European Union

Population

503,000,000

Population 0‑14

15.6%

Internet Users

79.3%

Facebook Users

236,000,000
* Statistics provided by CIA.gov, Internet World Stats and GSMA Intellligence

2000 – The Lisbon Special European Council: Towards a Europe of Innovation and Knowledge legislation was approved. This document recognizes the growing importance of ICT in professional and private life and calls for an overhaul of the European education system.

2001 – The EU passed the Council Resolution on eLearning, reaffirming that improving IT skills was a top priority among Member States. It calls upon EU members to continue efforts for the effective integration of information and communication technologies in education, capitalize on the potential of the Internet in lifelong learning environments, enhance research in eLearning and support virtual forums for cooperation, among other initiatives.

2003 – The EU adopted an e-Learning program, to run from 2004 to 2006, for the effective integration of information and communication technologies in education and training systems in Europe. It aimed to identify relevant actors and inform them on using e-learning to promote digital literacy to strengthen intercultural dialogue, use the potential of e-learning to enhance European education, provide mechanisms to support the development of European quality products and services, and exploit the potential of e-learning in the context of innovating teaching methods.

2005 – The European Commission established eTwinning as the main component of its eLearning Programme. It is an online platform for school staff to communicate, collaborate and develop projects together. The project promotes the use of ICT by providing support, tools and services for schools.

2009 – The EU passed a recommendation on media literacy in the digital environment, with the goal of achieving a more competitive knowledge economy and contributing toward a more inclusive information society. Member States were encouraged to develop and implement initiatives to adopt codes of conduct relating to European media, and to promote and finance research and projects covering different aspects of digital media literacy. States were also directed to implement campaigns to raise awareness of online safety and data privacy risks, among other tasks. The media industry was asked to suggest tools for improving media literacy.

2010 – The iTEC (Innovative Technologies for Engaging Classrooms) program ran from 2010 to 2014. For this project, European Schoolnet worked with education ministries, technology providers and researchers to update the use of technology in schools. At the end of the project, an evaluation report was published.

2012 – Living Schools Lab was a two-year ICT project funded by the European Commission and managed by European Schoolnet. Its aim was to create a network of primary and secondary schools to showcase and share best practices for encompassing technology into teaching and learning, with continuous professional development opportunities for teachers. Project results are available on the LSL website.

The same year, the European Commission created the Future Classroom Lab. The Lab is a learning environment in Brussels that challenges visitors to reexamine the role of pedagogy, technology and design in classrooms. The project is supported by 30 ministries of education, working closely with ICT providers to ensure a sustainable learning platform. It offers trainings, tools and programming for educators as well.

2013 – The European Commission launched Open Education Europa as part of the Opening up Education Initiative, funded by the Erasmus+ programme. The goal of the website is to provide all existing European Open Educational Resources in different languages for students, teachers and researchers to access. The site includes MOOCs, discussion sections and an online journal. The Commission will provide funding for institutions working in online education through Erasmus+, requiring open access to ensure public accessibility.

From 2013 to 2015, Creative Classrooms Lab brought together teachers and policy-makers to test the use of tablets in 45 schools. The project’s website includes videos on the major takeaways from the experiment and webinars on the use of tablets in education. The project was funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme and was coordinated by European Schoolnet.

2014 – Horizon 2020 funding became available for research and innovation projects, implementing the Innovation Union. This includes grants to promote ICT research and innovation, with the goal of boosting the competitiveness of Europe’s public sector.

2015 –The eSkills for Jobs 2015 campaign aimed to respond to the demand for ICT-skilled professionals in Europe. The campaign involved hundreds of national and European events, skills competitions, social media marketing and lobbying. It targeted young people, ICT practitioners, businesses and policymakers.

The same year, the EU launched ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments). The program aims to reduce bullying through education and awareness raising. It will be implemented in six countries, and is designed to reach 6,000 children ages 11-14, 2,000 parents and 30 schools.

2016 – European Schoolnet released the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Toolkit. The project is designed for individuals, researchers, policy makers, and the nonprofit, commercial and the education sectors. It provides training and addresses topics such as open access, gender equity, ethics and governance, among others.

Also in 2016, the Future Classroom Lab published a report evaluating the use of Chromebooks in the classroom. The use of Chromebooks was studied in six schools in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Spain. According to the study, teachers found the learning process more efficient and students were enthusiastic about using the Chromebooks.

