UN releases new guidelines for child online protection

“These guidelines, prepared in partnership with the Child Online Protection initiative, respond to substantial advances in technology to assess and respond to children’s needs in the online world,” said Hamadoun I. Touré, the Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).“The revolution in online communications have created tremendous opportunities for young people today, but at the same time they have been exposed to new risks in cyberspace,” Mr. Touré said. The Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection provide advice on how the information and communications technology (ICT) industry can help promote safety for children using the Internet or any technologies or devices that can connect to it, as well as guidance on how to enable responsible digital citizenship, learning and civic participation. The updated version provides guidance specifically aimed at companies that develop, provide or make use of ICTs. One of the partners of the initiative, Simon Milner, Policy Director, Facebook, said in a press release issued jointly by ITU and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF): “Children’s online safety is a responsibility we all share: from those who care for and teach children, to the companies who provide online services, to policy-makers.“Our goal at Facebook is to provide the most accessible online tools for teens as well as to enable them to seek help and advice when they need it,” Mr. Milner said. “The Guidelines provide a framework for company action on children’s online safety, so we appreciated the opportunity to contribute our expertise to their development. They are practical, evidence-based and should be impactful.” The Guidelines call for a comprehensive response to the online risks facing children and partnerships across multiple stakeholder groups, including governments, companies, civil society, parents and educators.“Innovation by the private sector has helped drive the digital revolution. The same spirit of innovation is key to expanding the reach of that revolution to the most disadvantaged children – and to keeping all children safer, more connected, and more engaged as digital citizens of the future,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. The Guidelines were developed in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. They can be accessed online, together with selected case studies at http://www.itu.int/en/cop/Pages/guidelines.aspx.

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