IGF 2022 WS #318 Gen-Z in Cyberspace: Are We Safe Online?

Time
Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (13:50 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (15:20 UTC)
Room
CR4

Organizer 1: Dalili Nuradli, NetMission Academy
Organizer 2: Stella Anne Ming Hui Teoh, Internet Society IGF Youth Ambassador Program
Organizer 3: Bea Guevarra, NetMission.Asia
Organizer 4: Azam Ariff, Netmission.Asia

Speaker 1: Jennifer Chung, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Mauricia Abdol, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Pavel Farhan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Aris Ignacio, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Moderator

Levy Syanseke, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Stella Anne Ming Hui Teoh, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Rapporteur

Dalili Nuradli, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Format

Break-out Group Discussions - Round Tables - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the current frameworks and the best practices in ensuring child online safety policies are practical to be followed in different regions? 2. What are the best suggestions to update the current frameworks governing child online safety? 3. How should we develop a mechanism to ensure the stakeholders are fulfilling their responsibility to ensure child online safety? - Youth - Civil society - Technical experts 4. What are the social media companies' (BigTech) accountability when it comes to their minor user safety issues?

Connection with previous Messages: This session proposal is connected to the 7 IGF 2021 message which is the Inclusive Internet Ecosystems and Digital Cooperation(bullet point 4): This is due to the fact that the call for the establishment of a global network would need to consider best practices that future mediators can adopt based on the case study of .KIDS Ergo, this proposal aims take the case study of .KIDS and discuss the effectiveness and community-driven aspect of the Dotkids Guiding Principles to create a child-friendly Internet via the top level domain (TLD) namespace .KIDS endeavours to have all content within the .KIDS TLD space to be child-friendly which includes four aspects that are; (a) Prohibition of Illegal and Inappropriate Materials; (b) Privacy; (c) Rights to Survival; and (d) Best Efforts to provide kids-friendly content and services.

SDGs

4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: This idea endorses the 4th SDG, which is to guarantee inclusive and equitable quality education and promote opportunities for lifelong learning for everyone. This is due to the fact that this plan furnished the youngsters with information vis-a-vis cybersecurity and online safety in cyberspace. Children's cybersecurity and online safety in cyberspace can only be promoted with the collaboration of several parties. In addition, regardless of the kid's gender, colour, religion, or socioeconomic background, every child will be bestowed upon with the same cybersecurity and internet safety instruction, which will further eradicate inequities in non-formal education. This will not only dramatically increase the number of children who can read and write, but also the overall number of youngsters who are digitally literate, especially in the areas of cybersecurity and online safety will skyrocket. In addition, this proposal upholds the 5th SDG on the achievement of gender equality and the emancipation of all women and girls. Albeit the fact that the focal point of this plan is on cybersecurity and online safety for children, it must be foregrounded that females are more at risk to sexual exploitation in cyberspace than boys. As everyone has the right to participate in all decision-making processes, girls' full and effective participation and leadership abilities will be bolstered via IGF floor discussions. The discourse will encompass their prayers and ideas, which will be weighed and amplified. The empowerment of girls will be reinforced by the use of technology, such as the promotion of child online safety on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, when they are more digitally fluent about safe cyberspace activities. Last but not least, this idea connects to the 16th SDG, which is to foster peaceful and inclusive communities for sustainable development, ensure access to justice for everyone, and establish effective, responsible, and inclusive institutions at all levels. People worldwide, particularly children in cyberspace, must be free from fear of all sorts of violence and feel secure while going about their daily lives, regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. For the advancement of the SDGs, this proposal may create a platform that can give inclusive and high-quality cybersecurity and online safety education to children. To achieve peace, justice, and inclusion, this approach seems successful in urging all parties, including governments, civil society, and communities, to establish permanent solutions to minimise violence, provide justice, fight corruption, and assure inclusive participation at all times. Children are free to voice their opinions on cybersecurity and online safety and are permitted to participate in decisions affecting their cyber safety. Everyone, not only children, is subject to all rules regarding cybersecurity and online safety for children, and these laws must be administered without any kind of prejudice, regardless of age. If there is a dispute over the protection of children in cyberspace, it must be handled by means of effective political and legal structures.

