Tackling online disinformation: EU proposes a Code of Practice

The Commission is proposing measures to tackle disinformation online, including an EU-wide Code of Practice on Disinformation, support for an independent network of fact-checkers, and a series of actions to stimulate quality journalism and promote media literacy.

The recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelations demonstrated exactly how personal data can be exploited in electoral contexts, and are a timely reminder that more is needed to secure resilient democratic processes.

Source: European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – Tackling online disinformation: Commission proposes an EU-wide Code of Practice

Children and the digital marketing of food

Food marketing has been identified as an important contributor to the “obesogenic” environment, in which foods high in fats, salt and sugars are promoted extensively, are more visible and are cheaper and easier to obtain than healthy options. Food marketing has been shown consistently to influence children’s food preferences and choices, shape their dietary habits and increase their risk of becoming obese.

In the absence of effective regulation of digital media in many countries, children are increasingly exposed to persuasive, individually tailored marketing techniques through, for example, social media sites and “advergames”.

For the first time, researchers and health experts have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of digital marketing to children of foods high in fats, salt and sugars. The findings are published in a new report from the WHO Regional Office for Europe, ‘Tackling food marketing to children in a digital world: trans-disciplinary perspectives’, which calls for immediate action by policy-makers to recognize and address the growing issue of marketing targeted to children via digital media.

Download the report on Children and the Digital Marketing of Food from the euro.who.int website

Digitising European public services

Delivering on its Strategy to create a Digital Single Market, the European Commission has developed plans to help European industry, SMEs, researchers and public authorities make the most of new technologies.

It has created a set of measures to support and link up national initiatives for the digitisation of industry and related services across all sectors and to boost investment through strategic partnerships and networks. It also proposes concrete measures to speed up the development of common standards in priority areas, such as 5G communication networks or cybersecurity, and to modernise public services.

The Commission will also set up a European cloud that will give Europe’s 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, manage, analyse and re-use a massive amount of research data.

People and businesses are still not reaping the full benefit from digital public services that should be available seamlessly across the EU. The Commission has developed an e-government action plan that will modernise digital public services and make the EU a better place to live, work and invest. It has suggested 20 measures to be launched by the end of 2017, including a digital single gateway to help users operate across borders and a cross border e-health service.

Find more information about the Digitising of European Industry on the europa.eu website

Online violence towards children

UNICEF has launched a campaign – ENDviolence online – to highlight the perils of the internet for children today.

As part of this campaign it has produced a report “Perils and possibilities: growing up online” which showcases young people’s perceptions of the risks children and adolescents face coming of age in the digital world. As the boundary between online and offline fades, explore what children face in the ether today – and how we can all support them.

To download the report and find out more about the campaign for internet safety for children on the unicef.org website.

Code of Conduct for online hate

The European Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have developed a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

These IT companies recognise they share, together with other platforms and social media companies, a collective responsibility for promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world. They also understand that the spread of illegal hate speech online not only negatively affects the groups or individuals that it targets, it also negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms.

In order to prevent the spread of illegal hate speech, it is essential to ensure that relevant national laws combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as the in the offline environment.

By signing this code of conduct, the IT companies commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online. They will also strengthen their ongoing partnerships with civil society organisations who will help flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct.

To download the full Code of Conduct on the ec.europa.eu website.

Using the internet to fight alcohol abuse

The Italian Ministry of Health is using two of the best communication tools geared to young people – the internet and music – to deliver an important message about alcohol. In Italy, like Europe as a whole, alcohol abuse is the leading cause of death and disability among people under 30.

To read more about the campaign (in Italian), click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Europe unites against online child sexual abuse

The international problem of online child sexual abuse needs an international solution and the European Parliament is calling for united efforts to investigate online child sexual abuse, prosecute offenders, protect child victims and remove illegal online content.

More than 80% of the victims are under 10 years old and Parliament’s call for action states that:

  • any illicit content must be promptly removed and reported to law enforcement authorities, with the ICT industry, internet service providers and internet host providers ensuring fast and efficient removal
  • Europol and national law enforcement authorities should be given the necessary funds, human resources, investigative powers and technical capabilities to “seriously and effectively pursue, investigate and prosecute the offenders”
  • new high-tech capabilities should be developed to meet the challenges of analysing vast amounts of child abuse imagery, including material hidden on the “dark web”
  • the online personal data of children must be protected, and they should be informed in an easy and child-friendly way of the risks and consequences of using their data online
  • awareness-raising campaigns on responsible behaviour in the social media and online sexual abuse prevention programmes should be set up to empower children and support parents and educators in understanding and handling online risks. Hotlines should also be developed to enable children to denounce abuse anonymously
  • International cooperation and transnational investigations must be stepped up, since these crimes span hundreds of countries with different legal jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies.

A new joint initiative by the EU and 55 countries will form the Global Alliance against Child   Sexual Abuse Online. This aims to rescue more victims, ensure more effective prosecution, raise awareness and achieve an overall reduction in the amount of child sexual abuse material available online.

To read more about a project aimed at reducing the victimisation of children on the internet, go to http://ec.europa.eu