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ITU Opening Remarks: Internet Governance Forum
Child Online Protection Best Practice
 Hyderabad, India  03 December 2008 
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning,

I am delighted to contribute to this Best Practice Forum on “Child Online Protection” and to briefly present the activities of the International Telecommunication Union in this domain.

The spread of Information and Communication Technologies has brought enormous benefit, to society, boosting economic growth, improving education and providing greater efficiency in business and government processes. Young people have an especially important role to play in the Information Society, both as potential beneficiaries and as future drivers of ICT development. However, as the number of children and young people accessing the Internet increases, so, too, does the likelihood that they will be exposed to inappropriate websites or encounter harmful situations online.

According to recent surveys, over 60% of children and teenagers talk in chat rooms on a daily basis. Three in four children online are willing to share personal information about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services and one in five children will be targeted by a predator or pedophile each year. Sites promoting child pornography, violence in games, and illegal content, are just a few examples of the risks they face.

With few coordinated campaigns addressing the issue of child online protection, it is important to develop an integrated, coordinated global approach in order to be effective in addressing the problem of child online safety.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) called for strengthened action to protect children from online abuse and also called upon the ITU to build confidence and security in the use of ICTs. In accordance with this mandate the ITU created the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, and within this framework is committed to connecting the world responsibly. Consequently we consider the protection of children online as a priority.

In June of this year ITU called on all countries to implement the number 116 111 for child helplines around the world. Data from Child Helpline International (CHI) shows that children and youngsters made more than 10.5 million calls to child helplines during each of the years 2005 and 2006. Child helplines have become an important mechanism for children to obtain support, counselling, referral and intervention.

Child helplines have become a lifeline for vulnerable children in many countries. Having a single number that will work everywhere will benefit children in need around the world. As the number becomes embedded in the global consciousness, more and more children will profit.

In the last few weeks ITU launched its “Child Online Protection” (COP) initiative which was strongly endorsed by its Member States. The key objectives of this initiative are to:
  • Identify the key risks and vulnerabilities to children online
  • Create awareness of the risks and issues
  • Develop practical tools to help governments, organizations, law enforcement and educators minimize those risks
  • Share knowledge and experience while facilitating international partnerships to define and implement concrete initiatives
The COP initiative provides a platform for global cooperation where different constituencies can share views and develop best practices. ITU will coordinate efforts to protect children online by collaborating with governments, industry, educators, law enforcement and child experts.

ITU’s global Membership, long history in facilitating standardization, and expertise in ICTs and global development work, makes it a focal point for coordinating partners worldwide to tackle the important issue of child online protection.

We know that getting agreement on how best to tackle these issues will be a complex process that will have to take different cultural viewpoints into account. It is therefore important that we push ahead and share our concerns, so as to develop the necessary measures to ensure that the world’s children can benefit safely from today’s new technologies.

 

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Updated : 2008-12-04