Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection

Balancing child online rights between empowerment and protection

Within this evolving technological landscape, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with partners of the Child Online Protection Initiative, led a process to develop the Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection through global consultation. The Guidelines were released in late 2014 and provide a rights based approach to the children and the digital era discussion in the private sector.

The Guidelines align with both the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. They provide advice on how the ICT industry can work to help ensure children’s safety when using the Internet or any of the associated technologies or devices that connect to it. They also provide guidance to companies on identifying ways in which they can advance children’s rights and facilitate responsible digital citizenship, learning, and civic participation.

These Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection provide a broad and clear framework with five main pillars for the growing range of companies globally that develop, provide or make use of information and communication technologies in the delivery of their products and services. The Guidelines also include sector-specific checklists that recommend actions for various actors including: mobile operators, Internet service providers (ISPs), content providers, and online retailers to name but a few.

The Guidelines recommend the ICT industry to act in 5 key areas:

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1. Integrating child rights considerations into all appropriate corporate policies and management processes.

Businesses have a responsibility to respect and support children’s rights. This includes putting in place policies and management processes as well as establishing grievance and remedy mechanisms for violations.

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2. Developing processes for handling child sexual abuse content.

3. Developing safer and age appropriate online environments.

Child online sexual abuse material is not simply about taking down a photo online, but also identifying the victim. In addition to child online sexual abuse material, children may be exposed to violent or adult content, content that promotes self-harm, cyberbullying, and more.

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4. Educating children, parents, and teachers about children’s safety and responsible use of ICTs.

5. Promoting digital technology as a mode to further positive civic engagement.

Education and communication internet technologies can help children access educational content and information about their rights. Bring forward problems and needs, innovate and create solutions. Participate in digitized social functions. Express their opinions and views, demand government accountability.

More info: COP Guidelines (English) [PDF]