Description:

There are many knowledge gaps regarding the security challenges posed by the Internet, particularly in parts of the world where its penetration is much lower. In parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States of America, significant work has been done to analyse children's online behaviour, and investments have been made in strategies to address and prevent abuse. However, in many low- and middle-income child protection systems and responses, there has been less research into online child abuse and exploitation. As part of a broader child protection agenda, policymakers should prioritise raising awareness of online abuse and exploitation. This session should focus on insights concerning protection practices that must be taken by relevant stakeholders in order to ensure an improved and updated online child safety regulation. Protection practices must include measures and messages tailored to different ages and levels of comprehension in order to be effective. Policymakers must be careful not to become distracted by blaming the medium. Rather, it is to coordinate action by a number of public and private actors on a number of interconnected issues that eventually fall under the umbrella of "building a safer Internet." These include integrating awareness and understanding of online-related child abuse and exploitation into child protection systems, developing effective law enforcement against online-related child abuse and exploitation, and incorporating child protection into effective law enforcement.

Expected Outcomes

Overview of current awareness towards national frameworks of child online safety & cybersecurity practices and discussion on viable solutions that facilitate youth participation. Recommendations for future cross-regional discussions. The outcomes will be summarised afterwards in the session report. We will raise awareness of child online safety through infographics and encourage youth participation. Discussion specific to the .KIDS Guiding Principles may be taken as input to further refine the community-led efforts of this document.

Hybrid Format

1. Opening remarks
2. Round 1: What is Child Online Safety?

3. Round 2: What are the current frameworks and best practices in ensuring child online safety policies are practical to be followed in different regions?

4. Round 3: What are the best suggestions to update the current frameworks governing online child safety?

5. Round 4: How should we develop a mechanism to ensure the shareholders are fulfilling their responsibility to ensure online child safety? - youth/ civil society/ technical experts

6. Round 5: What are the social media companies (BigTech) accountability when it comes to their minor user safety issues?

7. Round 6:  Wrap up

 

(Refer to PDF for the rundown)

 

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

 

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The safety of children and young people not only lies in the parents' responsibility, but it requires many distinct stakeholders' role including the government, technical experts and civil society. It was a consensus that the Internet is a double edge sword for children as it is not only imperative to give them the safety they deserve on the internet, but a safe space must also be created for them to develop and grow.

There are a lot of frameworks regulating child online safety including digital competencies. Essentially, more awareness has to be instilled in the children and young people as after all they need to know how to protect themselves. To improve child online safety, more punitive measures must be regulated and all stakeholders must transcend from policy to action.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

All stakeholders have a vital role in facilitating the implementation of suitable policies to improve child online safety.

Session Report (* deadline 16 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

 

Report for IGF 2022 WS #318 Gen-Z in Cyberspace: Are We Safe Online?

Rappoteurs: 

Dalili Nuradli, [email protected]

Ariff Azam, [email protected]

 

Before introducing the speakers, the moderator kicked off the session by inquiring about the perspectives of everyone pertaining to child online safety. It is an acclaimed notion that child online safety can literally be fathomed as the frameworks, the policies, and the regulations that are centralised in making sure online engagement for children is done safely and securely and that our youth are in no way exploited, taken advantage of, or ended up losing their lives because of being active in the online ecosystem.  It is a well-known fact that the internet, which is readily accessible and available via the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices, has provided children and young people with levels of access to information, culture, communication and entertainment that everyone would never have imagined that would be possible 20 years ago. So, we are faced with a myriad of challenges nowadays. 

