IGF 2020 WS #335 Balancing child safety and freedom of expression online


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Michael Tunks, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Susie Hargreaves, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Andrew Puddephatt, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Debate - Classroom - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

2, 3 and 4.

The panel will particularly consider these challenges related to the sexual abuse of children online. We will consider the global approaches to balancing these tensions, with representatives from all corners of the global, including Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. We will draw on the experiences of those seeking to legislate in the tricky intersection of technology and child safety. We will explore the challenges created by initiatives such as the European Commission's e-privacy directive, the General Data Protection Regulation and progress made in the US with the introduction of the cloud act. This will be balanced by views from those who seek to protect the freedom of the individual to express themselves online and consider the specific issues that concern them about their trust in how the internet is governed when it comes to child safety online.


GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


This session seeks to explore the delicate balance between ensuring the safety of children and young people online and the rights and freedoms of individuals to the freedom of expression and the rights to privacy and freedom from state interference in an individuals private life. The session will explore the challenges associated in the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals, in particular relation to goal 16.2 which seeks to end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. This session will also explore the tension that is created between the aims of the sustainable development goals and how these at times challenge and conflict with other declarations at UN level such as the UN's declaration on Human Rights which declares that an individual has the right to a private life that is free from state intervention within their family, home or correspondence.

Expected Outcomes

The Internet Watch Foundation will facilitate the discussion and produce a readout and summary of the key takeaways from the session. Our intention would be to share the outcomes with the wider global network of our reporting portal partners, with global policy making bodies such as WePROTECT and the ITU Child Online Protection Committee for further discussion. The aim of this session is to spark and ongoing debate in how we balance the privacy rights of individuals with the rights of children to a safe and secure system in which both can have sufficient trust in the system that governs the internet.

The moderator will be responsible for highlighting questions from online participants to the Chair of the session. Online Participants will have the opportunity to fully participate in the discussion.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The panel will highlight the current success within the multi-stakeholder approach to tackling child sexual abuse online and the associated challenges that the proliferation of this material creates for trust and confidence in the multi-stakeholder approach of the internet ecosystem. This will be set against the consideration of the rights of individuals to state interventions and consider the policy challenges in balancing the rights of the freedom of individuals to privacy and freedom from state intervention in their private lives. Both of these issues create significant issues for an individuals trust in the governance of the internet ecosystem and this session will explore how Governments, Civil Society and indivudal internet users grapple with these challenges on a daily basis.

Relevance to Theme: The proposal is particularly relevant to how Government, NGOs and civilians can build an internet ecosystem which is truly multi-stakeholder within its approach, protects the safety of its users and furthers trust and confidence within the global system from the perspective of safety for children and the rights of indivudals for protections from the pervasive and appresive authoritarian regimes around the world.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.