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Council of Europe must establish legal framework to protect children online – O’Reilly

19th April 2024 - Senator Joe O'Reilly

The 46 member states of the Council of Europe can ensure the safety of children online is prioritised by coming together to adopt a legal framework, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Fine Gael Foreign Affairs Spokesperson in the Seanad, Senator Joe O’Reilly added that this framework must include the introduction of effective age verification measures on websites, raising awareness among parents and caregivers, and implementing school-based educational programs on digital literacy and resilience.

Senator O’Reilly was speaking after his report on “The protection of children against online violence”, was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today (Friday).

Addressing the assembly, he emphasised the need to shield children from violence in the digital environment. Senator O’Reilly’s report recognises the profound impact of online violence on children, especially with the surge in internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“We have to address a pressing reality; the safety of our children online is constantly under fire. The internet, while a great source of knowledge and creativity, has become a breeding ground for violence, exploitation, and abuse,” Senator O’Reilly stated.

“There needs to be increased collaboration with stakeholders in the technology industry to develop policies and regulatory frameworks that prioritise child protection. We must work closely with technology companies to integrate safety and privacy features into their products and services.

“In tandem with that, governments worldwide must work together on this to accede to relevant treaties and mechanisms aimed at protecting children’s rights and it’s in that context that the Council of Europe has a real opportunity here to show leadership”.

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