Better Internet for Kids

Originally created as the Safer Internet Programme in 1999, BIK is a core service platform for sharing resources, services and practices to promote Internet safety for young people. Its mission includes combatting child sexual exploitation. BIK’s Safer Internet Forum is an annual conference for policy makers, researchers, law enforcement, youth, parents, teachers, NGOs and other parties to discuss recent trends, risks and solutions for child online safety.

CEO Coaltion

This coalition of companies was established in 2011 as a self-regulatory initiative within the BIK program. Member companies agreed to take action to make the internet safer for children, by introducing reporting tools for users, age-appropriate privacy settings, procedures for taking down child sexual abuse materials and similar measures.

Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE)

It works to promote policies benefitting families and better inter-generational communication. Its #DeleteCyberbullying project aimed to raise awareness on cyberbullying across Europe, recommend public policies and develop tools for parents, educators and young people from 2013-2014.

EU Kids Online

This international research network is run out of the London School of Economics and Political Science. It aims to enhance knowledge of online opportunities, risks and safety for European children by conducting research in this area. It is funded by the Better Internet for Kids programme.

EURALO

The European regional at-large organization of ICANN, this group focuses on online security and privacy issues, and consumer protection.

Eurojust

Eurojust is the EU’s judicial cooperation unit. Its mission is to support and strengthen cooperation and coordination between national investigating and prosecuting authorities when serious crimes affect two or more Members States. A few focus areas include cybercrime, human trafficking and child protection.

European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online (eNASCO)

Funded by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Programme, eNASCO is a network of children’s rights NGOs from across Europe. Its aim is to achieve a safer online experience for children, and it provides information on child online sexual exploitation and related topics.

European Schoolnet

EUN is a network of 30 European Ministries of Education. Its mission is to foster innovation in teaching and learning, benefiting its key stakeholders: Ministries of Education, teachers, schools and researchers. One of its focus areas is online safety – it coordinates the Insafe network to help young people use the Internet positively, safely and effectively.

European School Network

This group was founded in 2006 to create an exchange network among nine European schools. ESN arranges one-to-one student exchanges for one to eight weeks, and also provides the possibility of teacher exchanges, group exchanges and student seminars.

Europol

Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency, tasked with supporting Member States in fighting international crimes and terrorism. Among its areas of focus are child sexual exploitation, high-tech crimes and cyber intelligence.

GSMA Europe

This industry association represents the interests of European mobile network operators. The group engages in lobbying in areas such as children’s use of mobile phones, privacy, digital inclusion and reducing the digital gender gap. In 2008, the organization formed a mobile alliance against child sexual abuse content.

ICT Coalition for Children Online

This industry association aims to teach young internet users digital literacy and online safety precautions. It encourages industry, government, schools and other organizations to work together toward this end.

INHOPE

In 1999, the European Commission founded INHOPE, the International Association of Internet Hotlines. INHOPE exists to support and enhance Internet Hotlines all over the world, remove illicit online content and end child sexual abuse on the Internet.

Innocence En Danger

This international NGO brings together activists, Internet specialists, policy makers and the media to raise awareness of the sexual exploitation of children online, and support child victims and their families.

Insafe Helplines

Part of Better Internet for Kids, this website provides data on problems associated with youth Internet use, including cyberbullying, grooming, excessive use and sexual harassment. Data is available by time period and helpline resources are available by country.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Europe

The ITU is is the UN agency for ICTs. Areas of focus in Europe include improving E-accessibility in Central and Eastern Europe, transitioning Europe to digital broadcasting, and sharing best practices for implementing e-applications.

Internet Governance Forum

The IGF was founded by the UN in 2006 to serve as a discussion platform for internet governance policy issues. It brings together various stakeholders to determine best practices for internet policy. Past areas of focus include cybersecurity, human rights, inclusivity and openness.

INTERPOL

INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries. Its mission is to enable police forces to collaborate globally to fight crime in the Internet age. Three areas of focus are crimes against children (with a focus on internet crimes and travelling sex offenders), cybercrime and human trafficking.

Learning Resource Exchange

This service provided by European Schoolnet enables schools to find educational content from various countries and providers. It enables an online network of learning content and tools, which includes lessons on digital literacy, data security and cyberbullying.

