Alternatives to internet filtering

11 02 2009

Despite massive public opposition to ISP level internet filtering, the Government is pressing on with its internet filtering trials. We don’t yet know what the result of these trials will be, but the Europeans have developed an alternate approach to the issue of protecting children from harmful content online.

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day across the European Union. The European Commission has developed the Safe Internet Programme which has a budget of 55 million Euros, and which has been running since 2004.  According to its website, the programme is aimed at promoting:

safer use of the Internet and new online technologies, particularly for children, and to fight against illegal content and content unwanted by the end-user, as part of a coherent approach by the European Union

It aims to do this by co-funding projects to :

  • Increase public awareness;

  • Provide the public with a network of contact points for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyber bullying;

  • Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and involve children in creating a safer online environment;

  • Establish a knowledge base on new trends in the use of online technologies and their consequences for children’s lives.

The programme is impressive because it takes a cooperative rather than an imposed position upon website operators. This year’s theme was protection of children on social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace and You Tube. This cooperative approach has seen 17 of the leading social networking sites across the internet commit doing more to protect younger internet users.

Is this the solution to all our online child protection issues – not it isn’t but it is a different approach, and may help contribute to the debate on internet filtering.

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