EU ministers back €45m fund for child safety online


10 Jun 2004

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EU Communications Ministers today agreed to spend €45m over four years on a new programme aimed at promoting a safe environment online for children. The latest funding is double the amount spent on the first such programme, which concluded in 2002.

As previously reported in siliconrepublic.com, between 2005 and 2008 the second EU Safer Internet Plan will form part of a fight against illegal, harmful or unwanted content. The focus of the programme will remain on parents, educators and children.

Much of the funding will go to support hotlines across the EU, particularly for the new accession States. Hotlines provide police and the relevant authorities with vital information in exposing and curbing child trafficking and child pornography. In addition to improving these hotlines where the public can report dangerous websites, the programme also has provisions to fund the use of technologies that limit the amount of unwanted and harmful content which they receive. In addition, the money can be used to assess the effectiveness of filtering technology which could be deployed.

As had been indicated earlier by EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, the scope of the project will be broadened to include new media and new issues such as unsolicited commercial email, also known as spam.

Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, chaired today’s meeting in Luxembourg. He pointed out that not all Member States had been in agreement with today’s funding proposal but after setting out the needs and benefits of the plan we were able to gain the necessary support.

“I am confident that the new European Parliament will endorse today’s decision when they convene shortly to study the new Action Plan,” Ahern added. “The EU Safer Internet projects have already proved their worth. Last October it led to remarkable achievements, including the October 2003 break-up of a world-wide child-porn ring thanks to a tip from the internet hotline association.”

By Gordon Smith