IGF 2021 DCCOS Regulate or prevent to protect children – a false dichotomy?

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (14:00 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (15:30 UTC)
Hall A3

Dynamic Coalition on Children's Rights in the the Digital Environment

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min


Content moderation and human rights compliance: How to ensure that government regulation, self-regulation and co-regulation approaches to content moderation are compliant with human rights frameworks, are transparent and accountable, and enable a safe, united and inclusive Internet?
Data governance and trust, globally and locally: What is needed to ensure that existing and future national and international data governance frameworks are effective in mandating the responsible and trustworthy use of data, with respect for privacy and other human rights?


With legislation on the table in several countries and regions to address harmful and illegal content in digital environments, Internet Governance is experiencing a transition from self-regulatory to regulatory environments for online service providers. This is highlighting the complexity of the issues at play, as well as the lack of consensus between different issue groups such as privacy organizations, fundamental rights and freedom of expression group and children’s rights advocates. The arguments for and against regulation often default to binary or seemingly mutually exclusive positions, missing the nuance and compromise needed to identify sustainable, cross-sector solutions to violence against children in real-life and in digital environments. Advocates of regulation argue that technology companies have failed to self-regulate effectively and at scale across the sector and globally; they point out that the technologies to address the digital manifestations of OCSEA are proven to work for online spaces, victims and society yet they are not being taken up and deployed sufficiently widely with appropriate levels of transparency. Proponents of a public health approach to online child sexual exploitation and abuse argue that too much focus has been placed on regulation and technical interventions, at the cost of investment in prevention strategies that tackle the problems at the root, leading to adverse impacts particularly though not exclusively on marginalized groups. This session seeks to explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in regulating digital environments, and to build consensus on a broad, sustainable and nuanced approach to protecting and ensuring the rights of children in digital environments. Two overarching questions for the session: 1. Is the emphasis on regulation and technical solutions obscuring larger challenges in terms of addressing online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA)? 2. How do we align the principles of regulation of digital environments and prevention strategies to protect children?

Other key policy questions to guide the conversation (indicative): 1. How does the UN General Comment 25 to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guide our response? 2. How important is it to achieve a high degree of issue separation, for example as between addressing illegal content, harmful content and content in the grey area? 3. Where do we draw the line between the different types of content related to child sexual abuse? Should the most heinous types be prioritised over less violent content? 4. Is it realistic or desirable for technology companies to shift their focus from managing digital harm to investing in prevention strategies? Can’t they do both, and aren’t they already? 5. Is it the case that governments are investing more in regulation and control that in evidence-based prevention of online and offline violence against children? 6. What does the evidence tell us about regulating online activity as opposed to promoting safety and resilience? 7. Can we learn from the different stages of response to OCSEA from different segments of the technical community such as social media platforms and the gaming industry?

• We have selected the Roundtable (U-shape) format with the intention of combining elements of both a panel session and a roundtable. This will help ensure that as many voices as possible are heard, and that a robust moderated conversation takes place around a table. • Speakers and participants will be both online and offline, thereby enabling further inclusion of people from different regions and with different perspectives to bring to this topic. • To ensure that online participants are heard, the offline moderator will systematically consult the online moderator to open the floor to online participants, and/or ensure that as many questions as possible submitted via the chat are put to the group, within the time available. • If necessary, additional tools will be considered. For example, early, mid and end time polling will be considered to take the temperature of the ‘room’, either using the IGF software or an alternative tool. • However, content and participant management will be easier if interaction is streamlined through one or maximum two tools.


ECPAT International - Doro Czarnecki / Amy Crocker

Stiftung Digitale–Chancen – Jutta Croll

Online Safety Expert - John Carr


1. Patrick Burton – Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (Male, Africa, civil society) – onsite 

2. Thiago Tavares – SaferNet Brasil (Male, Latam, Policy and Legal) - online

3. Sandra Marchenko – ICMEC (Female, North America, Civil Society) - online

4. Susie Hargreaves – IWF (Female, Europe outside EU, civil society) - onsite

5. Andreas Hautz – Jugendschutz.net – (Male, Europe-EU, civil society) - online 

Onsite Moderator

Jutta Croll (Stiftung Digitale–Chancen)

Online Moderator

Doro Czarnecki (ECPAT International)


Amy Crocker (ECPAT International)



Targets: Focus SDG is 16.2 - End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. To effectively tackle SDG 16.2, we need to understand and mitigate the impact of digital technology on abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. However, despite significant developments such as the UN General Comment to the CRC on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment, regional and sectoral variances exist. Emerging regulation is seen by some as essential to protect children online, by some as harmful to fundamental rights, and by others as only one of the many components needed for an effective response to online violence against children. With such opposing views, we risk losing sight of the goal of SDG 16.2. This proposal aims to facilitate an open discussion on these complex challenges. See DC paper - https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/6975/1390