IGF 2021 WS #170 Child Protection Online - How to legislate?

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (16:00 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (17:30 UTC)
Conference Room 6

Organizer 1: Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Organizer 2: Torsten Krause, Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk e.V. - German Children´s Fund
Organizer 3: Clemens Gruber, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Organizer 4: Marlene Fasolt, Digital Opportunities Foundation

Speaker 1: Beeban Kidron, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Hoda Dahroug , Government, African Group
Speaker 3: Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Thomas Salzmann, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: David Miles, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 6: Tomasz Kulasa, Government, Eastern European Group
Speaker 7: Agne Kaarlep, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Jutta Croll, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Torsten Krause, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Marlene Fasolt, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?


In addition to the above phrased policy questions we will address also from the emerging and cross-cutting area Trust, security and stability the policy question: Ensuring a safe digital space: How should governments, Internet businesses and other stakeholders protect citizens, including vulnerable citizens, against online exploitation and abuse? All three policy questions will be tackled with a child rights based approach by stakeholders from government, industry and civil society. 196 states have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child thus committing themselves to make the best interests of the child a primary consideration in all actions concerning children undertaken by administrative authorities or legislative bodies. A previous stock-taking process has revealed a patchwork of regulatory approaches to child online safety across jurisdictions around the world. The global nature of the Internet poses a challenge to national legislation and demands for exchange of experiences and expertise among legislators and with the industry being subject to the legal regulations and undertaking self-regulatory efforts at the same time. The guardrails of our debate will be set by the aspired outcome of the session: Recommendations for policy makers in regard of legislation towards child online safety and children’s rights to be protected.


3. Good Health and Well-Being

Targets: Growing-up in a digital environment needs a holistic understanding of children's well being as it is addressed by SDG 3 and requires access to education that provides children with the respective skills and digital literacy as addressed by SDG 4.4. SDG 16.2 End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children is literally related to the issue of child online safety addressed in the session.


In the years of the Internet’s infancy attempts to regulate were frowned upon. Private sector-led self-regulation and co-regulation initiatives were pre-dominant and considered to be the best strategy to ensure a level playing field and an open market. However, with the Internet’s coming of age, other regulatory approaches seem to become more accepted, but there is still no common strategy. While some jurisdictions are discussing how liability of Internet intermediaries can be ensured by respective legislation, others are advocating for regulatory standards that platform providers are obliged to adhere to. The German Youth Protection Act amended in May 2021 in regard of online safety follows the new concept of a “dialogic regulation”. The law builds on a child rights approach, sets up a new government body responsible for the provision of orientation in the digital environment and digital literacy and obliges platform providers to set a framework of standards to ensure young people can use their services safely. Addressed by this type of regulation are risks from communication and contact functions, from purchase functions, from gambling-like mechanisms, from mechanisms to promote excessive media usage behaviour, from the disclosure of inventory and data usage of third parties without consent, and from purchase appeals that are not age-appropriate, especially through advertising references to other media. In order to ensure equal and safe access for all children the law obliges platform providers to take precautionary measures to counter such risks. These include child-friendly terms and conditions, safe default settings for the use of services that limit the risks of use depending on age, for example, by ensuring that user profiles cannot be found by search engines, and easy-to-find information on provider-independent advice, help and reporting mechanisms. Companies shall consult with self-regulation organisations and young users, then enter in a dialogue with a government regulatory body, provide their catalogue of precautionary measures for review and certification by the government body, and thus become compliant with the requirements of the law.

During this session the concept of dialogic regulation will be presented and discussed with government representatives from around the world, by presenting legislation from their own country and comparing different child protection strategies with regard to their impact on children's access, child safety and their human rights. In addition, we have invited representatives from social networking platforms to discuss their self-regulatory approaches and how they deal with certain types of regulations in different countries.

Expected Outcomes

Overview on different regulatory approaches to child online safety and their impact on digital inclusion of children Analysis of the concept of “dialogic regulation” Recommendations for policy makers in regard of legislation towards child online safety and children’s rights

The outcomes will be summarised afterwards in the session report and published in different languages in order to support legislators and parliamentarians to further develop their own country’s concepts of regulation towards child online safety and digital inclusion.

Discussion Facilitation

We are aware that the panel format needs a certain pre-caution to ensure a lively debate including onsite and online participants. The session therefore follows a well thought through structure to allow for fruitful exchange of perspectives among the panelists and the participants in the (digital) room. In the first half of the session the moderator will guide the panelists through their presentations keeping an eye on the time and allow for questions of understanding. Then after 45 min the floor will be opened up to a debate with all participants and panelists. Once the workshop is accepted and scheduled in the IGF program we will announce the theme and the agenda to the broader public, we will especially invite parliamentarians around the world and representatives of the platform industry to take part in the session. Thus we will be able to get additional input from a variety of stakeholders not represented in the panel.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.