Appendix 1 to the reply
Comments of the
Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC)
The Steering Committee on the
Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) welcomes Parliamentary
and takes note of the recommendations contained therein.
The CDMC notes that Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1882 (2009)
embodies many existing standards in the field of the
media and new communication services, prepared by the CDMC and adopted
by the Committee of Ministers, which stress the importance of children’s
accessibility to and safety on the Internet, with particular reference
to media literacy, access to information, fair and transparent use
of the Internet resources and the promotion of human rights, the
rule of law and democracy, social cohesion and diversity through
ICTs. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation
should therefore be considered together with several
other relevant recommendations of the Committee of Ministers (many
of which are referred to below) and the adopted texts of the 1st
Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media
and New Communication Services, held on 28 and 29 May 2009 in Reykjavik.
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation
places the Internet within a cultural context enabling
children (and adults) to broaden their social and cultural horizons.
These opportunities underline the high public service value of the
Internet in line with Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 on measures
to promote the public service value of the Internet.
4. From the outset, the CDMC would underline the importance of
fostering children’s trust and confidence in the Internet as an
integral part of their freedom of expression and their right to
seek and impart information in accordance with Article 10 of the
European Convention on Human Rights. The needs and concerns of children
online should be addressed without undermining the benefits and
opportunities offered to them on the Internet.
5. The CDMC generally supports the call for “public awareness
campaigns targeted at the risks and opportunities for minors using
Internet and online media services as well as the technical opportunities
to restrict harmful content”.
6. The CDMC stresses the need to protect children’s dignity,
security and privacy on the Internet, in particular, by ensuring
that there are no lasting or permanently accessible records of the
content they create which renders them vulnerable now or at a later
stage in their lives. This accords with the Committee of Ministers
Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children
on the internet, the follow-up of which will be carried out by the
CDMC subordinate Committee of Experts on New Media (MC-NM).
7. The CDMC notes that growing numbers of children rely on the
Internet for many of their everyday activities. The Internet has
become an important tool for their social life, for learning and
their feeling of general well-being. Children’s engagement in social
networking can help them communicate and to positively project themselves
(their image and personality) thereby helping them to build confidence
and trust both in themselves and in others. The MC-NM will be examining
the human rights aspects of social networks in the near future.
In this connection, the CDMC shares the concerns about the “reducing
effectiveness of traditional media policies for the protection of
minors” with regard to user generated content and social networks.
8. The CDMC underlines the need for children to be empowered
to use the Internet and online services so that they can acquire
the necessary skills to create, produce and distribute content and
communications. This accords with Committee of Ministers Recommendation
Rec(2006)12 which recommends that member states ensure children
become familiar with, and skilled in, the new information and communications
environment and that, to this end, information literacy and training
for children become an integral part of school education from an
early stage in their lives.
9. In line with the discussions and texts adopted during the
Reykjavik Ministerial Conference, the CDMC strongly supports efforts
to develop and promote media literacy in order to promote “informal
and formal education, creativity, social interaction and civic participation”
and to address gender based “negative effects on children and adolescents”.
In this connection, the CDMC notes the decision of the Committee
of Ministers of 20 October 2009 to support a transversal approach
to media literacy under the stewardship of the Directorate General
of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport.
10. In building a Europe for and with children, the CDMC considers
that these efforts could be usefully carried out taking into account
their needs and concerns noting, in this regard, that public service
media can participate actively in spreading media literacy among
children and young people, parents and teachers as well as the public
at large. As a trustworthy information source, public service media
can also help overcome the risks of broadcasting negative stereotypes
and violent content online.
11. In accessing online content, the CDMC recalls that children’s
access to filters should be age appropriate and “intelligent” as
a means of encouraging access to and confident use of the Internet
and as a complement to strategies which tackle access to harmful
content. The use of such filters should be proportionate and should not
lead to the overprotection of children in accordance with Recommendation
CM/Rec(2008)6 on measures to promote the respect for freedom of
expression and information with regard to Internet filters.
12. As regards “quality standards and ratings of Internet and
online media services adequate for minors”, the CDMC stresses that
children’s confidence and trust online can be developed and strengthened
by promoting their access to “islands of trust” otherwise known
as “walled gardens” in which they can explore, learn and play. The
CDMC recalls Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5
on measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour
and to promote their active participation in the new information
and communications environment which recommends that member states
encourage public-private partnerships to (i) create and facilitate
confidence building environments (“walled gardens”) for children to
safely explore the Internet, (ii) create a human rights based pan-European
trustmark which harnesses new and existing online content labelling
systems, and (iii) improve children’s media literacy. The CDMC notes
that the Council of Europe has been invited to facilitate the implementation
of this recommendation. It would also underline that the development
of sustainable strategies for delivering a sufficient amount of
trustworthy and diverse online content for children merits consideration.
13. The CDMC shares the concern about the harmful effects on children
of certain types of content and behaviours. It should be pointed
out that, pursuant to the Action Plan of the Reykjavik Ministerial
Conference, the CDMC will be “exploring the question of the possible
use of newer or emerging services of mass communication to shape
opinion and consumption of different groups in society in a surreptitious,
subliminal or otherwise manipulative manner and, with due regard
to Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
explore ways in which to protect the users or public from such use”.
The CDMC takes note of, and stands ready to carry out the
instruction in the recommendation to “analyse the potential psychological
risks for children and adolescents using Internet and online media [services]
particular social online networks and games as well as sites containing
negative gender stereotypes, and to propose appropriate action by
the Council of Europe and member states. Further research, analysis
and multi-stakeholder coordination with regard to the risk of harm
could be carried out by the CDMC and/or its subordinate bodies.
Useful consideration could also be given to the Council of Europe Human
Rights Guidelines for Online Games Providers which were launched
together with the Interactive Software Federation in Europe (ISFE)
in October 2008.
15. The results of such analysis would assist educational and
cultural institutions, as well as public service broadcasters, in
creating and delivering more meaningful, attractive and competitive
content online to children which promotes cultural heritage as well
as linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe.
16. The CDMC strongly supports the call to promote policies and
multi-stakeholder co-operation, including the work of the European
Dialogue on Internet Governance and Safer Internet Programme. It
would underline that the effectiveness of such policies and cooperation
depends on maximising the outreach and engagement of a panoply of
actors, in national, local and regional multi-stakeholder settings,
which have a direct and indirect influence on children. These actors
(e.g. parents, social institutions, schools, state, industry) play
important roles in children’s lives and reflection on their responsibilities
17. The CDMC takes note of the call for greater legal responsibilities
for Internet service providers (ISPs) with regard to illegal content.
This is a very complex legal matter that concerns the work of other
steering committees in the Council of Europe. In this context, the
Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on freedom of communication
on the Internet which refers to the principle of limited liability
of service providers for Internet content should be recalled. The
CDMC stands ready to engage in reflection on this matter pursuant
to the Action Plan of the Reykjavik Ministerial Conference and bearing
in mind the commitment and engagement of the European Association
of Internet Services Providers (EuroISPA) to the Council of Europe
Human Rights guidelines for ISPs which were launched together with
EuroISPA in October 2008.
18. In conclusion, the CDMC considers that the promotion of Internet
and online media services appropriate for minors involves striking
a balance between the positive and negative aspects of media and
new communication services so that children (and their parents and
teachers) may develop the confidence and trust they need to fully
exercise and enjoy their rights and freedoms, in particular the
right to freedom of expression and information, and to be active