The Czech Ministry of Interior in cooperation with the European Commission, organized a ministerial conference „Safer Internet for Children – fighting together against illegal content and conduct on-line’, held in Prague on April 20, 2009. The Czech Republic was represented by the Minister of Interior Ivan Langer and the Police President Oldřich Martinů.
The conference was dedicated to the process of improving cooperation of all stakeholders in the field of promoting safer internet and mobile communications, especially for children. To conclude with, participants adopted the Prague Declaration (pdf, 99 kB).
„International protection of children is one of the key Ministry of Interior priorities and we have paid increased attention to all related activities. One of our key ideas is the Prague declaration, which we drafted and presented to the conference participants. The Prague Declaration, which we adopted today, wishes to enhance cooperation of all stakeholders across Europe and establish conditions for safer use of the Internet by children’, said the Czech Minister of Interior Ivan Langer, and presented the flower symbolizing the Prague Declaration.„I drew inspiration from the nature in spring and I will use this flower to explain the idea behind our Declaration. In the centre, we have the child, and the petals symbolize activities to secure the child’s protection. The first petal represents the member states which bear responsibility for both political and legislative measures. In this respect, I very much welcome representatives of Switzerland and Norway, who decided to join the Prague Declaration. Our flower, in the spirit of the Czech Presidency motto ‘Europe without Barriers’ thus helped remove barriers not only among the member states, abut also the ‘27’ and the two countries which are not members of the Union. The second petal represents the European cooperation. The key stakeholders here are the European Commission and, primarily, EUROPOL and INTERPOL. The improved cooperation and coordination of individual member states will allow EUROPOL and INTERPOL to better detect and investigate for example criminal networks organizing child pornography. The rest of petals are equally important since they represent various institutions and organizations, such as industry associations, Internet Service Providers (ISP), mobile telephony providers, social networks, NGOs, or schools, which should ideally be in the front line of the Internet awareness rising among children‘.
One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the Safer Internet programme for 2009 – 2013, the budget of which is €55 million. This significant sum of money is, as explained by Richard Swetenham, a representative of the European Commission, dedicated to both awareness rising and activities to suppress illegal content and harmful conduct on-line, including improved policing.
The conference participants had an opportunity to attend several interesting workshops led or attended by remarkable speakers.
* Cyberbullying – Professor Georges Steffgen, University of Luxemburg, presented outcomes of a research targeting detection of cyberbullying and possible reactions to this phenomenon. The European Commission presented a video, which draws the public attention to the issue of cyberbullying via social networks.
* Self-regulation by mobile telephony providers – speakers presented outcomes of an agreement concluded between leading European providers and the European Commission on joint efforts in the field of protection of children using mobile telephones. One of the most significant provisions of the agreement is the parent control over the adult only content and the implementation of awareness rising campaigns for both children and their parents.
* Social networks – the European Commission presented data revealing that, in Europe only, social networks already have 41,7 million users. Only last year, their numbers rose by 35 per cent. It is estimated that in 2012, social networks will have over one hundred million users.
In the afternoon, participants concentrated primarily on the police cooperation. Pierre Reuland, a representative of INTERPOL, presented ICAD (the INTERPOL Child Abuse Image Database), which has, since 2001, helped protect over 750 children from 35 countries from sexual exploitation. Paul Durrant, a representative of the European Association of Internet Service Providers (EuroISPA), spoke on the role of telecommunication providers in the content filtering. The Czech Minister of Interior, Ivan Langer, says: „To detect perpetrators, we have to put together individual elements of the complex mosaic. We are like archaeologists looking for pieces of an ancient vase. To draw the complete picture, we have to secure cooperation of all stakeholders and, at the same time, make the best use of all elements of modern technology, which have the capacity to pull all pieces together‘.
Spokesperson for Czech Presidency of the EU, Ministry of the Interior