Facebook shows its support for joint EU-US online safety declaration

Sheryl Sandberg confirms Facebook's commitment to keeping people safe online with support for the joint declaration today between the European Commission and US Department of Homeland Security.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
Sheryl Sandberg Facebook
Credit: Facebook

Facebook has announced that it is 'proud to support' the joint declaration signed in London today between the European Commission and US Department of Homeland Security.

This declaration is intended to raise awareness and announce that the two organisations will work together on online safety for young people to make sure they have the best possible experience online.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also intends to participate in the European Union's Safer Internet Day for young people on February 5th, 2013.

Industry, public authorities, schools, and civil society will be asked to pool their efforts to ensure that the message reaches the largest audience possible.

The joint declaration sets out the commitment ’to work collectively and in partnership to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of the Internet for children’.

The commitment intends to carry out a number of actions:

Children, their parents, and teachers should be aware of risks, to understand what they are doing when they go online, and to have the skills to make the best use of the opportunities the Internet can offer them.

Parents and guardians should be able to trust the content and services their children access. Here we intend to continue working with industry, law enforcement, and other stakeholders so that parents and children can make informed choices online.

Contributing to international cooperation in fighting child sexual abuse online in the immediate future’.

The declaration today is a result of the working group on cyber security and cyber crime.

The European Commission also brokers a coalition which consists of 31 companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia, RIM and Samsung. The coalition was formed in 2011 with the aims ‘to make the Internet a better place for children’.

Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook thanked everyone for taking part in the summit particularly European Vice President Neelie Kroes and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for ‘their leadership’ in making this happen.

Facebook stated its commitment to keeping people safe online.

Sandberg recognises that the Internet gives many opportunities for young people. ‘It is not just a tool for homework but a gateway to new skills, new ideas and a place where children can express themselves and expand their horizons’ she said.

Sandberg wishes to make the Internet ‘safe and secure for everyone’ and ‘build a community based on trust accountability and respect’.

‘safety can only be achieved through shared responsibility between parents, teachers, policy makers, industry and civil society’

The coalition hopes to collaborate on cyber security awareness-raising efforts to unite approaches and share developed material, such as messaging under the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign.

Sandberg says that Facebook is working hard to make the Internet safe for children and has fostered a culture based on ‘real names and authentic identity – where people have to take responsibility for their actions online’.

It receives advice from the Safety Advisory board and has added reporting tools across its Family Safety site and has simplified its Help Centre on the desktop and on its mobile platform.

Social reporting allows users to get help from Facebook, a trusted friend, parent and teacher who might have a better understanding of the situation and help to address it.

Its privacy controls have been ‘designed specially for the needs of young people in order to provide greater protection’ and Facebook says it is focused on treating safety ‘as a conversation’.

It is providing parents and educators with advice and resources to educate and engage young people and thinks that every company in the industry can do more to draw upon the latest expertise.

International cooperation is essential to be effective in fighting child sexual abuse online.

The Virtual Global Taskforce on law enforcement collaboration works to combat child sexual abuse worldwide. Interpol houses an international database of child exploitation images to facilitates law enforcement cooperation.

And Facebook with its huge number of child accounts has a major part to play in ensuring that all of our children are safe online.

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