Missing Children Europe

This organization is made up of 30 NGOs working on behalf of missing and sexually exploited children. It works to protect children from harmful situations that may lead to, or result from, going missing by supporting cross-borders solutions, raising awareness, developing cooperative networks and promoting supportive legislation for children. The group’s mission also encompasses prevention and support strategies for children and families.

The EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA)

The agency aims to address and respond to cybersecurity concerns within the EU. It facilitates private and public sector cooperation to this end, and has also created resources on topics such as cyberbullying and online grooming.

The European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)

This online platform was created in 2008 to foster collaboration on public policy governing the Internet. EuroDIG hosts annual conferences in Europe.

Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT)

This international partnership was formed in 2003 by law enforcement agencies, NGOs and industry leaders. It aims to protect children from online sexual abuse, with the objectives of making the Internet safer, locating and helping at-risk children and holding perpetrators to account.

Children’s online risks and opportunities:Comparative findings from EU Kids Online and Net Children Go Mobile

Sonia Linvingstone, Giovanna Macheroni, Jartan Olafsson and Leslie Haddon

This report focuses on a comparison of findings from two EU-funded projects, EU Kids Online (2010) and Net Kids Go Mobile (2014), the latter of which concentrated on children's use of Internet on mobile devices.

One in Three: Internet Governance and Children’s Rights (2016)

S. Livingstone, J. Carr, J. Byrne

This paper argues that Internet governance bodies give little consideration to children’s rights and makes recommendations on how to improve international Internet governments from a children's rights perspective.

A Survey on the Transposition of Directive 2011/93/EU on Combating Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography (2016)

Together Against Sexual Exploitation of Children

The study examines how seven key provisions of Directive 2011/93/EU on the fight against sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography have been adopted by the 27 European Union (EU) Member States bound by the Directive.

Young People Who Produce and Send Nude Images: Context, Motivation and Consequences (2015)

L. Jonsson, K. Cooper, E. Quayle, C.G. Svedin, K. Hervy

For this study, researchers interviewed young people who self-reported sending or posting nude images of themselves before the age of 18.

Developing a Framework for Researching Children’s Online Risks and Opportunities in Europe (2015)

S. Livingstone, G. Mascheroni, E. Staksrud

The report reviews key findings produced from qualitative and quantitative research by EU Kids Online, and discusses the rationale for a revised model that reflects the findings better.

Child Sexual Abuse Materials and the Internet: Challenges for the Law Enforcement Agencies (2015)

J. Neverauskaitė

This analysis on child sexual abuse materials and the Internet focuses on the challenges law enforcement agencies face in quantifying this phenomenon.

Child Sexual Abuse Materials and the Internet: Influences and Motives of CSAM users online (2015)

J. Neverauskaitė

This report analyzes the presence of child sexual abuse materials on the Internet, aiming to determine motives, influences and interactions between users of child sexual abuse materials and the justifications they use to minimize their behavior.

In the Shadows of the Internet: Child Sexual Abuse Materials in the Darknets (2015)

J. Neverauskaitė

This paper focuses on the use of the darknet for child sexual abuse and its implications.

Net Children 2020: Growing up with Media (2015)

Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research

This paper lays out a roadmap for Europe to improve children's online experiences.

Mobile Opportunities: Exploring Positive Mobile Media Opportunities for European Children (2015)

J. Vincent

This report measures the positive online opportunities provided to children ages 9-16 through mobile devices.

Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technology: A Qualitative Exploratory Study Across Seven Countries (2015)

S. Chaudron

This report presents a pilot qualitative study designed and implemented in collaboration with a selected group of academic partners in different European countries that aims at pioneering in Europe the exploration of children younger than 8 years old and their families` experiences with new technologies.

The Meaning of Online Problematic Situations for Children: Results of Qualitative Cross-Cultural Investigation in Nine European Countries (2014)

D. Smahel, M.F. Wright

This research, based on interviews, focused on the following: what children perceive as being potentially negative or problematic while using the internet, what risks children are aware of when using the internet, what consequences online negative experiences might have, how children react to negative experiences, what children do to avoid or prevent these problematic experiences, and why children perceive certain situations as negative.

EU Kids Online: Findings, Methods, Recommendations (2014)

EU Kids Online

This study found that European children are more likely to be exposed to hate messages, pro-anorexia messages, cyberbullying and self-harm sites than in 2010, among other findings.

Children’s Use of Online Technologies in Europe: A Review of the European Evidence Base (2014)

K. Ólafsson, S. Livingstone, L. Haddon

This report provides an overview of past research on children's online behaviors, making recommendations for policy and future research.

