EU lawmakers approve crackdown on Internet violence

Cyber-bullying and child pornography will be targeted in a €55 million (US$70.9 million) scheme agreed by European Union lawmakers on Wednesday.The European Commission’s “Safer Internet” proposal from 2009 to 2013 aims to improve safety for children surfing the Internet, promote public awareness and create national centers for reporting illegal online content.European politicians are under increasing pressure to prevent the Internet becoming a haven for crime.German police said in August they were investigating around 1,000 people suspected of having downloaded child pornography after they discovered a website showing the sexual abuse of two young girls. welcomes European Parliament’s strong support for a new Safer Internet Programme [news release]
The European Parliament cast an overwhelmingly positive vote today on the report drafted by MEP Roberta Angelilli which supports the launch of a new EU Safer Internet programme. The 5-year programme (2009-13), proposed by the European Commission last February, will have a budget of € 55 million to combat illegal online content but also to tackle illegal and harmful conduct such as grooming and cyberbullying.”Today’s children and teenagers face new challenges when they use Web 2.0 services. The EU will coordinate actions to empower children and protect them”, said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media in response to the positive outcome of the vote in Parliament. “I am particularly glad that the Parliament addressed the Commission’s proposal so promptly and strongly endorsed our proposals to make the Internet safer for children. I am convinced that the new Safer Internet programme will play an important role in our understanding of the challenges regarding online risks for young people and children, and will provide concrete help to many young internet users and their parents.”Today’s vote during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg followed a debate on the Commission’s proposal, which was applauded by all political groups. Some MEPs even considered the programme as “one of the best things Europe could do”. The new Programme is now expected to be approved by the Council before the end of 2008.The Safer Internet programme 2009-2013 builds on the success of the previous Safer Internet programme started in 2005 and will also encompass recent communications services from the Web 2.0, such as social networking. The proposed new programme will co-fund projects to:

  • Ensure awareness of children, parents and teachers, and support contact points that are providing them with advice on how to stay safe online.
  • Provide the public with national contact points for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material and grooming.
  • Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and stimulate the involvement of children in creating a safer online environment.
  • Establish a knowledge base on the use of new technologies and related risks by bringing together researchers engaged in online child safety at European level.

Of the € 55 million budget for the new Safer Internet Programme, 48% should serve to ensure public awareness, 34% to fight against illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online, 10% to promote a safer online environment and 8% to establish a knowledge base.About the new Safer Internet programme 2009-2013:
MEMO/08/322About the current Safer Internet programme 2005-2008:
IP/08/207On Social Networking:

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