IGF 2023 WS #267 Online child protection vs privacy: can we have both?


Organizer 1: Desara Dushi, 🔒LSTS, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Organizer 2: Meri Baghdasaryan, 🔒Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
Organizer 3: Jutta Croll, 🔒Stiftung Digitale Chancen / Digital Opportunities Foundation
Organizer 4: Nertil Berdufi, Western Balkans University
Organizer 5: Nicolas Fiumarelli, 🔒Youth IGF Uruguay
Organizer 6: Nils Langensteiner, Luxembourg University

Speaker 1: Torsten Krause, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Michael Tunks, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Meri Baghdasaryan, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Benjamin Lawrence Patrick Aritao, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Desara Dushi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Nicolas Fiumarelli, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Nils Langensteiner, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. What are the main implications of the proposals on online child protection currently circulating in various regions? How can protection of child rights be reconciled with privacy protection for all?
B. What kind of regulatory framework do we need to guarantee privacy by means of end-to-end encryption AND combat child sexual abuse online?
C. Are there options that should be considered for protecting children without building vulnerabilities into privacy? What roles can various stakeholders play in making these options a reality?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Gain understanding of main policy developments that engage protection of children from online sexual abuse and exploitation across regions.
Brainstorm how to reconcile protection of both children’s and adults’ privacy rights and children’s right to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse online.
Meet key stakeholders working on issues of privacy and child rights across various regions.


The protection of children online is among the main policy making rationales these days. However, as we try to protect one right, we might be sacrificing privacy and security for all. Disproportionate interference with the freedom of expression and breaking end-to-end encryption produces new vulnerabilities, that can be exploited by anyone, thus putting everyone, including children, under a bigger threat.
The UK adopted the Age Appropriate Design Code -which later inspired and served as the basis for the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act -and strong debate is ongoing regarding the Online Safety Bill. Child protection measures are progressing also in Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, China, Argentina, Utah, Arkansas, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, and other jurisdictions.
The topic of criminalizing actions involving child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is central in the negotiations of the forthcoming UN Cybercrime treaty. The US Senate is discussing the STOP CSAM Act. Advocacy groups argue that the bill threatens free speech and security by undermining the viability of end-to-end encryption services.
A similar debate is happening in the EU, with the draft EU regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse online (CSA-R), with privacy advocates arguing that it will mark the end of end-to-end encryption and confidentiality of online communications.
We should also bear in mind that before all these regulatory proposals came to light, Apple announced their plan of launching an application able to detect CSAM on users iphones, an idea which silently disappeared due to high contestation.
This panel focuses on concerns of privacy infringement and mass surveillance under the excuse of child protection, and attempt to provide practical solutions on balancing privacy and child rights on global scale. It brings together experts from various regions and stakeholders.

Expected Outcomes

This session will feed into the current policy discussions on protection of children online and the inherent tensions around privacy protection. It’ll provide a platform for various organizations from different regions to exchange experiences and form connections to strive towards privacy for all and protection of children online. It will inform the policy making processes currently underway in many jurisdictions, including in the European Union.

Hybrid Format: In our endeavor to provide an enriching and interactive experience for both onsite and online participants, we will implement a Round Robin format, a sequential approach where one question from an onsite participant will be followed by one from an online participant, maintaining a fair and systematic flow of conversation.
We will incorporate a mentimeter poll in the session description to solicit questions in advance. During the session, we will conduct interactive polling to encourage participant engagement.
Apart from a traditional moderator onsite, we have a dedicated online moderator, ensuring that online participants are duly represented. These moderators will facilitate conversation as the discourse evolves, maintaining a dynamic and interactive session.
The onsite moderator will check with the online moderator for raised hands or written comments. This coordination will ensure that all participants' voices are heard, optimizing our commitment to an engaging, inclusive, and participative session.