As the European Commission is starting to develop its approach for so-called “virtual worlds”, 5Rights provided its feedback to ensure that the EU initiative on the vision, opportunities, societal challenges and implementation measures protects and promotes children’s rights, by design and by default.
5Rights urged the European Commission to ensure that virtual worlds, like all digital technologies, are safe and respect childrens rights, by design and default. To achieve this, the legislative and regulatory framework governing the design, development and operation of virtual environments is comprehensive, tech-neutral, rights-centred and outcomes-based, with strong and consistent enforcement. The European Commission should therefore assess any gaps in the existing EU regulatory environment to ensure all providers and operators of any products or services that are likely to be accessed by or impact on children in a virtual environment incorporate child-centred design, with effective and streamlined oversight and accountability mechanisms. This should include a one-stop-shop EU regulator for systemic breaches of fundamental rights in virtual environments.
Children’s rights and their best interests, as recognised in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and elaborated in its General comment 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, as well as enshrined in several EU policies and legislations such as the General Data Protection Regulation, the Digital Services Act, the Audio-visual Media Services Directive or the European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids, should be prioritised with respect to commercial interests in the development, regulation and governance of virtual worlds.
Read 5Rights’ full contribution here.