A Charter to protect children online in France and Hong Kong?

The second day of the Paris Peace Forum (November 11) was, not surprisingly, focused on the war in Ukraine. Day 10 was unsurprisingly focused on digital governance issues and, in particular, child protection online. or Card for the protection of children on the Internet has been signed by a number of governments and private actors in the sector. As France is positioning itself as a leader on this topic, we explored the regulations in force in Hong Kong. As a bonus, a list of helpful resources to better protect your children online.

Advances in child protection in France

of Card for the protection of children on the Internet published on 10 November is based on the model and method of the Christchurch Appeal. As a reminder, in May 2019, after the Christchurch mosque attacks (51 dead, 40 injured), France and New Zealand led 120 governments and organizations (private internet players, NGOs) to engage together in the fight against violent and terrorist content. in the Internet.

of Card for the protection of children on the Internet published on November 10 covers the following topics: age-appropriate access to content, cyberbullying, digital literacy, parental support, privacy protection, transparency and moderation, with a particular focus on gender-related risks.

The vision described in the Charter will be based on a Online laboratory for child protection, newly created. The role of this Laboratory will be to evaluate, promote and develop technical solutions for the topics listed in the Charter.

This initiative is an extension ofcall to action “Protection of children’s rights in the digital environment” supported at the 2021 Forum by several countries and NGOs.

On November 10, committed partners are governments (France, Estonia, New Zealand), private companies in this sector (Amazon, DailyMotion, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet, Snap, TikTok, Qwant)NGO (WeProtect, Standup the Children, Point of Contact AND E-Childhood). Finally, a representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund involved UNICEF, already very active in this field and author of a STATUTE. This aims above all to protect the image of children, it does not start from the idea that children use the Internet and social networks.

For the Elysee, it is

breaking down existing silos between governments, civil society organizations and private companies operating in the digital environment

This requires a normative or even legislative framework (under the responsibility of government actors), good practices (in the context of national education, family education or the accompanying world) and design principles (technical subjects carried out by private sector actors).

(Credit: needpix.com photo336446)

Note that legislation on this subject remains a balancing act, while the constitutions of Western democracies guarantee freedom of expression. For fear of violating this constitutional right, the United States, for example, is not a signatory to the Charter for the Protection of Children on the Internet. It should be noted that at the federal level, the United States implemented the law in 1998 COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) on children’s online privacy.

France, with its law of 20 June 2018 regarding the protection of personal data, has modified the law “Informatique et Libertés” to adapt it to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD), applicable everywhere in Europe since May 25, 2018.

Child protection card online France Hong Kong
(Credit: cybersecurityarchitect.eu)

The situation of children and the Internet in Hong Kong

The subject is also a passion in Hong Kong. last June, security chief Chris Tang announced in a meeting of LegCo a government priority on cyberbullying. Indeed, according toOffice of Educationthe number of cases doubled between 2017 and 2022. This trend confirmed the figures of Hong Kong Department of Health, collected in response to questionnaires over several years. It would be 2-3% of students who would be victims of cyberbullying through forums, blogs and chat rooms.

Schools are required to put in place prevention strategies, alarm channels and a monitoring mechanism, as well as training for teachers.

Billy Wong, Executive Secretary of the Hong Kong Committee on the Rights of the Child, explains that even more cyberbullying is expected, given the increasing amount of time children now spend online and the increasingly tender age of internet exposure. Finally, with the obligation to use LeaveHomeSafe in everyday life, including for children, mobile phones have become mandatory and ubiquitous.

In Hong Kong, victims and known perpetrators of cyberbullying are often separated. We do not apply “restorative justice”that is, a confrontation of people with each other and an explanation of the influences. It brings neither comfort to the victim nor education to the abuser.

In cyberbullying, however, the impacts are severe, for several reasons: the Internet allows people to act anonymously without fear of retribution, insults can spread instantly and are almost impossible to erase, children often do not use the same platforms as adults (doing adult action is difficult), and finally the Internet is everywhere and home is no longer a shelter.

The government indicated that child pornography is also on the rise.

In Hong Kong, there is no dedicated cyberstalking law yet, but existing cybercrime laws can be invoked [(Tort Law pour la diffamation, Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, ou encore Data Protection Principles (DPPs)]. of Law Reform Commission is working for a reform. The so-called track is a law modeled after that of South Korea, which forces platforms to give their real name online, although a pseudonym is possible, but the platform has access to the real identity if necessary.

In Hong Kong, a society with a liberal tradition, there are many voices in favor of better education and protection of people from themselves rather than a law.

Child protection card online France Hong Kong
(Credit: publicdomainpictures.net)

For more information on child protection

Whether in France or Hong Kong, children and their parents navigate an environment where all types of content are accessible to all. If France looks ahead on this topic (between the GDPR law, awareness of the problem and collaborative work towards solutions that combine all actors on the ground), the French in Hong Kong need to educate themselves and identify the available resources. (non-exhaustive list).


Parental control

Parent education

jeprotegemonenfant.gouv.fra site for parents of children aged 6 and up, which provides “sex education content for free speech between parents and children”

The FaceBook group “Le Club des Parents Connectés by Meta” managed by FaceBook France, the e-Enfance association, the Génération Numérique association and the National Union of Family Associations

Qwant.coma French search engine that respects privacy, without any targeted advertising and Qwantjunior.comversion intended for ages 6-12 and available on Android and iOS

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