Session: Dynamic Coalition
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The session was organised by ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) with the support of Ms Marie Laure Leminaire, Head of Global Program Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children Online, as session moderator. Leminaire started by giving a brief definition of the IoT and then addressed the issues related to the linkages between the IoT and the rights of children. She noted that the objectives of the discussion were to answer some critical questions:
Mr Maarten Botterman, Chair of the Dynamic Coalition on Internet of Things, said that it is very clear that it is not a question of stopping the IoT but rather a global thing everyone has to follow because we need this technology but with a conscious use. He added that it is recognised that technology is here to support sustainable development and that it requires huge ethical considerations where the important elements are awareness, transparency, safety, accountability, and stakeholder responsibility to ensure a safe environment. He concluded that data generated by the IoT should not be saved in databases and used for public or marketing purposes.
Ms Sonia Livingstone, Full Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics, spoke about child rights prospects. It is a question of protection, she said. A framework for child rights begins by saying that children are independent rights bearers. The right prospects give us that broad focus; we are talking about children aged 5-16 as well as children of 18 years old. She added that within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child we see some clarity and responsibility about child rights. There are a lot of human rights debates, including the IGF, where people are talking about human rights and data protection. Livingstone spoke about the role of Internet governance and its importance to open a broader debate about IoT children’s rights and privacy considerations. She asked who can resolve the issue of protection by excluding children from the online word? She addressed the role of parents and teachers to educate children about some safety rules regarding IoT use. Many issues are still not clear and there are many debates about data protection regulation.
Mr John Carr, Expert Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online noted the importance of the IGF as an open space to discuss such issues. He added that the real world is doing a lot but he is not sure if it is hearing what the IGF is doing. Very substantial numbers of things are emerging from businesses without any link to IGF debates. He said that we don’t know how many things are now connected to the Internet and some of them will be toys targeting kids. In terms of safety, any hacker can detect these toys and explore private data from there. He noted two aspects of the IoT. The first: one is in the parenting angle, where the whole conversation between the child and their toy can be stolen by hackers and used for marketing purposes. WiFi baby monitors also face many challenges as strangers can hack these monitors, too. The second aspect is the manufacturers’ angle where the IoT has great business potential and huge potential to do damage.
Ms Jutta Croll (Managing Director, German Centre for Child Protection on the Internet) started by giving an example of a baby monitor as a toy where most parents are not aware that by putting that toy in their kid’s room they have already exposed their child to the Internet. She said that we are not blaming parents because they do not realise that in most cases Internet connections are insecure; parents need training and literacy on IoT safety by design. She concluded that the international community needs to understand this phenomenon and analyse the degree of risk children are exposed to through toys. She added that many devices do not have a high degree of safety and it is stupid to think that passwords are a good security measure. It is obvious that putting a connected device on the hand of a small child is a big risk; therefore, securing the whole main chain in the manufacturing process is essential to protect child rights on the net.
Ms Arda Gerkens, member of the Dutch Senate and Director of the Dutch Meldpunt kinderporno (hotline for child pornography), started by going back to the old age where advertisements did not target youth. She added that today advertisements are targeting babies, kids, and children through thousands of things that can be connected to the Internet. She said we must realise that people are creating these things as cool stuff but they need to be secure to protect children’s privacy and rights. If a child is exposed to be watched 24/7, we need to strengthen the right to be disconnected and the right to not save their data. It is important to educate parents about what is wrong and what is a right. She concluded that there should be more regulations and policy processes to protect the child, something that is the responsibility of all stakeholders.
At the end of the session, the moderator opened discussions with the audience and points relating to the child right to be engaged in such a debate were raised; other points related to the threats that the IoT may introduce to the Internet.
by Hafedh Al Yahmadi, Internet Society Tunisia