Children’s Changing Online Experiences in a Longitudinal Perspective (2014)

U. Hasebrink

This report reflects on the conceptual and empirical work of the EU Kids Online network from a longitudinal perspective.

Policy Influences and Country Clusters: A Comparative Analysis of Internet Safety Policy Implementation (2014)

B. O'Neill

The report examines the policy context of internet safety and looks at how countries within each cluster approach implementation.

Children’s Online Risks and Opportunities: Comparative Findings from EU Kids Online and Net Children Go Mobile (2014)

S. Livingstone, G. Mascheroni, K. Ólafsson, L. Haddon

This study focuses on European children's internet habits, their exposure to risks and parental mediation strategies.

Mapping Safer Internet Policies in the Member States (2014)

P. Baudouin, B. Mahieu, T. Dor, B. Good, J. Milayi, S. Nakajima

The purpose of the study was to set up a framework for analysing Better Internet for Children public policies covering EU Member States, and Norway and Iceland.

First Report on the Implementation of the ICT Principles (2014)

B. O'Neill

This paper evaluates the implementation of child online safety measures in Europe, including parental controls, child sexual abuse and education efforts.

INHOPE Annual Report, 2013-2014 (2014)

INHOPE

The report provides information on INHOPE's efforts to eradicate online child sexual abuse content in Europe.

European Children and Their Carers’ Understanding of Use, Risks and Safety Issues Relating to Convergent Mobile Media (2014)

L. Haddon, J. Vincent

This study focuses on children’s experience of mobile media and the mobile internet, with an emphasis on smartphones and tablets, based on a qualitative study of children, their parents, teachers and others working with young people in nine European countries.

Net Children Go Mobile: Cross-national Comparisons (2014)

G. Mascheroni, K. Ólafsson

This paper aims to understand and distinguish the mobile internet experience from the PC-based internet experience in terms of opportunities and risks.

Net Children Go Mobile: Final Report (2014)

G. Mascheroni, A. Cuman

The paper reports the findings of research in nine countries on children's use of technology, risky behaviors and parental mediation.

Risks and Safety on the Internet comparing Brazilian and European Results (2013)

Alexandre Barbosa, Brian O’Neill, Cristina Ponte, José Alberto Simões, Tatiana Jereissati

This study compares the results of the survey of Brazilian children and their parents/guardians, carried out by the Brazilian Internet Steering. Using the same methodology as the EU Kids Online research which has been carried out as part of the EU's Safer Internet Program, the results from Brazil are compared with those from Europe.

In Their Own Words: What Bothers Children Online? With the EU Kids Online Network (2013)

S. Livingstone, L. Kirwil, C. Ponte, E. Staksrud

The study measured what more than 10,000 children found upsetting online.

Voices of Young Europe (2013)

Child Helpline International

This report examines information collected from child helplines about the contacts they receive over the last decade, and calls for government action to fill gaps in child protection efforts.

Towards a Better Internet for Children: Policy Pillars, Players and Paradoxes (2013)

B. O'Neill, E. Staksrud, S. Mclaughlin

The book reviews the development of internet safety policy against the background of better evidence about the reality of young people’s experiences, and looks to its future.

Latest Thinking on European Policies and Practices (2013)

E. Morris

This policy brief focuses on the state of online safety, digital citizenship and data privacy in Europe.

Zero to Eight: Young Children and Their Internet Use (2013)

Holloway, Donell, Green, Lelia and Livingstone, Sonia

This report reviews a number of other studies and provides recommendations as to how younger children can be protected from online risks.

European Online Grooming Project: Final Report (2012)

S. Webster, J. Davidson, A. Bifulco, P. Gottschalk, V. Caretti, T. Pham, J. Grove-Hills, C. Turley, C. Tompkins; S. Ciulla, V. Milazzo, A. Schimmenti G. Craparo

The report evaluates the impact of the European Online Grooming Project, and provides information on common characteristics of the grooming process and the prevalance of the issue.

Excessive Internet Use among European Children (2012)

David Smahel, Ellen Helsper, Lelia Green, Veronika Kalmus, Lukas Blinka and Kjartan Ólafsson

This report uses the data from the EU Kids Online study to examine excessive use of the Internet by children in the 25 participating countries.

