IGF 2022 DCCOS Translating data & laws into action for digital child rights

Thursday, 1st December, 2022 (06:30 UTC) - Thursday, 1st December, 2022 (08:00 UTC)
Banquet Hall B

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

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min


Faced with growing concern about the safety, security and privacy of children in digital environments, experts have long highlighted a broad range of data, legal, regulatory, policy and technology gaps needed to build robust prevention and response mechanisms. Finding a balance between these areas of intervention continues to be a complex and is the topic of much ongoing debate at national, regional and global level. At the same time, there have been significant developments across all of these areas in recent years, including: Research – Disrupting Harm (https://ecpat.org/disrupting-harm/) research project conducted in 13 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa by ECPAT International, UNICEF Innocenti and INTERPOL. This project has helped address the imbalance of evidence regarding Online CSEA between the Global North and the Global South. International Law – General Comment 25 to the UN CRC on the Rights of the Child in relation to the Digital Environment has delivered recognition that the rights of children offline also apply in digital environments Regulation – Proposals and laws such as the UK Online Harms Bill, the EU Digital Services Act and a proposal for a regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse, and the Australian Online Safety Act, are changing the obligations and liability of online service providers with regards children’s rights as digital citizens. Policy – Safety by design principles and age appropriate design codes are helping to shift the balance from response mechanisms towards prevention. Technology – advancement of AI/ML, prevention chatbots and other safe and safety-focused technology are helping to keep children safe. This session will explore: 1. How evidence from the Disrupting Harm project, combined with international laws such as the General Comment #25 can lead to real, positive impact on children's digital lives. 2. Whether and how new regulation from a certain countries and regions can or should inform action in other parts of the world. 3. What digital service providers can do to act upon evidence, respond to regulation, and ensure safety across all technologies they deploy globally.

1) To facilitate interaction, we will ensure online meetings to prepare for the session and agree upon the order of speakers and the moderation to ensure equal participation in the session. 2) The session will include in-person and online speakers, and the online moderator will work closely with the onsite moderator to manage questions and comments. 3) In 2021, the DC used online polls during the session. We aim to repeat that experience and/or use a jamboard to keep participants engaged and facilitate information gathering for follow-on action after the session.


1. Amy Crocker, ECPAT International, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific and Global

2. Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen, Civil Society, Europe


1. APAC/CSO: Seila Samleang, APLE Cambodia

2. Africa/CSO: Dr.Tessema Bekele, Emmanuel Development Association, Ethiopia

3. Joy Katunge, Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children

4.MENA/IGO: Serena Tommasino, Safe Online, Global Partnership to End Violence against Children. 

5. UK/CSO Academia: Prof. Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics 

6. EU/CSO: Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

Onsite Moderator

Adama Jallow, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Amy Crocker, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Matteo Russo, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group


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.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

1. The collection of data using tested methodologies that enable comparison is essential to ensure child rights in the digital environment. This can directly influence policy at the national level. 2. Education remains essential as a preventive measure but cannot replace the need for proactive measures by online service providers.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

1. Governments must provide funding for such data collection and analysis, as outlined in existing legal frameworks. 2. Industry must respond in a coordinated way and adopt a safety-by-design approach.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

SUMMARY REPORT: The round-table discussed how to ensure the safety, security, and privacy of children in digital environments through data, legal, regulatory, policy, and technology analysis in order to build a more robust prevention strategy and enhance a more efficient response mechanism. 

The session explored how evidence-based analysis from the Disrupting Harm project, combined with international laws such as General Comment #25 made a positive impact on children's digital lives. Furthermore, participants have discussed how and to what extent new regulations from certain countries and regions have informed actions in other parts of the world. The important role of digital service providers to act upon evidence, promote regulations, and ensure safety across all technologies they deploy globally has been further explored in the discussion. 

Amy Crocker from ECPAT International opened the discussion and commented that as the digital world develops, expands and diversifies, it is becoming not only necessary but also a legal and moral obligation that we address the diverse positive and negative implications of the digital world for children’s rights.  