In terms of the domain name space, child online safety is a very complex notion that requires a lot of participation and responsibility from different stakeholders, education and platforms. It is imperative to not just restrict certain types of content such as extreme violence and child pornography which should be unquestionably unavailable to children. On the other end of things, it is also essential to realize that children must be able to express themselves, create content that is appropriate for them to learn and take benefit of what the internet can bring to their education and the development of the children. So from the tech community standpoint, there is kind of a double-edged sword here as we need to allow the children space for them to grow and learn in a safe environment and we also must be more responsive to any abuse and questionable materials. This takes a lot of coordination with law enforcers, trusted partners, trusted notifiers, and child rights organisations i.e., Watch Foundation which are experts in taking down child sexual abuse materials. However, when it comes to child safety, there ought not to be a differentiation between online safety and offline safety in which both carry the same weightage of concern that should be paid attention to. This alludes that in catering for the need of the children in regard to their safety, the way of treating the safety of the children in both settings must be self-same. Therefore,  protecting the safety of the children online is not a responsibility solely placed on the parents as other stakeholders i.e., government civil society, and society as a whole also should partake in championing the safety of the children online. 

In the matter of updating the current frameworks governing child online safety in ensuring child online safety policies are practical to be followed in different regions, it must be foregrounded that the reasons why such challenges spiral to the extent the issue of child online safety cannot be combatted stem from the fact that there is an inadequacy of the awareness amongst the parents or even the older generation. Consequently, this ignorance renders to the stunted growth of the legislation concerning child online safety as it is perceived by the parents and older generations to be a ‘silly matter’ to be pondered upon. Therefore, the rules or frameworks which govern the discussion of instilling awareness towards parents and others should be enacted. 

Before conferring the issue of the effectiveness of the regulations, it is indispensable to converse on the implementation of the regulations i.e., data protection and privacy acts. Albeit these legislations are in force, there is still a dearth of implementation. For instance, the United Kingdom has General Data Protection Regulation, which is deemed to be the strongest data protection act. Notwithstanding that, Tiktok was fined 92 million in 2021 and was fined 13 million in 2022 for privacy concerns that affect children. Ergo, the yardstick of the effectiveness of child online safety is not the existence of the laws regulating child online safety, but the implementation of those laws that should be stressed in order to ensure a safe digital safe for children’s and young people’s usage. 

One of the initiatives that we can pursue is to grant the parents with the awareness program from the outset. This is due to the fact that the past generation is not ‘tech-savvy’ which leads to difficulties in deciphering the behaviour of their children in cyberspace. Hence, the participation of the parents can also come in the form of joining the awareness programme or webinar to shed a light on what the current technology can do and what are the effects towards their children.

Moreover, the mechanism that the stakeholders can employ is an age verification system. To illustrate this better, United States websites relating to alcohol, gambling, and movie-rated-18 plus compel the users to verify their age. However, this entails a problem as to how the service providers are going to verify somebody’s age if the act of service providers trying to access a certain database will constitute a breach of data. The next problem arises is in regard to the absence of universal standards in tackling the said issue due to the existence of different jurisdictions. By way of illustration, the users of social media are required to confirm their age, yet, such verification is never really verified as the users do not have to tender their identity cards. This is evident that most of the time, the verification only relies on an honour system. Thus, the first step to solve this issue is by creating secure standards in which the service providers are able to access certain databases, however, these secure standards must still venerate data privacy laws and the jurisdiction of the country. However, it is indisputable that these secure standards are still flawed as they only cater for documented persons, not undocumented people in general. This is due to the fact that these secure standards will impel every online platform user to tender their identification cards and this will precipitate a crisis for these undocumented persons. It is significant to revert to the fundamental attribute of the internet which is that the internet should be open to everyone. Next, the age verification step will ensue the problem of a data breach, data privacy, data regulations and how to implement them. 

Due to the scattered standards of child online safety, one of the mechanisms that the developers of the applications may utilise is the creation of the minimum standards and norms for child online safety concerns. This will assuage the problem which the developers might encounter in appraising the content of the internet such as pornography and sexual abuse content. For instance, there should be applications which have different modes that will enable parents to indicate whether that device will be used by a child or otherwise. This will make it easy for them to monitor and determine who accesses it. Nowadays children have devices as early as 3 or 4 years. The content a 5-year-old is exposed to may not be the same content that should be exposed to a 15-year-old. So having segregation of what content should be accessible for different ages and categorising demographic for children according to age would be of assistance to mitigate issues vis-a-vis child online safety.

