Updates

Child safety online

2019

Technology companies, Facebook, Google, Apple, BT, and Microsoft have been accused of failing to prevent the online abuse of children. and will have to provide evidence on the adequacy of initiatives taken by them to prevent online abuse before the independent inquiry being held into sexual abuse of children in UK.

Opening the proceedings on Monday, legal counsel Jacqueline Carey shared cases of child abuse online and its devastating impact on their lives.The tech giants would have to provide evidence within the next ten days.

 

The UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection, Simon Bailey suggests that the only way to force social media companies to pay attention and initiate steps to protect children online is a public boycott. He shared that currently he has not seen any initiatives taken by social media companies that indicate their sincerity to safeguarding children online. He added ‘Ultimately I think the only thing they will genuinely respond to is when their brand is damaged. Ultimately the financial penalties for some of the giants of this world are going to be an absolute drop in the ocean’.

 

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was approached by four US Senators alongside a coalition of 19 civil society organisations (headed by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and the Center for Digital Democracy) to launch an investigation into whether Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The coalition presented the commission with research which exposed, among others, the following vulnerabilities of the system: it is not clear what personal information the device collects, how it uses that information, and whether it shares the information with third parties; Amazon’s system for obtaining parental consent is inadequate and it keeps the audio recordings of children’s voices far longer than necessary; and finally even when parents delete some or all of the recordings of their child, the company does not necessarily delete all of the child’s personal information.

As part of Australia’s 2019 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to crack down heavily on social media trolling and increase punishments for the exploitation of children online. Morrison promised to increase maximum penalties from three to five years for social media trolling or any offence under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. His party’s proposed agenda includes introduction of new aggravated offences for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with children outside Australia, new offences covering the provision of electronic services to facilitate dealing with child abuse material and grooming third parties using the post or a carriage service to procure children for sexual activity.

 

 

A study by Oxford researchers revealed that the time spent by children on social media has only a ‘trivial’ impact on life satisfaction. The researchers emphasise that parents should stop worrying about how long their children spend on social media platforms and instead talk to them about their experiences. First author of the research, Amy Orben from Oxford University, suggests ‘Just as things went awry offline, things will also go awry online, and it is really important for that communication channel to be open,’

The impact of social media and screen time on children is a widely debated topic, with some studies suggesting their adverse effect on children's mental health while others highlighting the positive effects, including helping children to socialise and find support.

 
 

 

Concerns have been raised by experts on how online baby care product retailers and e-commerce companies such as Amazon, FirstCry, parentlane, and Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter are offering services such as age-based content, recommendations or discount coupons to parents who share specific information about their children. ‘Children are particularly vulnerable and require heightened privacy protection. Amazon, Parentlane and FirstCry must clarify and inform parents what (they) intend to do with the data being gathered,’ said Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, Apar Gupta.

India is currently in the process of coming up with a law on data protection. The draft legislation bars companies from profiling, tracking or targeting children with advertisements and proposes strict restrictions on guardian data fiduciaries or companies that operate commercial websites or online services directed at children or process large volumes of personal data related to children.

 
 

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