14.01.2022

ITU discusses international initiatives to protect children on the Internet

ITU discusses international initiatives to protect children on the Internet

The decision to establish a Working Group to share experience and promote work on this topic is enshrined in Resolution 1306 of the ITU Council, adopted in October 2009. The first meeting of the Group took place in March 2010 in Geneva. This initiative is more relevant than ever today, representing a uniting positive agenda for all parties interested in creating a safe online environment that allows empowering children and respecting their rights.

Children and young people face multiple risks and threats online today, such as privacy breaches, cyberbullying, misinformation, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and many more. As children spend more time online than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these risks are increasing significantly. As recently reported by the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, I. Johansson, Internet providers and social networks recorded 22 million offenses related to sexual abuse of children in 2020, compared with 17 million in 2019.

Against this background, the efforts of international organizations, states, business and civil society aimed at creating a safe online environment for children are of particular importance. One such notable initiative was the development and publication in 2020, within the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D), of “Guidelines for policy makers on child online protection”. 

This year's meeting of the Working Group reviewed a record-breaking number of submissions by participants as part of an exchange of experiences on child protection in the digital environment, including with regard to the application of the aforementioned Guidelines. Representatives of UNICEF, Australia, Albania, Brazil, Hungary, Mauritius, Malta, Morocco, Nigeria, UAE, Russia and a number of international alliances and partnerships spoke about their achievements. The Center for Global IT-Cooperation, as a member of ITU-D, also shared the best Russian practices in this area. Director of the Center Vadim Glushchenko in his speech spoke about the creation of the Alliance for the Protection of Children in the Digital Environment, which included representatives of large domestic media holdings, telecommunications and IT companies. The purpose of the Alliance is to create a safe digital environment in which children will have the opportunity for creative and professional growth, socialization and safe communication.

“The Center for Global IT-Cooperation is a member of the Alliance Advisory Group and has taken on the role of a bridge for cooperation with foreign experts in the field of child safety on the Internet and promotes the Alliance's ideas on international platforms. We had recently joined the Digital Ethics of Childhood Charter. This document contains the basic values ​​and principles designed to unite, on a voluntary basis, stakeholders representing the state, business, public institutions and civic organizations with a common mission - to create a protected and supportive digital environment for children. We invite members of the ITU community to join our efforts and also join the Charter,” said Vadim Glushchenko, emphasizing that the document is open to foreign players.