In the latest phase of its two year old Child Online Protection Initiative the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is to look at the possibility of developing international telecommunications standards whose widespread application would help protect children from online threats.
The ITU's Child Online Protection (COP) initiative was launched in November 2008 as "a multi-stakeholder effort to bring together partners from all sectors of the global community to ensure a safe online experience for children everywhere."
In this latest development the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) has asked the ITU's security standardization study group, Study Group 17 (SG17), to investigate child protection in the online world.
The group will look at the possibility of developing interoperable standards to protect children online. The aim would be to develop a widely shared approach that could be promoted across the whole industry. The ITU has not given a timeframe for any concrete outcomes from SG17.
SG17 will evaluate what options and possibilities exist for real global coordinated and consistent action to protect children online, for example watch and warning and incident management regimes that would facilitate the gathering of threat information and its sharing among different players.
SG17 will also try to identify commonalities that span the different industry sectors (broadcasters, Internet, mobile) with the aim of developing codes of conduct to help ITU member states collaborate more effectively with the private sector/industry.
It will try to establish cooperative arrangements between government and the private sector/industry for sharing information and developing specific capabilities aimed at mitigating the risks and extending the potential of ICT usage by children.
The ITU lists the key objectives of its Child Online Protection initiative as being to: "identify risks and vulnerabilities to children in cyberspace; create awareness; develop practical tools to help minimize risk; share knowledge and experience."