Brian O Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology, EU Kids Online Children and Communication. Rights, Democracy and Development.

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1 Talk Show: The Media as a Tool for Social Inclusion Public Policy for Children and Communication Brian O Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology, EU Kids Online Children and Communication. Rights, Democracy and Development. March 6-8, 2012

2 Promote or Protect? A legacy of concern about role of media in children s lives Yet, also a recognition of the positive and essential role it plays An area for public policy and intervention Promote or Protect? Perspectives on Media Literacy and Media Regulations. Yearbook 2003 Cecilia von Feilitzen, Ulla Carlsson Nordicom/UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media

3 Children and the communications sphere Until recently, no competency within European Union Treaties to address issues affecting children In part, children and communication has raised the issue of the wider visibility of children and rights (Amsterdam Treaty 1997, Daphne project) New policies for audiovisual and information services in late 1990s Child protection and safety in legislation Self- and co-regulatory schemes for media organisations Emphasis on the role of the independent media regulator

4 Regulating and the media environment Aim of media policy: to safeguard public interests, such as cultural and linguistic diversity, the protection of minors and consumer protection. European Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) (2010) as principal legal instrument A key driver of policy: creating a single market for broadcasting services, programmes and advertising Beginning with the Television Without Frontiers Directive (1987) and Council of Europe Convention on Transfrontier Television (1989) Does not distinguish between commercial and public broadcasting

5 Freedom of Expression European Convention on Human Rights Article 10:... freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. However, exercise of this freedom carries duties and responsibilities: may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the protection of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

6 Controls over programme content Protection of minors in television broadcasting (Art. 27 AVMSD): Member states must make sure that broadcasters under their jurisdiction: do not include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence. This provision shall extend to other programmes which are likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally see or hear such broadcasts.

7 Graduated Regulation Source: European Commission Audiovisual Media Policies m 7

8 Advertising Commercial communication includes: Television advertising Sponsorship Teleshopping Product placement Protection of Minors and commercial communication Article 9(1): must not cause physical or moral harm to minors must not directly exploit minors inexperience or credulity must not encourage minors to pressurise parents to make a purchase. Further, audiovisual commercial communications for alcohol must not be aimed at minors or encourage excessive alcohol consumption

9 Co-protection / Co-regulation Recommendation on Protection of Minors and Human Dignity (1998 and 2006) Member States should consider the following: promoting measures to combat all illegal activities harmful to minors on the Internet; drawing up codes of conduct in cooperation with professionals and regulatory authorities at national and Community level; encouraging the audiovisual and on-line information services industry to avoid and combat all discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, without infringing freedom of expression or of the press; the introduction of measures regarding the online right of reply or equivalent remedies and actions to enable minors' responsible use of audiovisual and on-line information services, in particular through media literacy.

10 Children s rights and the digital environment Globally, Information Society policy has tended to emphasise a competitive knowledge economy balanced with benefits for citizens Children s rights figure unevenly in the promotion of internet development and governance (although see Tunis Commitment at WSIS 2005, Council of Europe 2006) As each country gains mass internet access, online risks (pornography, hate, violence etc.) are initially unrestricted, while provision for children is initially low Early regulatory responses were often heavy-handed and thus highly contested A key distinction has emerged between regulating illegal risks, and regulating or otherwise managing risks which are inappropriate or harmful to children Also, growing recognition of diversity of governance structures already in existence for the internet

11 Children s rights off/online UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Consideration of children s rights centres on the 3 P s of protection, provision, promotion Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography international legislation outlawing online child abuse images The Oslo Challenge, (UNICEF 1999) recognises the media and information environment as a relevant context for the realisation of children s rights EC Communication Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child (2006), An EU Strategy for Youth (2009), An EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child (2011) Recent initiatives from OECD The protection of children online (2010), ITU Child Online Protection, EC Safer Internet Programme, ECPAT, UNICEF, etc. Given actions from DG JUST, EAC & CNECT, valuable call from EP Committee on Culture and Education for a single framework directive on the rights of minors in the digital world

12 Protection Rights of protection against all forms of abuse and neglect (Art. 19), including against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (Art. 34), and other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child s welfare (Art. 36) Efforts to prevent online child abuse images, sexual grooming, child trafficking Protection from material injurious to the child s well-being (Art. 17), arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation (Art.16) and right of child to preserve his or her identity (Art. 8) Proving harder to manage (for firms, and for users) re: online reputational risks, intrusions of privacy, cyberbullying, pornography, personal data mis/use etc

13 Provision Children s rights to recreation and leisure as appropriate to their age (Art. 31), to an education that will support the development of their full potential (Art. 28) and prepare them for responsible life in a free society (Art. 29) Variable efforts to enable e-learning and digital skills/citizenship can be ill-defined, expensive, and tend to exacerbate not ameliorate existing inequalities Recognition of the important function performed by the mass media encourages production of diverse material of social and cultural benefit to the child (incl. minority/indigenous groups,) to promote the social and moral well-being of the child (Art. 17); recognises limiting provisions to children s rights to free expression (Art. 13) and parents responsibility for their upbringing (Art.18), Task is to stimulate the market, but provision is expensive, and thus heavily commercial, while efforts to protect tend to restrict child s freedom of expression

14 Participation Since in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration (Art. 3), participation rights include the right of children to be consulted in all matters affecting them (Art. 12), freedom of expression (Art. 13, the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice ), the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 14) and the rights to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly (Art. 15). The right to be consulted is increasingly embedded in the structures of public and civil society organisations. Otherwise children s participation rights are little recognised, often undermined by efforts to protect. Evidence shows children s online experiences are narrower, less creative or participatory than hoped.

15 Persistent challenges As the governance landscape matures within a multi-stakeholder framework and as children s rights are more recognised (see EC Better Internet Strategy for Kids ), there remain key challenges to establishing and promoting children s rights online: Definition: what is a risk, its extent and severity, its relation to harm, cultural factors Evidence: usually insufficient, mainly in Global North, quickly dated, little longitudinal Principles: often clashing priorities between market liberalisation and public interests, and between adult freedom of expression and child rights to protection Jurisdiction: global internet, national regulations, legal uncertainties, migrating risks, lack of trusted bodies, difficulties of enforcement Coordination: policy is fragmented and the digital landscape is changing fast In Europe, the preferred solution is already-existing legislation, plus selfregulation (of uncertain effectiveness) for internet-specific challenges

16 Thank you.. EU Kids Online is a multi-national research collaboration. Reports and findings can be freely accessed from:

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