Parisian leaders call to protect children online

PARIS (AP) – Some world leaders and internet giants are expected to launch a global call to better protect children online at a summit in Paris bringing together some 30 heads of state and government, including the vice-president American Kamala Harris, announced the French presidency on Thursday. .

“Protecting our children and adolescents online means keeping them away from inappropriate or dangerous content, violence, hatred and pornography,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. He called on states, organizations and businesses to “make concrete commitments for 2022” at the Paris Peace Forum.

The Elysee Palace said about 450 participants are expected at the three-day summit that opens Thursday, while another 15,000 will attend online. The summit brings together world leaders, CEOs, NGOs and others to discuss global issues such as the climate, the COVID-19 pandemic and the digital transition.

Macron will chair a closed press session to make “joint commitments” on how to make the internet safer for children, a French official said.

The call will mark a “starting point” for taking concrete measures, including the application of parental controls on digital tools, the protection of children from inappropriate content and the prevention of cyberbullying, prostitution and child pornography, the manager said.

A senior US administration official suggested the US would join the call, noting that the country plays “a leading role because our businesses are so dominant in this space and our government has a voice. leading”.

Macron, Harris, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will also attend a public or digital regulatory panel, alongside Microsoft President Brad Smith, Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki and from Amazon Senior Vice President Russel Grandinetti.

Child rights advocates have for years urged internet giants to take action to better protect children.

Disclosures last month from whistleblower Frances Haugen showing internal Facebook studies into Instagram’s damage to teens only heightened parents’ concerns about the popular photo-sharing app.

Nora Fraisse, head of a French association for the fight against school bullying, greeted Thursday “a key moment” because it puts “international pressure” on the giants of the Internet.

Fraisse founded “Marion La Main Tendue” (“Marion the outstretched hand”) after her daughter, Marion, committed suicide at the age of 13 because she was bullied at school.

“Those who spread hate through their pipes bear some responsibility,” she said of popular social media apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Cyberbullying and school bullying are often interconnected.

Fraisse said social media companies should ask for proof of identity first and have better control over what content is posted.

Social media companies have generally banned children under the age of 13 from signing up for their services, although it has been widely documented that children register anyway, with or without their parents’ permission.

Fraisse, who speaks in schools about online risks, also called for better educating children and parents on these issues.

She cited a national study her association commissioned this year which showed that the proportion of those who have attempted suicide is higher among children bullied in school (12%) than among the general population. (7%).

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