Spain is working with eight other countries to strengthen the protection of children online from pornographic content

News - 2023.11.10

Spain has signed, together with eight other countries (Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), a declaration to promote global initiatives aimed at strengthening the protection of children online.

The declaration was signed at the Paris Peace Forum, the third edition of which is being held this Friday and Saturday (10-11 November) in Paris, where heads of state and leading international organisations are working with the private sector and civil society to develop multilateralism and collective action.

The commitment of the nine countries to strengthening the protection of children online is in line with the various major initiatives and measures taken in recent years to address this issue, such as the legal instruments and policies implemented to safeguard the rights and interests of children online in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In particular, the statement highlights the UK's Online Safety Act and the EU's Strategy on the Rights of the Child and Digital Services Act, initiatives that have provided international guidance on how to ensure a safe digital environment for children.

Protection from harmful content: pornography, cyber-bullying or abuse

The signatory countries express their determination to effectively strengthen the protection of children online, with a focus on highly effective privacy that ensures online verification and age assessment of minors, especially to prevent early exposure of minors to pornographic content.

In this respect, the initiatives, both legislative and policy measures, undertaken by different European countries and EU Member States together with the European Commission, the United Kingdom and the private sector are acknowledged as a benchmark for progress.

Consensus around the push for the protection of children online has been reached in the face of children's increasing exposure to harmful content, in particular adult-only pornographic content, cyber-bullying, content that leads to self-harming or violent behaviour.

There is also a focus on the prevention of content related to areas of increased exposure among children related to social and psychological problems, online sexual abuse, excessive data collection in the use of digital services and applications, as well as excessive screen usage.

One in three children globally has been exposed to pornographic content before the age of 12 and one third of children report being the target of cyberbullying. According to the latest available data, online child sexual abuse content almost doubled between 2017 and 2019.

Spain joins the Children Online Protection Laboratory

Spain has also joined the Children Online Protection Laboratory, created by France in 2022, which aims to explore, promote, develop and evaluate solutions that increase the safety of children online.

Among the priorities for the experiments to be conducted in 2024 is the fight against cyber-bullying in schools. The Lab works to exchange information, knowledge, experiences and practices, as well as to promote research to effectively address issues affecting children online.

In particular, it focuses on identifying effective technical, organisational or educational tools to ensure the protection of fundamental rights. To this end, Lab participants, including governments, civil society organisations and private companies, make a number of commitments.

Commitments include participation in laboratory activities and support, directly or indirectly, of experiments by participating in the selection and evaluation processes, as well as a commitment to take the results of experiments into account in the development of policies and good practices.

Participants also commit to support the development of frameworks, industry best practices and design principles for security and privacy.

The Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union is pushing for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence to preserve democratic rights and values in the new digital economy, including the protection of children with measures such as the establishment of watermarks to prevent identity theft and AI-related sexual crimes.

Non official translation