Children, Risk and Safety on the Internet: Research and Policy Challenges in Comparative Perspective (2012)

S. Livingstone, L. Haddon, A. Görzig

This book argues that children are gaining the digital skills, coping strategies and social support they need to effectively use digital tools, but also identifies the struggles and risk factors children encounter online.

Excessive Internet Use by European Children (2012)

D. Smahel, E. Helsper, L. Green, V. Kalmus, L. Blinka, K. Ólafsson

This report presents new findings and further analysis of the EU Kids Online 25-country survey regarding excessive use of the internet by children.

Safety & Privacy in a Digital Europe (2012)

E. Morris

The policy brief focuses on internet safety and privacy efforts in Europe.

Risks and Safety on the Internet: The Perspective of European Children (2011)

S. Livingstone, L. Haddon, A. Görzig, K. Ólafsson

This report publishes the findings of a detailed survey of 25,000 European children and their parents in 25 countries on the opportunities and risks of internet use.

Risks and safety on the internet: the perspective of European children: full findings and policy implications from the EU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents in 25 countries (2011)

Livingston, S., Haddon, L., Görzig, A., and Ólafsson, K.

Building on the original study, EU Kids Online I, this second piece of research includes the findings from research which took place in 25 countries. Children in the 9 – 16 age group were surveyed on their experiences of online use, risk and safety.

Online As Soon As It Happens (2010)

ENISA

The report describes the social networking world and mobile phone services, illustrating the major risks and threats connected to their use as well.

EU Kids Online: final report 2009 (2009)

Livingston, S. and Haddon, L.

One of the foremost pieces of research into the online habits of children in the European Union is the EU Kids Online research, published in 2009 by Professor Sonia Livingstone and Dr. Leslie Haddon. Funded by the EC Safer Internet plus Programme between 2006 and 2009, the report examined the research findings of 21 member states into how children and young people use the Internet and other online facilities such as instant messaging

Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU (2009)

European Commission

The internet, along with other new technologies, has brought citizens and consumers enormous bene ts over the past fteen years, in terms of communication, information, e-commerce and enter- tainment. The latest wave of technologies, grouped as ‘web 2.0 technologies’, which includes SNSs, has triggered further evolution in the way people, especially young people, communicate with friends, access entertainment and engage with communities of interest.

European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children (2007)

Unknown

European mobile providers and content providers have developed national and corporate initiatives to ensure safer use of mobiles including by younger teenagers and children. These already cover most EU Member States.

Online Behaviour Related to Child Sexual Abuse (0000)

M.Ainsaar and L. Lööf

The ROBERT project focuses on making the online experience safe for all children. Especial attention is given to online sexual exploitation of at risk youth.

