5Rights Foundation Newsletter: Febuary 2024

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Ofcom must rethink Online Safety Act illegal harms code of practice

Since the passage of the Online Safety Act into UK law in October 2023, the regulator Ofcom has launched several consultations on its codes of practice to deliver on the Act’s primary objective of “making the UK the safest place in the world to be online”. In our response to Ofcom’s first draft code addressing illegal harms, 5Rights Foundation highlights our concerns that the regulator has given far greater consideration to business costs and interests over victims, failed to adequately recognise the harms created by smaller platforms, and not built in safety by design principles.

Read our response here

Enforcing the DSA for children: a moral imperative; and a strategic EU move

The Digital Services Act entered into full application on the 17th of February, and 5Rights joined Members of Parliament, experts and NGOs to call for its swift and robust implementation for children. At an event co-hosted with the European Parliament Child Rights Intergroup, 5Rights Foundation launched a report setting out a baseline for measures to ensure children’s privacy, safety and security online.

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Africa adopts world-first comprehensive child online safety policy

African Union leaders on the 19th of February adopted the world’s first comprehensive policy for the implementation of children’s rights in the digital environment, as set out in the UNCRC General comment No. 25. The African Union Child Online Safety and Empowerment Policy, developed with the expert support of 5Rights Foundation and our Child Online Safety Toolkit funded by Safe Online, sets the stage for Africa, where half of the population is under the age of 18, to show global leadership to ensure the digital world delivers for children.

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Momentum for children’s privacy and safety continues to build in the US

An increasing number of State legislatures across the US have taken up the cause of privacy and safety by design for children. Inspired by the pioneering Californian Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC), sponsored by 5Rights and adopted with unanimous support from that State legislature in 2022, mirror bills have this year been introduced in Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont and Hawaii.  

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5Rights welcomes Data Bill changes on access to data for child inquests

In December, 5Rights supported calls from the Bereaved Families for Online Safety for the Government to keep its Online Safety Act promises. This followed the Government’s plans to water down newly won powers for coroners to access data during investigations of cases where a child has died, to only apply where a child is thought to have taken their own life, and not for all cases as originally promised. The group backed by 5Rights raised concerns in an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister, and relevant Secretaries of State and media. The Government has now reversed its position and will apply the provisions as originally promised recognising that coroners and families need the information to help with their enquiries.

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5Rights Foundation celebrates Safer Internet Day 2024

At the start of this month, we celebrated Safer Internet Day 2024, raising awareness of the continual need to make the internet a safer and better environment for all, and most importantly children. In Stockholm, we partnered with the Swedish Prince Couple’s Foundation’s “Ctrl + Rights Conference” to call for the further embedding of children’s rights into digital and legal systems. In the UK, our team attended the events led by YouthLink Scotland, the Online Safety Act Network, and Childnet International, to celebrate and be inspired by the works of others in this field. We also heard what children had to say about what they want from a safer internet, posted as part of our Instagram launch

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Research, Reports, and Findings

🇺🇸 “Meta Approves Harmful Teen Ads with Images from its Own AI Tool” Meta approved targetted ads of drug parties, underage drinking, and eating disorders to children as young as 13 Tech Transparency Project

🗺️ “Search engines can act as one-click gateways to self-harm and suicide content” This report highlights  the alarming ease of being exposed to harmful content with common search queries Ofcom

🇬🇧 “Social media algorithms amplify misogynistic content to teens” Harmful content is being recommended to young users resulting in “hateful ideologies and misogynistic tropes” moving “off screens and into schools” UCL, the University of Kent and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

🇪🇺 “GDPR: a culture of non-compliance? Numbers of evidence-based enforcement efforts” breaks down the practical experiences of General Data Protection Regulation European Center for Digital Rights

Upcoming Events

*️⃣ Panel on AI and Children’s Privacy: Challenges and Regulatory Approaches at CPDP
Wednesday, 22nd to 24th May 2024
- Brussels, Belgium (Exact date and time TBC). Register here

5Rights will host an expert panel discussion at the 17th International Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference, aiming at feeding best practices and lessons learned regarding children’s data protection into regulatory initiatives for AI.

🔔 Copycat: Social Contagion, Online Viral Behavior, and Youth
Thursday, 29th February 2024 - Online, 17:00 (GMT). Register here

Children and Screens’ webinar provides an opportunity to ask the experts about what parents and caregivers need to know about the vulnerabilities around social contagion and the impact of digital content and social media algorithms.

🔔 Webinar: How AI is being abused to create CSAM
Thursday, 7th March 2024
- Online, 15:00 (GMT). Register here

INHOPE’s webinar details the new online threat - AI-generated CSAM, and the profound impact this has on online child protection. Trigger warning, this webinar will contain sensitive material or material that may be distressing.

🔔 Taking a Child Rights-Based Approach to Implementing the UNGPs in the Digital Environment
Deadline: Wednesday, 13th March 2024

This is an open consultation. Send your input to ohchr-B-techproject@un.org. for more information click here.

🔔 Global Age Assurance Standards Summit
Monday, 8th April
9:00 to 12th April 2024 18:00 (BST) - Manchester, UK (and Online). Register here.

A gathering of leading experts who will delve into how we can coordinate an approach to age assurance that will value privacy, security, and reliability, to ensure children will have a safer experience online. Organised by Age Check Certification Scheme, and funded by Safe Online. Baroness Kidron will deliver a keynote and 5Rights will organise a civil society roundtable.

Want to support our cause?

Building on the progress outlined in this newsletter, 5Rights is on a mission to create a safer, more enriching digital world for our children. This journey is far from over, and your support is the cornerstone of our continued success.

Join us by donating today, and together, we’ll make enduring improvements. Thank you for helping us turn our vision into action.

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