5Rights Foundation

Making the digital environment fit for children and childhood.

5Rights Foundation exists to articulate the rights of children in the digital environment.

For generations we have, in culture, in our national laws and by international agreement, supported children on their journey from dependence to autonomy across all aspects of society. This reflects our understanding that the capacity of a child to act in their own best interests is necessarily limited by vulnerabilities and immaturities associated with their age which means that the young require special privileges and care.

The digital environment does not reflect this consensus.

In ignoring the hugely precious cultural, social and legal norms that collectively form the concept of childhood, the gatekeepers of the digital world have rejected over a century of global efforts to support children. 1/3rd of those online are under 18, which amounts to nearly one billion children. 5Rights Foundation works towards a digital environment that anticipates the presence, meets the needs and upholds the rights, of children.

A child is a child until they reach maturity, not only until they reach for their smartphone.

The 5Rights Framework was developed with children, parents, teachers, academics, policymakers and technologists. The Framework reimagines the existing rights of children and interprets them for the digital environment. They are the minimum requirement for a child to enjoy a respectful and supportive relationship with the digital environment.

The 5Rights

The Right to Remove
The Right to Know
The Right to Safety and Support
The Right to Informed and Conscious Use
The Right to Digital Literacy

The full text of the 5Rights can be found here.

5Rights Foundation’s interdisciplinary network includes; child development experts, lawyers, technologists, NGOs, campaigners, academics, policymakers and many from the commercial sector.

In concert with our network, and on behalf of and alongside the children with whom we work, 5Rights Foundation advocates for:

  • Research that considers the full gamut of children’s interaction with technology
  • Child-led and co-designed policies and digital services
  • Universal standards and protocols that offer privacy, rights and safety by design
  • Regulatory oversight and governance of the tech sector
  • Harmonisation of existing laws and agreements to take proper account of the digital environment

We imagine a digital environment that respects children’s rights and offers support by default. An environment that operates to agreed, enforceable, universal and ethical standards; so that all children can access the digital environment creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.

Advocacy and Partnerships

We regularly work with academics, child development experts, NGOs, governments, regulators, legal experts, activists and technologists. We speak on public platforms, submit to public consultations and undertake briefings across a number of interrelated subject areas. Our publications can be found on our resources page.

5Rights Foundation also contributes to the work of many different organisations.

Young Scot has been our Scottish partner since 2016. Its 5Rights Youth Commission published ‘Our Digital Rights’ (2016) making a series of recommendations to the Scottish Government on how children and young people’s rights could be realised in the digital environment. Subsequently, Young Scot established a Youth Leadership Group in 2018, which continues to lead activities with government, businesses and young people in Scotland.

Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on Cyberbullying was established in 2017 to tackle the issue of cyberbullying. Leading tech companies, NGOs and independent advisers sit on the Taskforce and have created safety guidelines and their ‘Stop Speak Support’ campaign created an online code of conduct for 11-16 year olds who encounter cyberbullying.

United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development is jointly chaired by ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to consider how digital technologies can be harnessed to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The Broadband Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities and to ensure that the benefits of technology are realised in all countries. It has recently released its 2025 targets.

Council on Extended Intelligence (CXI) seeks to foster the responsible creation of intelligent systems (also known as AI). Co-led by the IEEE Standards Association and the MIT Media Lab, its mission is to prioritise people and the planet over profit and productivity by encouraging responsible participant design and data agency. CXI believes that all systems should be responsibly created and that science and technology should be used for social and ethical progress, so that environmental and technological systems align positively with humanity.

WePROTECT Technical Group – Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online. As part of the international movement dedicated to national and global action to end the sexual exploitation of children online, the Technical Group – led by Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner – works towards technical solutions that support prevention, takedown and enforcement across all aspects of child sexual exploitation online.

5Rights Foundation’s founding partners and funders include: BT; Circle Media, whose system of family technology is inspired by the 5Rights Framework; and the IEEE Standards Association. Our funders also include the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Oak Foundation. We are grateful for their support and the support of all in our network who generously give their time and expertise.

A full list of 5Rights Foundation’s signatories can be found on our signatories page.