legislative Observatory. In addition, the European Parliament has published a briefing on the AVMSD dossier, explaining the legislation in process and pointing towards the next steps expected.

Related news

Online pornography is UK parents' most widely shared worry

  • Awareness
  • 27/12/2018
  • UK Safer Internet Centre

The most widely acknowledged concern among parents is exposure of their children to online pornography according to recent research. A collaborative study was conducted with the University of Plymouth by South West Grid for Learning, as part of its work within the UK Safer Internet Centre.

What is Google doing for my child's sexual education?

  • Awareness
  • 12/09/2018
  • Portuguese Safer Internet Centre

The easy access to pornographic content offered by search engines to anyone, including young children, is one the main concerns of parents nowadays. Teresa Sofia Castro, post-doctoral researcher in Educational Technology at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, recounts her research interviews with children on the topic, and suggests some guidelines for parents.

Audiovisual Media Services Directive - recent developments of the EU legislation

"The media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. Instead of sitting in front of the family TV, millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices. Global internet video share in consumer internet traffic is expected to increase from 64 per cent in 2014 to 80 per cent by 2019", informed the European Commission in a press release issued on 26 April 2018.

Internet Safety Strategy: The UK's new Green Paper

  • Awareness
  • 18/10/2017
  • John Carr, eSafety expert

The UK Government recently published its new consultation document: Internet Safety Strategy. This Green Paper marks a step to "developing a coordinated, strategic approach to online safety". Here, online safety expert John Carr gives his first reactions.

Commission reports on Member States' measures to combat child sexual abuse online

On 16 December 2016, the European Commission adopted two reports on the measures taken by Member States to combat the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

New EU rules on data protection approved at the European Parliament

  • News
  • 14/04/2016
  • BIK team

Today, the European Parliament has adopted new EU data protection legislation replacing the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. Proposed by the European Commission in 2012 and agreed upon by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in December 2015, the new legislation has designed a set of rules providing citizens with more information and control over their own private information in the digital age, including protecting and expanding the scope of the right to be forgotten ruling in law. Additionally, the legislation aims to ease the process of setting up companies envisaging to strengthen the development of the Digital Single Market.

CSAM | A terminology note

Words matter. What are we talking about? Serious crime, serious definition, INHOPE's partners at INTERPOL rightly say.