Director General DG CONNECT confirms age 12 appropriate threshold online


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In an event organized by weekly newspaper European Voice on 19 September (“Can we make the internet a safer place for children?”), Robert Madelin, Director General of the European Commission's DG CONNECT said he believed there is a broad consensus amongst society and academics to create special rules to protect children aged 12 and under on the internet.

Mr Madelin was giving the keynote speech to the morning panel debate. During his intervention, he introduced several initiatives already undertaken by the Commission to address child safety online. He also announced a project to evaluate the various instruments available to ensure children's safety online, including self-regulation, co-regulation and CSR. He referred to those instruments as “one big soup” that he intends to “clean”, in the context of discussions around the Code for Effective Open Voluntarism, in which WFA is participating.

During the Q&A session, Robert Madelin was invited to comment on the various age thresholds currently in force across Europe for various purposes (marriage, joining the army, voting rights%u2026). He said that, while age varies across Europe for many things, there is a broad support to create special rules for advertising to children under 12. He indicated that this threshold was also probably applicable (and equally supported) for the internet.

He also mentioned age verification techniques, and referred to online gambling as the only regulated industry with effective mechanisms to verify age of users. He felt it was up to society to decide if they are willing to introduce strict age verification techniques for other industries at the expense of a smooth user experience.

Other speakers included Mike Short, VP for Public Affairs, Telefonica; Kuno Sorensen, Head of eNASCO, European Alliance for Child Safety Online and Sabine Verheyen, MEP.

For more information please contact Malte Lohan.

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