European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children
The European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children is a self-regulatory initiative of the European mobile industry, which puts forward recommendations to ensure that younger teenagers and children can safely access content on their mobile phones. The recommendations are as follows:
- Classification of commercial content – mobile operators’ own and third-party commercial content should be classified in line with existing national standards of decency and appropriateness so as to identify content unsuitable for viewing by children and younger teenagers;
- Access control mechanisms – appropriate means for parents for controlling children’s access to this content should be provided;
- Education and awareness-raising – mobile operators should work to raise awareness and provide advice to parents on safer use of mobile services, and ensure customers have ready access to mechanisms for reporting safety concerns;
- Fighting illegal content on mobile community products and the Internet – mobile operators should work with law enforcement agencies, national authorities and INHOPE or equivalent bodies to combat illegal content on the Internet.
The Framework agreement was finalised following a number of meetings of the High Level Group on Child Protection, which was set up by Commissioner Viviane Reding in November 2006 and brought together GSMA Europe, mobile operators, content providers, children’s charities and the European Commission. Signature by mobile operators and content providers took place on Safer Internet Day on 6 February 2007 in Brussels.
Since February 2007, GSMA Europe and participating mobile operators have been working on ensuring the timely implementation of the Framework. Related activities have focused on:
- Encouraging the participation of more mobile operators;
- Ensuring the roll-out of national self-regulatory codes of conduct on safer mobile use in the EU Member States;
- Facilitating faster and qualitatively better implementation of self-regulatory codes of conduct by organising an internal workshop for signatory mobile operators in Brussels on 10 July 2008 with the objective to share good practice;
- Raising awareness about the project by launching a dedicated microsite and by organising a breakfast debate with Members of the European Parliament in June 2007 and a seminar with EU policy-makers in April 2008
As of June 2010, there are 83 signatory companies implementing the Framework through the roll-out of national voluntary agreements (“codes of conduct”). A further eight mobile operators have only signed up to a national code of conduct but as such are still participating in the initiative. The Framework recommendations are not prescriptive. Mobile operators have implemented them in different ways to reflect the diversity of their services and marketing models, as well as to cater for national societal norms and values. National codes of conduct are currently in place in 25 EU Member States and under development in the remaining two. This means that around 96% of all mobile subscribers in the European Union benefit from the Framework.
GSMA Europe committed to cooperate with the European Commission in monitoring the implementation of the Framework- this commitment was expressed in a letter sent to the Commission in January 2007. To date, GSMA Europe and participating mobile operators took part in three implementation reviews of the Framework:
- The March 2008 implementation report highlighted key achievements one year on from the signature of the Framework. Download the report.
- In April 2009, Pricewaterhouse Coopers published a second implementation report. The report showed that the Framework had been transposed into codes of conduct in 22 EU Member States and that mobile operator signatories had taken substantial action to implement these codes alongside other voluntary activities. The areas showing the highest level of compliance- both in terms of transposition into codes of conduct and practical implementation by operators- were those related to the introduction of access control mechanisms for mobile operators’ own and third-party commercial content and the classification of such content. Areas of lower compliance- in the codes and on the ground- included some of the Framework recommendations linked to raising awareness about safer mobile use and fighting illegal child abuse content on mobile community products and the internet. Download the report.
- In June 2010, participating mobile operators issued national implementation reports focus on the implementation of national codes of conduct on child protection across the European Union. The reports show an overall high level of compliance of mobile operators with their national codes of conduct. Many of the codes contain requirements that go beyond the scope of the Framework, demonstrating mobile operators’ willingness to go the extra mile in encouraging the safe and responsible use of mobile phones by children. Furthermore, feedback from child protection stakeholders indicates that national codes of conduct have played a key role in getting mobile operators engaged with each other and the NGO sector in making the mobile environment safer for children. Download the reports and a summary of the main findings.
Download the reports and a summary of the main findings.
- In January 2012 a number of GSMA Europe members joined the ICT Coalition for the Safer Use of Connected Devices and Online Services by Children and Young People (‘the ICT Coalition’). This pan industry coalition aims to help younger internet users across Europe to make the most of the online world and deal with any potential challenges and risks. Members of the ICT Coalition signed up to a set of guiding principles on online safety. These principles build on the GSMA Safer Mobile Framework and GSMA Europe member signatories continue to honour their existing commitments to the Safer Mobile Framework within the umbrella framework of the ICT Coalition. Members of the ICT Coalition also committed to an independent review of their implementation reports, the first such report will be made available online next week. For those GSMA Europe members who have not joined the ICT Coalition, the GSMA has produced a fourth implementation report exploring how they are meeting and the requirements of the national codes of conduct developed under the umbrella of the Safer Mobile Framework.
Download the report