(10/02/2009) 17 leading web firms have signed for the first time a European agreement to improve the safety of under 18s who use social networking sites. These include Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Giovani.it, Google/YouTube, Hyves, Microsoft Europe, Myspace, Nasza-klaza.pl, Netlog, One.lt, Skyrock, StudiVZ, Sulake/Habbo Hotel, Yahoo!Europe, and Zap.lu
. Social networking sites are an emerging social and economic phenomenon, attracting 41.7 million regular users in Europe and changing the way we interact with each other on the Web.
The use of social networks has grown over the past year by 35% in Europe and is expected to more than double to 107.4 million users by 2012. To make sure that social networks continue to grow, young users need to feel safe when expanding their networks or sharing any personal information. The agreement signed today in Luxembourg at the Safer Internet Day organised by the European Commission will empower teenagers to deal with potential risks they may face online, like cyberbullying or revealing personal information.
To read the full press release click here
Safer social networking: the choice of self-regulation
Misuse of new technologies can present many risks to children and young people, such as cyber-bullying, grooming, privacy violation or exposure to harmful content (pornography, racism, etc). European legislation already exists to protect young people online (protection of personal data). And yet, technology is changing our societies so fast that it is difficult for legislators to keep up. The adoption of new rules takes time, especially when they have to be agreed by 27 countries.
This is why, in the interest of online child safety, the European Commission encourages those who create new interactive tools to adopt rules and principles themselves (self-regulation). The Commission's role is to bring all the relevant players (industry, associations, etc) together for them to agree on these rules and principles.
Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU
In 2008, the Commission convened 18 of Europe's major social networks as well as researchers and child welfare organizations, to form a European Social Networking Task Force to discuss guidelines for the use of social networking sites by children. These guidelines were to be adopted voluntarily by the European industry.
"The Safer Social Networking Principles for EU"
will be signed February 10, 2009 during Safer Internet Day, in Luxembourg.
"The Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" have been developed by social networking services providers in consultation with the European Commission, as part of its Safer Internet Plus Programme, and a number of NGOs, to provide good practice recommendations for the providers of social networking and other user interactive sites, to enhance the safety of children and young people using their services."
To read the full text of principals click here