Industry coalition's 'safer Internet' plan criticized on all sides

The work of the European Commission-sponsored Coalition for Safer Internet has been branded both vague and dangerous

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  IT Management

Although EDRi found the project's output ranged from "the irrelevant to the incoherent and even the dangerous," it saw some useful developments, including plans for a Commission-funded, searchable database of current practice, giving up-to-date information about companies' privacy settings.

EDRi also praised the working group on parental controls. "The final document notes that numerous tools appeared on the market since the start of the project, but stressed the limitations of technical tools and said that the solution lies in a balance between tools and education of parents and children. Nokia's insistence on permanent review of experience and evidence was a very welcome exception to the approach followed by the CEO Coalition more generally," said EDRi.

A technical task force involving Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Vodafone and others will work in 2013 "to align content systems and ensure that devices will be able to determine the age-classification of materials". Meanwhile the Commission will set up a Corporate Responsibility platform to monitor the results of the coalition and merge it with other self-regulatory streams.

The average age for first going online in Europe is seven. 38 percent of 9 to 12 year olds who are online say they have a social networking profile, in spite of age restrictions imposed by some social networks. More than 30 percent of children who go online do so from a mobile device, and 26 percent via game consoles.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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