Voluntary principles for child safety, including safety by design

What is it?

  • Wide and consistent adherence within the technology sector of principles, and subsequent action, for child safety.

Why is it important?

  • Keeping children safe from online sexual exploitation and abuse requires systematic cross sector collaboration and action based on widely agreed and shared principles. A broad range of principles can provide a framework that is relevant to all actors for collective action on eliminating CSEA online.
  • The technology industry has a duty of care to consider children’s rights and safety at the design phase and throughout the product lifecycle to ensure that reasonable and age-appropriate safety features (prioritising the youngest potential user) are built into all digital products and services.

How can it be implemented?

  • Identify an industry-wide set of principles that are relevant and applicable to all actors engaged in reaching the goal of eliminating CSEA online, e.g. 5 Country Ministerial,Voluntary Principles to Counter CSEA online.
  • Agree as a core minimum that the best interests and dignity of all users should be considered in the design and use of products and services – with Safety by Design a core business objective. .
  • Three principles are highlighted in the Australian eSafety Commissioner’s Safety by Design initiative:
  • Service provider responsibilities: the burden of safety should never fall solely upon the end user. Service providers can take preventative steps to ensure that their service is less likely to facilitate, inflame or encourage illegal and inappropriate behaviours;
  • User empowerment and autonomy: the dignity of users is of central importance, with users’ best interests a primary consideration.
  • Transparency and accountability: Transparency and provide assurances that services are operating according to their published safety objectives, but also assist in educating and empowering users about steps they can take to address safety concerns.
  • Ensure understanding and buy-in from all actors, including business, children and parents, on the principles. Fostering ownership and building understanding of the principles across actors can be crucial to their ultimate use.
  • Communicate the principles to different actors through various forms of media to foster interest and uptake. Aim to create a system whereby all actors across the industry, including business, children and parents, feel motivated to publicly endorse and commit to the shared principles.
  • Set indicators, standards and create tools to measure uptake and actions towards reaching the principles over time. Regular monitoring, reporting and review on implementation and progress can be done collaboratively and/or independently. The process should be transparent and shared publicly; sharing efforts and progress could support others in initiating and strengthening their efforts.

Further resources:

International Telecommunication Union, Guidelines for Industry