Prof. Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics and Political Science highlighted the key link between data and legislation, saying that ‘data’ has taken on a new meaning in recent years as it has become focus on data that is collected. Initiatives such as General Comment #25 (GC 25) to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child represent are a milestone in child protection in the digital environment. In the GC 25, the Committee explains how States parties should implement the Convention in relation to the digital environment and provides guidance on relevant legislative, policy, and other measures to be followed by States to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Convention and the Optional Protocols. Implementing robust data collection is essential, including research “with and by children”, to inform policy makers and legislators. The principle of "non-discrimination" is also key. The Commission establishes that "all children" must have equal and effective access to the digital environment, and "all their rights" must be respected by policymakers and stakeholders. Privacy and a high standard of protection must be ensured. Gaps exist, such as the difficulty of collecting useful data and evidence from the Global South; the delicate balance between privacy and data collection; the soft-law nature of the Comment; and the difficulty of fully understanding the "interest of the child" by policy makers and legislators. 

Interventions from the floor: 

  • To a question about whether the GC 25 also addresses the need for better data on the phenomenon and of what works to tackle it, Prof. Livingstone asserted that the GC25 does oblige evidence-based policy and action. 

  • Rodrigo Lopez from the Brazil youth committee asked whether the GC 25 addresses targeted advertising to children because this is an issue in Brasil as this has been considered abusive for years but it still happens. The response was that it does, that that the DC has increasingly recognised the commercial risks to children and needs to find a way to deliberate on the tipping point between commercial use and commercial exploitation, perhaps by identifying some criteria and building on the CRC Committee assertion that State Parties should prohibit by law any targeting based on inferred characteristics.  

Serena Tommasino from End Violence’s Safe Online team affirmed that data and evidence-based information have been a useful tool to advocate for children’s rights. Disrupting Harm (DH), funded by Safe Online, is a large-scale research project producing unique national, regional and global insights into how online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Southern and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia (Kenya, Uganda, Thailand, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Philippines, Viet Nam, Namibia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Mozambique, and South Africa). They are now investing in implementation in these countries, and research will begin in 10 more countries. Data scarcity and poor quality have limited our understanding of OCSEA. Generating high-quality evidence is fundamental to developing a coherent methodology that might be replicable in different countries. A recent event in Brussels, Safe digital futures, saw experts discuss how to improve the data ecosystem and devised a joint roadmap to inform policy and stakeholders. 

Rangsima Deesawade, Regional Coordinator for South East Asia ECPAT International highlighted that a reliable and standard data collection methodology at regional and global level leads to comparability. By aggregating data extracted in different countries following the same methodology, it would be possible to have a scientific comparison of information on OCSEA. She pointed out that some of the findings were new even for ECPAT, such as in relation to gender. The data showed that there were similar rates of victimisation between girls and boys, with interesting variances across the countries. This type of information can help change persistent narratives.  

Interventions from the floor:  

  • Dave Miles, Director of Safety Policy for Meta, pointed out that Meta is using clear standards to design online/onsite guidelines and codes of conduct. Standards such as the GC 25 and age-appropriate design code are influencing the way Meta designs solutions. Larger platforms can influence others in the sector. Age assurance, child-friendly products, and empowering the trust and safety community should be the main concerns of the industry sector. 

  • Jennifer Chung, Dot kids raised the point that when we look at enabling activities, harm does not always start with clear criminal activity, making it hard to know where to intervene and at what stage.  Jutta Croll responded that Stiftung Digitale Chancen are advocating for proper age verification so that platforms know how their users are and can adapt support for them.  

  • Jutta Croll from Stiftung Digitale Chancen raised the importance of improving national risk assessment mechanisms and presented a model they have co-developed. Current risk assessment is addressing harm after the fact. Pre-emptive, comprehensive, and concomitant assessment of potential threats to children must be implemented among different platforms where anticipatory conduct might consequently lead to criminal offences. Precautionary measures such as age verification may fit this scope.  

Interventions from the floor: 

  • Jonathan Andrew from the Danish Institute for Human Rights wondered what the response has been from lawmakers to this risk assessment tool. When the draft CSA Regulation in the EU came out, most were still considering what risk assessment really means. He pointed out that education is key because risk starts before a criminal act, but precautionary measures by service providers are also needed. The role and mandate of national human rights instruments is key.  


  • The GC25 is legally binding and comprehensive framework to ensure digital child rights. 

  • Education is key but cannot replace proactive measures by online service providers. 

  • Common data collection methodologies ensure comparability and drive change. 

  • Key to tackle tensions between children's data privacy and protection.

  • Governments must provide funding for data collection and analysis, 

  • Industry must adopt a safety-by-design approach.