Moving on, one of the vital questions which arose in this session is what are the possibilities that exist to eventually achieve child online safety on the internet. It is feasible to provide a safe online environment for children, yet, it is a long way to go before the children can safely utilise the internet without external threats. This problem relates to the huge gap which exists between digital immigrants and digital natives, the digital literacy issues among parents, lack of control of the technology itself. Thus, an alternative has to be a place which is creating an Internet for kids. Dot.Kids inaugurated by Dot.Asia is a conspicuous example that is viable for keeping children safe online. This is because there is no constraint thrust on the children insofar as the children are incompetent to express themselves and even explore the internet space. This can only be attained by giving the children space so that there is no extreme content such as pornography, sexual abuse material, gambling, or violence. However, it is noteworthy to reiterate that preserving the safety of the children in such an online platform demands the ultimate level of reliability and integrity of the educators, teachers and parents and people who are around the kids. 

Another solution is by going down to the children's level of awareness. For example, creating comic strips shows how to deal with the Internet. Children will be invested in reading it as it includes images, graphics and conversation which provides them with the safety measures that are required of them on the Internet.  There will be an inclination of the children to actually read such reference materials. It is also critical to seek a resolution for the problem that arises from the parents’ ignorance pertaining to the use of technology as the parents are the first point of contact for children’s development. Regulations concerning online child safety must be developed in a sense that parents can receive and absorb such content. Measures must be taken in accordance with the parents’ level of understanding by acknowledging and being cognizant of the life of the parents which differs due to various factors including experiences and regions. 

On a further note, in answering the question of how we should develop a mechanism to ensure the stakeholders are fulfilling their responsibility to ensure child online safety, one of the important mechanisms is to make global efforts and have an international convention on the issue.  This is important as children are a vulnerable class of society. Thus, to be effective, strategies need to incorporate measures and messages appropriate to different levels of ages of understanding. This also requires children’s and young people’s participation to know their opinions and feedback. We also need to empower the adults, and educators and give them support when they lack understanding of such issues. Not only that, the golden rule of “A little less talk, a little more action.” shall be applied and there should be more cross-regional collaboration in the sense that they should be consistent and actually increase globally in order to combat child online safety issues.  Moreover, there is a need for synergy and collaboration between government and civil society when it comes to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of children. Hence, all stakeholders must strengthen the capacity and process that relate to the realisation of children's rights and bring everyone to the table for such discussion. 

All speakers and participants are in consensus that social media companies ie BigTech are accountable when it comes to child online safety issues. Given the centrality of the private sector to the internet, BigTech has major responsibilities for child online protection. Social media companies have an obligation to both respect human rights and prevent or mitigate human rights which directly impact their operation, service and products and by-products i.e. advertisements that are shown to children online. Child abuse and exploitation are manifestly adverse human impacts, thus social media companies should be held accountable. There must be a regulation of the data stored and advertisements of certain products to children. For example, the application of WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook store data of children and teenagers and these BigTechs surely have saved the said data. Hence, there needs to be an improvement in terms of the texts, images and videos being stored and removed when it comes to children and teenagers. Furthermore, to ensure the safety of children online, it is necessary to introduce responsibility for global platforms at the legislative level. Responsibility should be comprehensive which indicates that all stakeholders should be responsible including online platforms and social media since children and young people spend much of their time on these platforms. This issue should be raised in many other Internet Governance forums and aim for the BigTechs to also be involved in this crucial discussion. Additionally, breaches made by BigTech that concern child online safety should also be addressed in upcoming forums. The solutions to the breaches should revolve around money and to a certain extent, shutting down businesses i.e. factors which hurt them the most in order for them to comply.

In conclusion, the three takeaways from this session concern the dire need for awareness, the push for implementation and third, to take action from all ends regardless of which sector one comes from in order to combat online child safety. Thus, it is vital to strengthen all stakeholders’ responsibilities and start with the laws which are already in place concerning online child safety and ensure its implementation with the cooperation of all stakeholders. Moreover, it is imperative to create more awareness by educating parents and children. Most importantly, we must emphasise punitive measures to stop online predators and offenders. Finally, all must have a need to transcend from policy to act as online safety for children is a universal issue that must be.