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Child Protection Organisations Call For Greater Dialogue With Freedom Of Expression Advocates At IGF To Establish Collaborative Action

Published on: 13.11.07
Source: Press Release / Own Report

Following on from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon statement of the importance of protecting children online at the inaugural session of the second IGF in Rio, members of child protection organisations present have been active in contributing to the sessions of the Forum, demonstrating a range of ways in which various stakeholders can take practical steps to better protect children under the issue of internet governance.

Today, at the IGF workshops on protecting children against sexual exploitation through ICTs children’s organizations regretted that so few industry representatives and freedom of expression advocates were present. One representative from the industry underscored the need for face to face open dialogue around the regulatory measures being undertaken and proposed for child protection and the imperative to protect freedom of expression.

The workshops highlighted the work of NGOs and their collaboration with industry and government concerning online child safety. Increasingly NGOs are working with industry to develop self-regulatory frameworks which respond to public concerns regarding the risks and harms experienced by children in the online environment. However such initiatives appear to be limited to a few developed countries and only a small number of industry stakeholders. This signals that the value of such partnerships in shaping policies and programmes has yet to be recognized if the global challenge to end the exploitation of children through information and communication technologies is to be met.

David Butt, an ECPAT Board member and legal expert on child abuse cases says, The broad consensus across civil society, industry and government on the need to protect children from sexual exploitation online is of paramount importance. It provides a great opportunity for progress, but the challenge is for all sectors to build on this consensus constructively and comprehensively.

John Carr the Chair and spokesperson for Children’s Charities in the UK says, There is no necessary contradiction between the desire to protect children online and the desire to protect free speech online.

Margaret Moran a member of Parliament in the UK and Chair of EURIM says, Industry self regulation is desirable but it must have government support. At the same time legislative initiatives must be kept broad and flexible to respond to fast changing technologies.

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