Building an empowering and safe online environment for children - SRSG Maalla M'jid opens forum @ World Internet Conference

Wuzhen, China, 22 October 2019 - The cyber world converged on Wuzhen for the sixth World Internet Conference. More than 1,500 guests, including internet experts, scholars, government officials and technology entrepreneurs attended the conference organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

The participants shared experiences, achievements, and cyberspace developments, virtual and real, and discussed challenges under the theme "Intelligent Interconnection for Openness and Cooperation: Building a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace".

SRSG Najat Maalla M'jid opened the sub-forum devoted to Protection of Children Online and Internet Ecology Governance calling for Gorvenrments to adopt legislation to protect children from violence online and made an appeal to the industry to work together with children and Governments to more efficiently detect illegal material being disseminated in the internet.

"The ICT industry could support the principle of safety-by-design by being more proactive in detecting illegal material on their platforms and by reporting and collaborating with law enforcement agencies and hotlines. The power and influence of the private sector should be leveraged to advance industry-wide ethical standards on data and privacy, as well as other practices that benefit and protect children online."

Statistics presented at the conference by the Government show that as of July 2018, almost 169 million children in the country were internet users. This number accounts for 93.7% of all Chinese children.

According to the same report, one in three children in China have been exposed to harmful materialswhen browsing the internet. In addition, over 15 % have said that they have experienced cyberbullying. 

"The threats to children online are already huge and current allocations for prevention and response are inadequate and as the ICT sector changes so rapidly, even more effort and resources will be needed. To effectively strengthen the protection of children, we need a multi-stakeholder, multisectoral and child-rights centered approach. We must act together on several fronts simultaneously to ensure that legislation prohibits all forms of online violence, including extraterritorial jurisdiction, as well as mandatory reporting for Internet Service Providers, mobile telephone companies and search engines", added SRSG Maalla Mjid. 

As a generation growing up fully engaged in the cyberspace, children are much more sensitive to information on the internet than any other group their ability to make judgements and to self-protection is limited, which can easily make them vulnerable to harmful information.