Facebook will join academics at London international children’s digital rights forum

“Unless and until Governments – ours and others – stop giving tech a free pass, we will have a situation where the needs of multinational corporations are given precedent over the needs of children.” That’s the stark warning from children's rights campaigner and filmmaker Baroness Beeban Kidron.

She will be speaking at the Information Law and Policy Centre’s (ILPC) Annual Conference 2017 – Children and digital rights: regulating freedoms and safeguards at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London next week (November 17).

Baroness Beeban KidronBaroness Kidron (pictured), founder of the 5Rights campaign, added, “One person’s regulatory boundaries are often someone else's freedom. The digital environment is designed with adults in mind, but a third of its nearly 3 billion users are children. This is not a question of locking them out, or sticking them in walled gardens.

“This is a societal shift that says the digital environment must take account of the age of the user, when that user is a child. Because children are children until they reach maturity, not until they reach for their smartphone.”

It’s a message that will help focus the discussions with other attendees, experts from industry, policy-making and academia, including Facebook's policy director for the UK, Middle East and Africa Simon Milner, who recently revealed to a House of Lords committee that many UK parents help their children evade Facebook's minimum age (13) policy.

An article in The Guardian (see "Facebook executive accuses UK parents of flouting age restrictions") quoted him as saying, “It’s a really fundamental problem. We’ve not found a ready-made solution … when millions of parents are making that decision, how can we enforce our policy?”

Cartoon child at computerConference-goers will address and examine the key legal frameworks and policies being used and developed to safeguard children’s freedoms and rights. It’s a timely event given increasing concern about children’s safety and well-being in their ever-expanding digital environments.

Top of the agenda will be ensuring the adequate protection of a child’s rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and safety, both online and offline. "The Internet provides children with more opportunities to discover, create, learn, share, and engage with society than ever before and this should be welcomed," says Dr Nóra Ni Loideain, director of the ILPC, part of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. "However, all too often these great opportunities also present challenges of unnecessary targeting and monitoring, and exposure to inappropriate, manipulated, or false information that may threaten the adequate protection of children’s rights and freedoms."

Key speakers, chairs and participants will provide a range of national and international legal insights and perspectives from the UK, Israel, Australia and Europe. Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Anna Morgan, deputy data protection commissioner of Ireland
  • Lisa Atkinson, Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Graham Smith, solicitor and leading expert in UK internet law
  • John Carr, UK Council on Child Internet Safety
  • Professor Ian Walden, Queen Mary University of London
  • Vladlena Benson, professor of cybersecurity, University of West London
  • Rachael Bishop, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

More information

The ILPC’s Annual Conference and Lecture takes place on November 17, 9.30am to 5.30pm, at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR, followed by an evening reception. Admission is free but pre-registration is recommended (there is a waiting list).

Top image and illustration courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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