Are you worried about the online safety of children? The European Union is, and it's taking protecting children one step further.
[More from Mashable: Study Says Facebook Privacy Concerns Are on the Rise – Is It Accurate?]
On Wednesday, the European Commission released a new action plan for protecting kids online, a "pan-European framework for electronic authentication." Simply put, it's a system that could prove people's ages online, specifically targeted at teens and younger children.
In the press release for the proposed "electronic authentication" system, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom outlined the reasons behind it:
[More from Mashable: FTC Chair: ‘I Don’t Think Most of Us Understand’ How Personal Data Is Used]
"We are living in the digital age and the younger generations are those most active online. These young people are particularly at easy with the use of the Internet but they are still vulnerable to online threats.
It is our duty as parents to keep our children safe -- and this includes on the web. We have to reinforce cooperation at European and international levels to combat cybercrime, and especially the most horrible acts such as sexual exploitation and the dissemination of child sexual abuse material online."
In the U.S., websites must comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which states that sites can't collect information from children without their parents' permission. Still, many children bypass this rule by simply adjusting their birthdays when they sign up for accounts on sites like Facebook.
In the U.K., regulating childrens' online activities has also proved difficult.
How exactly the European Commission will enforce this "electronic authentication" is unknown at the moment; a proposal outlining further details is expected at the end of this month. However, some suggestions include the following: developing easy-to-use systems for reporting harmful content and conduct online; teaching online safety in EU schools; and encouraging creative, educational online content geared toward kids.
Do you have any ideas for how to better protect kids online? Let us know in the comments.
Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr, tinkerbrad
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- the European Commission
- The European Union