European Program Targets Online Child Porn

Tod Hunter
BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Commission has proposed a new 55 million euro "Safer Internet" program to tackle child pornography, stalking of children by predators and digital bullying.

The new program will run from 2009 to 2013, building on an existing Safer Internet program started in 2005.

The commission said that with new Internet services, including social networking on sites like Facebook or MySpace and massive growth in online multiplayer gaming, Europe's efforts to protect children online must develop as well.

"Where there is illegal content online, rapid and determined action by public authorities will be ensured by strengthened reporting systems," Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

The program has four major divisions: reducing illegal content and harmful content online, promoting a safer online environment in general, raising public awareness of the issue and establishing a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children.

The program hopes to create national contact points for reporting illegal content and digital bullying, focusing on pornographic material and stalking of children by predators, referred to as "grooming."

Youth panels involving children, as well as other actions targeting parents and teachers, would aim at improving the online environment and ensuring that children and adults close to them know about such illegal activities online — and what they look like.

The knowledge base would bring together researchers to better understand how children use the Internet and mobile phones, as well as the effect the technologies have on children.

For more information, visit the European Commission's Safer Internet Program website.