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Society needs to protect children from online harm: conference

By Yang Zekun | | Updated: 2019-07-18 19:29
[File photo/VCG]

Attendees at a Beijing conference on Thursday called for society to work together to protect children from online abuse and accelerate legislation for the protection of minors online.

Hosted by the China Federation of Internet Societies and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, the conference aimed to study and share experiences protecting children from online harm.

This harm includes personal information disclosure, internet addiction, internet violence, and illegal and harmful information influence.

The conference also discussed how to offer children a safe online environment.

While the internet can bring convenience and joy to children, it can also affect them negatively, said Ren Xianliang, president of the China Federation of Internet Societies.

As the population of underage netizens is increasing, the government, schools, parents and companies should work together to form a safe and civilized online environment for children, he said.

According to a report released in March by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League and China Internet Network Information Center, China is home to more than 169 million child internet users, and the internet penetration rate among juveniles has reached 93.7 percent.

Wang Weiguo, deputy director of the office of National Working Committee on Children and Women under State Council, said that the internet has crashed conventional ways of protecting children.

Without proper protection, children may be under threat of network violations, adverse information influence, personal privacy disclosure and addiction, Wang said.

"We need to form an online protection mechanism for juveniles with the participation of the whole society. Also, we should speed up the legislation about juveniles and highlight the content of online protection," Wang said.

Harmful online content can affect minors in different ways.

A report issued by the Renmin University of China last June showed that 85 percent juvenile offenders have an internet addiction.

The national working group for combating pornography and illegal publications in 2018 ordered over 20 education apps to rectify or stop operations, a number of which contained indecent and sexually suggestive content.

Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF representative in China, stressed the significance of integrated efforts to give children a safe online environment.

"Child online protection is a key issue in both domestic and international internet governance. We highly commend the government of China's continuous efforts in child protection," she said.

China is accelerating the development of rule-of-law for the protection of children online.

The Law on Protection of Minors is slated for revision, while the drafting of the State Council Regulation of Online Protection of Minors is underway and the Rules on Children's Personal Information Protection Online were recently published.

Experts at the conference also initiated a proposal to protect children's personal information online.

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