ITU launches initiative to protect children online
During the High-Level Segment of Council 2008, ITU officially launched a programme to safeguard children, who are the most vulnerable users of the Internet. The Child Online Protection (COP) initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the international community with the aim of creating a safe online experience for children everywhere.
In a concerted effort to make cyberspace safe for young people to work, learn and play, ITU is working with other United Nations agencies, including the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).
Other organizations that have come forward to support the initiative include eWWG, a consortium of 37 international companies and universities. “I am extremely optimistic about the potential impact that the COP initiative will have. By focusing our collective efforts on making the online world safe for children, we have the opportunity to really make a difference, especially in developing countries,” commented Salma Abbasi, eWWG founder and Chairman.
Companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Telecom Italia have also pledged their support, as well as the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the GSM Association. Agencies such as the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, INTERPOL, and Save The Children are also fully behind the initiative. “INTERPOL is committed to fighting Internet-related crimes against children, which it has set as one of the top priorities for international policing,” said Kristin Kvigne, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Human Beings Sub-Directorate.
While there are many projects in developed countries to protect children online, there are very few in the developing world. COP’s key objectives are to:
- identify key risks for children in cyberspace
- create awareness of the issues
- develop and promote practical tools to minimize risk
- share knowledge and experience
- facilitate international partnerships.
In 2009, ITU plans to hold the first World Congress on Child Online Protection, in Geneva.