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