  • Joint Action 96/700/JHA, of 29 November 1996, adopted by the Council pursuant to Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, establishing an incentive and exchange program for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. The joint action was designed to take place between 1996 and 2000 to establish a program for the exchange of information between Member States on the trade of human beings and the sexual exploitation of children.
  • Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 17 February 1997 on Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet. In this resolution the Council noted the positive benefits offered by the Internet, especially in relation to education and the way in which it empowers citizens, and lowers barriers to the creation and distribution of content. Whilst taking this into account, the Council urged Member States to encourage self-regulatory systems and filtering technology to ensure online safety.
  • Joint Action 97/154/JHA of 24 February 1997 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union Concerning Action to Combat Trafficking in Human beings and Sexual Exploitation of Children. This action aimed to standardize the methods taken to combat human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. It required all Member States to review their current laws and to ensure that national legislation met the minimum requirements set down in the Action.
  • Decision No 276/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 January 1999 Adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan on Promoting Safer use of the Internet by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks. This saw the adoption of an action plan which ran between 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2002. The plan had the aim of promoting safer use of the Internet as well as encouraging the development of the Internet by industry. In order to do this the European parliament sought to promote industry self-regulation and content monitoring schemes, encourage filtering tools and rating systems, and to increase awareness of the advantages of the Internet among parents, teachers and children.
  • The Commission Communication COM (2006) 367, 4.7.2006. Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. The 2006 communication from the Commission aimed to address policies from the EU institutions and from Member States with respect to the rights of children. It aimed to both promote these rights and safeguard them, underlining the fact that the EU sees these rights as fundamental and that Member States are bound to respect them. The Commission aimed to develop a strategy to ensure that the EU contributes to promoting and safeguarding children’s rights and called on Member States and the other EU institutions to support and develop this aim.
  • Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity and on the Right of Reply in Relation to the Competitiveness of the European Audiovisual and On-line Information Services Industry. This required that Member States took measures to ensure that minors were able to make responsible use of audiovisual and online services. This included promoting a responsible attitude by minors to online content and taking action to combat illegal Internet activity. It required the adoption of initiatives that promoted greater cooperation between the regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory bodies of the Member States, as well as the exchange of best practices concerning warning messages to help users assess the content of the services. Additionally it sought to promote media literacy amongst the public and especially children by way of continuing education of teachers, specific Internet training for children from an early age, with help for parents, and the development of national campaigns involving all communications media to provide information on using the Internet responsibly.
  • Commission Communication COM (2007) 267, 22.5.2007. Towards a General Policy on the Fight Against Cyber Crime. The Communication addresses what it considers to be the three main types of cyber crime; specifically those which it deems ‘traditional crimes’ such as fraud or forgery, illegal content such as child abuse images and, finally, crimes which are ‘unique’ to electronic networks such as hacking. The communication highlights the importance of a cross-border approach to these offenses and launches a general policy initiative to improve European and international coordination and cooperation in the fight against cybercrime.
  • Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities. This directive saw the amendment of the previous directive on television broadcasting to incorporate the new methods of broadcasting. This included a distinction between linear services i.e. the traditional services which ‘push’ content to viewers and the new non-linear services where viewers ‘pull’ content. This directive introduced a regulatory framework for these new services including for the protection of minors. On advertising the Commission maintained the twelve minutes per hour rule but allowed for more discretion as to when that took place, abolishing the 20 minute between each break rule. Children’s programs may only be broken into once during a 35 minute period. Media Service Providers were also encouraged to develop guidelines on inappropriate audio visual communication occurring during children’s television programming, including those relating to food.
  • EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child. (December 2007) This is the document on which the EU planned to base the future worldwide protection and promotion of the rights of the child. It aimed to give the rights of children increased prominence on the international stage as well as stressing the EU’s commitment to the principles. The abuses that it was most concerned with included child labor, violence, sexual abuse, diseases and armed conflict. Additionally it provided special protection for girls. To achieve its objectives the EU looked to use international cooperation, partnerships with international stakeholders and political dialogue to include children’s issues in negotiations.
  • Audiovisual Media Services Directive. (October 2010) This directive governs coordination of national legislation on audiovisual media throughout the EU. The directive takes into account the spread of ICT, the importance of technological developments for business models, and the need to respect cultural and linguistic diversity. The commission adopted the i2010: European Information Society initiative to foster growth and jobs in the information society and media industries. This strategy aims to encourage the production of European content, the development of the digital economy and the use of ICT. With regard to minors, audiovisual commercial communications shall not cause physical or moral harm: Content shall not exhort minors to buy products by exploiting their inexperience, encourage them to persuade their parents to buy a product or service advertised, exploit the trust minors place in parents and teachers, or unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations. Member states shall also take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasts do not include content such as pornography or gratuitous violence that may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors.
  • General Data Protection Regulation. (April 2016) This law states that children’s personal data merits specific protection, as they may be less aware of risks and their rights. Given that children merit specific protections, any information and communications directed at children regarding the collection of personal data should be in easily understandable language. Further, individuals have the “right to be forgotten” when retention of their personal data infringes on this regulation or EU or member state law. Such an individual has the right to have his or her personal data erased where the data is no longer necessary for the purposes for which it was collected, the individual has withdrawn his or her consent, or where the processing of the data does not comply with this regulation. This right is relevant particularly when the subject gave his or her consent as a child and was not fully aware of associated risks, and later wants to remove the data.
  • Policing and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive. (April 2016) With regard to children, this directive states that information on data privacy should be expressed in clear and plain language, to be easily understood. Those controlling personal data should implement specific safeguards for the treatment of vulnerable groups such as children.

1998 – The EU passed a Council Recommendation on the protection of minors in audiovisual and information services. This was the first legal instrument of its kind in the EU and made important distinctions between child pornography, which is illegal, and adult pornography.

2000 – An EU Council Decision was approved to combat online child pornography. This decision of the Council required Member States to implement the means to report child pornography found on the Internet. This involved the establishment of specialized units within law enforcement authorities with the expertise to respond promptly to reports from the public as to this type of material. The decision also sought to ensure cooperation between all Member States to combat online child pornography as well as maintaining close contact with industry to facilitate the production of filters and other technological means to prevent the spread of child pornography.

