The forum’s executive coordinator Marcus Kummer said that the topic that attracted the most interest from participants was online security and, more specifically, the issue of child pornography and the online protection of children. Out of 70 events to be held at the forum, 19 of those will be dedicated to those issues.
Kummer cited cooperation on a global scale, in terms of addressing the issue of online child pornography, and pointed out groups like U.K-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), that effectively facilitate online self-regulation by allowing users to report illegal activities. By working in collaboration with the Internet community, Internet service providers and police authorities, the IWF has virtually eliminated child pornography being produced in the U.K., according to Kummer.
IWF also is the founder of pan-European organization InHope, which allows child pornography hotlines to swap information and track illegal activities that may originate in foreign countries.
In the U.S., the nonprofit Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP), is overseen by director Joan Irvine. Founded in 1996, the ASACP operates an online hotline for Internet users to report suspicious activity. The organization then investigates the reported websites and forwards red flag warnings to authorities, including the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. ASACP works also with member adult websites by providing a system of best practices for those sites, as well as the Restricted to Adult (RTA) label, which enables more effective filtering for parents concerned about preventing access to adult sites.
The forum is not a decision-making body or an intergovernmental meeting; however, Kummer said, it would allow all participants to meet as equals to discuss Internet concerns.
“The forum is more than a talking shop,” Kummer said. “It is a gathering of interested people who care about the Internet and who can give direction and prepare the decisions that will be taken into consideration by other organizations that do have the decision-making power.”