The European Parliament has commissioned the law and policy consultancy Milieu Ltd to deliver the ‘Research Paper on cyberbullying among young people’. The aim of this paper is to provide information on the scale/nature of cyberbullying among young people in the EU and on Member States’ legislation and policies aimed at preventing and tackling this phenomenon as well as on good practices in this area.
In the framework of this research, Milieu Ltd has contacted us to help them spread the word and disseminate the EU Survey on ‘Cyberbullying among young people’. The purpose of the survey is to collect the views of young people (between 12 and 21 years old) of cyberbullying and to test the good practices and recommendations identified through research at national level.
If you have between 12 and 21 years old, we invite you to fill in the survey (available in 10 languages):
Greek : http://goo.gl/forms/7heEEFYzhD
Thanks a lot for your cooperation!
On the 18th of January, Carnegie Europe, in partnership with Microsoft and in association with the Dutch Presidency, organized a conference on devising policies which help to maximize the value of technology while preserving our core values. Several high level key note speakers took the floor including Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, and Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality.
The key topics discussed, from COFACE’s perspective were balancing privacy with security/safety, the latest developments and implications for the Internet of Things, transparency and user trust and finally, the development of Big Data.
Balancing privacy with security/safety
Given the recent terrorist attacks in France and in many other parts of the world, the “mood” has shifted from a focus on privacy following the Snowden revelations to security and public safety. Privacy is often pitched against security and safety, in the sense that one cannot have both privacy and security/safety. To some extent, this is true. If States were allowed to limitlessly monitor and skim through all data, perhaps some terrorist attacks could be prevented. However, the assumption on which this trade-off is built is a gross over-simplification of the world we live in. Pitching privacy against security/safety fails to address more pressing issues such as rethinking the foreign policies of our National governments and actions at international level which may indirectly or directly encourage terrorism. Should we therefore keep selling weapons all over the world, apply very cynical policies or “real politik” across the world, failing to address the hardships that citizens in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan are facing, failing also to recognize our governments’ responsibilities in creating the mess and at the same time implement mass surveillance as a means to prevent terrorism? There may be no dilemma or trade-off between privacy and security/safety after all. Privacy simply needs to go along with measures to curb inequalities, bring about more responsible, humanist foreign policies and eliminate discriminations, exclusions and the ghettoization of specific minorities.
The Internet of Things
While for end users, innovations in the field of IoT (Internet of Things) seem very attractive, especially in their potential to make their lives easier (automated heating, managing your fridge’s content…), they also gives rise to a number of challenges:
– A lack of standardization in terms of communication protocols, security, privacy protection, etc could break the very principle of the openness that the Internet was built on, with each actor trying to impose his “standard” for IoT.
– How can users access data generated by IoT and under which format should they receive it?
– How can users control data generated/transmitted by IoT? Will there be a way to switch the connectivity off?
– IoT is extremely complex from a liability point of view and includes many “layered legals”. Who is responsible in case something goes wrong? Often, there multiple companies involved to make IoT work. For instance, in the case of an automated heating service, car companies are involved (to send a signal from the vehicle when the user gets close to home), online cloud services, the IoT device itself and potentially even more (if there is a third party software on the IoT device…).
– The combination of Big Data and IoT may also usher in a “Premium” vs. “Freemium” era, where consumers are offered discounts based on their behaviours, at the expense of quality of service. Many examples illustrate how IoT and Big Data can be used for better or for worse. Hotels for instance, can gather data on a consumers’ habits (does he/she usually heat the room, how many towels does he/she use, etc…) to save energy, water… but this data could also be used to propose “Ryanair” type discounts to consumers at the expense of quality (if a consumer agrees not to use the air conditioning, or not use any towels, he/she will get a discount…) or even discriminations (should a consumer take long showers or baths, he/she would be proposed systematically higher prices for hotels).
Transparency and user trust
User trust is absolutely essential if companies wish them to embrace the current revolutions in IoT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence etc. However, this poses a serious challenge. How can a company be transparent about highly technical and complex issues such as Big Data? To give a concrete example, credit scores, which are automatically calculated using algorithms and Big Data are all but transparent to consumers.
In the end, while transparency is a necessity, ensuring that a quality regulatory framework is in place will also help in securing user’s trust. As Brad Smith has pointed out, regulation should be clear and predictable, rights of people need to be respected and their rights need to have remedies.
Big Data is a relatively new phenomenon and users are only getting familiar with its implications and the possibilities such a technology offers. There are many questions that users are struggling with:
– How much is my data worth? Am I getting my “data’s worth” when I’m using a service which relies on the use of personal data in its business model?
– Is there a trade-off between sharing my personal data and the service I am receiving? Can this data be used against me?
– How can I have more control over the data I am sharing and how the data I share influences my online experience?
All of which will need to be addressed if users are to entrust companies with their data.
To finish, COFACE fully agrees with the lead statement of the conference: advancing technology, preserving fundamental rights. This balance will certainly need to be struck in the years to come and COFACE will reflect on all the latest developments to ensure that users get the most out of technology.
Today, children connect to the internet with mobile devices at an ever earlier age. Fast evolution in the field of ICT creates new challenges and opportunities.
While some years ago parents could still monitor their children’s use of the internet on the home computer, access to the internet has become ever more mobile. Children have, at their fingertips, access to an unprecedented wealth of information and a way to interact with the whole world. At the same time, a certain set of skills are needed to make the most out of the internet. Challenges such as cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate or harmful content, exposure to advertising and excessive use/time spent on the internet are real and can have enduring negative effects on the development of children.
What can we do?
In essence, keeping children safe online is the responsibility of all actors. Parents, teachers, service providers, hardware manufacturers, policy makers…
At the same time, parents are the primary educators of children and in the case of young children, parents are virtually the sole reference for establishing healthy habits and adhering to core values such as respect, be it online or offline.
Children need to learn as early as possible about their rights and responsibilities and parents are among the first to initiate this learning process.
Knowledge these two dimensions can help children put into better perspective and react better to issues such as cyberbullying, by knowing what rights they have should they be a victim and by keeping in mind the consequences should they be a perpetrator.
But all parents are not IT-savy and do not feel comfortable or capable to discuss and exchange about the online world with their children. To that end, COFACE has set up a resources page on its website to help reference and share good practices and resources that can help parents in their essential parenting role.
For more information, please have a look at our resources page.
Cyberbullying is not about technology, but about the way technology is used. Just like a baseball bat’s main purpose is to engage in a sporting activity, if someone uses it to hit another person, it can cause serious damage.
Cyberbullying is not such a new phenomenon, since it is linked to bullying in general. There have always been bullies, who thrive on the mockery and humiliation of others and there always will be. What makes it so unique in its viciousness is that compared to school-yard bullying (or offline bullying) the target has no way to get a break or get away from it. Cyberbullying is open for business 24/7. Nasty text messages, ridiculing e-mails, fake websites or troll Facebook accounts enable the bully to pursue its victim after school hours. Especially since text messages and other form of messages can spread like wildfire.
To make it more specific, imagine an awkward teenager standing in front of his class, reciting a lesson which he/she may not have fully prepared for. A pretty humiliating experience in itself, one that I believe only a few of us have not experienced. Now imagine a classmate filming this on his/her Smartphone and promptly posting it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and/or other social media sites teens are using these days.
This is why there is still a massive need for awareness and education, of parents, of teachers and of children themselves. Even if perhaps a large portion of cyberbullying starts out as casual joking and just having fun from the bully’s point of view, bullying is never ok, and children and young people need to understand its consequences…