The Safer Internet Plus Programme aims to promote the safer use of the internet and new online technologies, particularly for children, and to fight against illegal content and content unwanted by the end user, as part of a coherent approach by the European Union.
The Safer Internet Plus Programme has a budget of EUR 45 million. It takes into account recent developments in information and communication technologies and supports cooperation among the different actors in this field, from mobile operators to child welfare NGOs. Consequently, the programme has a wider scope than its predecessors, covering technologies as diverse as third generation (3G) mobile phones, online games and chat rooms and dealing with content ranging from child abuse images to racism.
The programme supports four lines of action:
Hotlines: Fighting illegal content. Hotlines are an important intermediary for passing on reports from citizens and consumers to the appropriate body for action such as the police. In 2004, there were hotlines in 13 EU Member States and in Iceland. The programme is funding the set-up of one officially recognised hotline in each EU Member State and candidate country. This hotline network takes into account the transnational dimension of the problem and exchanges best practices among programme participants. The network has been very successful in reaching countries beyond European borders with comparable problems, such as Australia, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.
Raising awareness: The network is also used to raise awareness among the different audiences – particularly teachers, parents and children – of the possible dangers that internet communication can entail. The programme funds actions to raise awareness through multiplier organisations and electronic dissemination channels and the distribution of information material to schools. Since 2004, the network has organised an annual Safer Internet Day, usually in early February. In 2007, over 40 countries took part in this event.
Unwanted and harmful content: The programme funds the development of improved filtering technology and of tools to protect minors more effectively in their communication on the web. Furthermore, the programme funds projects that assess the technology available to limit the amount of unwanted and harmful content received by users and rate existing content. Finally, the programme supports methods to improve information exchange and best practices on fighting spam.
Promoting a safer environment: In the field of internet safety, the EU has promoted self-regulatory measures rather than harmonising national laws with legal instruments on a Community level. Consequently, several codes of conduct have been developed. The creation of the Safer Internet Forum allows industry, child welfare organisations and policy makers to discuss safer internet topics. Recently, child safety on mobile phones was pushed forward by the European Commission. As a result, in February 2007, the industry signed a framework agreement on "Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children".