5 resolutions for online safety 2020

Moving away from surveillance and control and toward a child rights framework honored all over the world

Anne Collier
6 min readJan 2, 2020

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For 20 years now, all around the world, governments, child advocacy groups, corporations, schools and parents have actually been trying to uphold children’s rights of protection by ignoring their participation rights online (those of expression, conscience, participation, association, access to information and being consulted on matters that concern them). I’m referring to two of the three categories of rights enshrined in the 30-year-old UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the third category being their rights of provision.

Until now. There is growing awareness of how facile, fear-driven and unethical that old approach is. We’re seeing more and more signs that 2020 will be the year we stop defaulting to surveillance and control and start getting creative about upholding the full range of our children’s rights in balance.

Signs of momentum include…

  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child — the UN body that monitors implementation of the Convention worldwide, will shortly issue a General Comment on children’s digital rights. That’s a big deal because this will be the first such statement from the Committee about the digital part of their lives and rights, the Committee’s reach is global, and general comments are the Committee’s authoritative interpretation of what’s expected of states that have ratified the Convention (so far every country on the planet except the United States).
  • Young activists exercising their rights of participation have ever-increasing visibility and support. An obvious example is Greta Thunberg as Time’s Person of the Year; the BBC offers many more in this short piece and this longer one. Another is 12-year-old US activist Olivia Van Ledtje, who co-authored Spark Change, published this past fall.
  • The 16 year-old NGO KidsRights just launched a “new non-political, non-religious digital ‘state’ that aims to transcend national borders and empower the global youth community.”
  • The UK government is in the process of developing an ambitious “age appropriate design code” for digital providers, a process being watched by…

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Anne Collier

Youth advocate; blogger, NetFamilyNews.org; founder, The Net Safety Collaborative