2001 – Europol launched Focal Point Twins, a program to support EU Member States in preventing and combating crimes associated with the sexual exploitation of children. It was created to provide expertise and assistance on combatting the distribution of child abuse material online and ending other forms of criminal online behavior against children, including grooming and sexual extortion.

2004 – The EU passed a Council Framework Decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The decision lists a number of behaviors which it considers should be illegal in Member States including coercing a child into prostitution or sexual exploitation and engaging in sexual acts with a child. It also gives clearer definitions as to the exact behaviors that should be unlawful in relation to child pornography including, production, distribution, supply or possession. Further, there are a number of aggravating factors that must be taken into account by legislators in the Member States including the age of a child victim. With regard to interaction between Member States, the framework decision clarifies the criteria for determining jurisdiction over offenses.

2006 – The European Parliament and Council approved recommendations on the protection of minors and human dignity, and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and online information services industry.

2007 – The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation was ratified. The law defines various forms of child sexual abuse as criminal offenses, and provides preventative measures such as screening people who work with children and educating children on risks of sexual abuse. It also establishes programs to support victims and criminalizes the solicitation of children for sexual purposes through grooming or sex tourism.

2010 – Europol launched Project HAVEN – Halting Europeans Abusing Victims in Every Nation, which aims to detect and disrupt the travel of sex offenders originating from the EU who exploit children in the EU and in other countries.

The same year, 28 children were rescued as a result of a joint investigation led by Europol and the UK Metropolitan Police, called Operation Golf. A Joint Investigation Team between the Metropolitan Police and Romanian National Police worked on dismantling an organized Romanian crime network that exploited Roma children.

2011 – Two laws were passed, replacing the 2004 legislation on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The first provision, Fighting Online Child Sexual Abuse, defines criminal offenses relating to the sexual abuse of children, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and establishes minimum sentences. These laws apply to online child pornography and soliciting children via the Internet for sexual purposes. EU countries must ensure that child pornography web pages hosted within their territory are promptly removed and can block access to such web pages under certain conditions.

The other law, Combating the Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography, defines thresholds for imprisonment depending on the seriousness of the crime and the child’s age. Enticement to commit an offense is also punishable. A person convicted for one of these offenses must be prevented from entering employment that involves working with children directly and regularly. Information on sex offenders must be sent to other Member States. The provision defines child victims of these crimes as particularly vulnerable victims and mandates the provision of support services to victims before, during and after criminal proceedings.

EC3 and European countries joined forces for Operation Rescue and Operation Icarus. Operation Rescue focused on arresting child sex offenders and rescuing victims. Suspected child sex offenders were members of an online forum operated from the Netherlands, which was taken down. Operation Icarus carried out an operation against online child sex abuse networks, working to target those sharing the most extreme video material.

2012 – 54 countries signed a joint initiative by the EU and United States to create a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. These countries committed to the following policy targets with the goal of rescuing victims, effectively prosecuting crimes and reducing the number of child sexual abuse images available online: (1) bolster efforts to identify victims and ensure they receive necessary assistance and protection; (2) increase efforts to investigate child sexual abuse online, and to identify and prosecute offenders; (3) raise risk awareness among children, parents, educators and communities; and (4) reduce the availability of child pornography online and reduce re-victimization of children.

The same year, the United States FBI and several EU states worked under the coordination of EC3 to conduct Operation Atlantic. The FBI and Member States dismantled a network of child sex offenders and arrested them. Meanwhile, Operation Atelier brought together EC3 and Eurojust to support an international investigation into a network of professional photographers that produced and distributed child abuse material.

2013 – The European Cybercrime Center (EC3) was established within Europol, the EU law enforcement agency to focus on cybercrimes committed by organized groups, cybercrimes which cause serious harm to the victim such as online child sexual exploitation and cybercrimes affecting critical information systems in the EU.

2015 – The European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online (EFC) published a report, updating data and findings from a 2013 report. The updated report also examines global definitions of commercial child sexual exploitation, trends in online child sexual exploitation, the scale of commercial distribution, and information on the Deep Web and Darknet.

Also in 2015, Europol hosted a 12-day Victim Identification Task Force. Experts in victim identification worked to analyze data and investigate clues to identify victims of child sexual abuse and improve investigations.