On May 12, 2015, I attended the Family Online Safety Institute’s 9th European Forum in the Google offices in Brussels. As a consultant working on the ENABLE project (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments), I was thrilled to hear so many people discussing the project and mentioning well wishes for the future. Below you will find a summary of the event (you can also view the summary directly here.)
“Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF provided the keynote address on the digital rights of the child. She talked about the different approaches that are needed throughout the developing world where the challenges include access to the Internet, parents who lack skills and knowledge of online risks and the corresponding challenges. Ways in which to protect these children online include peer-to-peer education rather than through the home or in schools. She emphasized that changes that are made to the ways that children access the Internet in Europe, and the content that they consume, will have a global impact.
David Miles, FOSI, moderated the Safety by Design panel. Participants from Orange, Twitter, Facebook and EU Kids Online talked about the ways in which their companies think about safety and privacy throughout the process of creating new products and how they respond to feedback from users. Patricia Carters from Twitter highlighted the need for safety by reaction as well as safety by design. Orange’s work on creating a better Internet for kids was discussed in addition to the ways in which industry collaborates in the field of online safety. Jos de Haan from EU Kids Online reiterated that conversations between parents and children are the most effective way to ensure that children have safe experience online; there are limits to what can be expected of technology.
Jennifer Hanley, FOSI, led the conversation about the importance of creating positive content for kids. Patricia Manson of DG Connect outlined the European Commission’s commitment to the initiative. Google and Mind Candy talked about the ways that they create content for younger audiences and some of the challenges, while David Wright of Southwest Grid for Learning briefed the audience on the ENABLE project and their plans for a hackathon. Ways in which technology can be incorporated into education, and the importance of creating content for disabled children were also explored. Empowering children through teaching them digital skills was emphasized throughout the discussion.
Leo Kelion, BBC, Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, CDT and Pat Walshe, GSMA, discussed the future of online safety. The Internet of Things, connected cars, artificial intelligence and virtual reality all featured as topics in the final panel of the day, and how these things will impact privacy and other aspects of connected life in the future.
Throughout the forum, attendees heard about the European approach to online safety and privacy, but expert speakers were also able to place the discussions in a global context and relate the challenges and risks to children’s experiences around the world.”