The rights of the child, including to the prioritisation of their best interests, must underpin EU tech regulation.
As the final compromises are made on the EU’s Digital Services Act, 5Rights has once again brought together EU children’s rights organisations and parents’ associations, to call on the European Parliament to ensure children’s rights and the principle of the best interests of the child underpin the text as a whole.
In policy-making, children’s rights are often subsumed under more general “fundamental rights”, and the unique vulnerabilities, needs and interests of children, their lack of autonomy and specific rights to additional protections as compared to adults, fail to be taken into account as laws are thereafter interpreted and implemented.
In the EU’s Digital Services Act, only the largest online platforms are explicitly required to take account of the rights of the child.
Amendments being considered by MEPs would require all platforms to take measures for the safety, security and privacy of minors in the design of their services. They would also ban the use of the personal data of minors for commercial purposes such as targeted advertising. Standards would be developed and promoted for the protection of minors online.
These amendments have the support of 5Rights, together with the EU children’s rights platform organisations Eurochild and Missing Children Europe, ECPAT and the European Parents Association. Their implementation, as well as that of the far-ranging other provisions of this landmark Regulation, should however be underpinned by a comprehensive and shared understanding of the established rights of the child, as set out in UNCRC General comment 25 as regards the digital environment.
Thus for example, the subsequent definition of a “minor” should take into account the evolving capacities of children, and an assessment of the balance between “safety” and “privacy” should be made based on consideration of their best interests.
The final round of negotiations will take place on Monday 6 December, with a Committee vote scheduled for 13 December.