Child Online Safety Toolkit

Page 31






4. Integrating child-centred design:

States parties should regulate against known harms and proactively consider emerging research and evidence in the public health sector, to prevent the spread of misinformation and materials and services that may damage children’s mental or physical health. Measures may also be needed to prevent unhealthy engagement in digital games or social media, such as regulating against digital design that undermines children’s development and rights. Source: General comment No. 25 (2021), para 9658

Child online safety must be embedded in the design and development of technology. Child-centred design builds child online safety into services and products from the outset. This should include ensuring that child online safety is considered in the regulatory requirements for design and in the licensing of new technologies59. Child-centred design may also be referred to as safety/rights/privacy/ethics by design. Applying the precautionary principle60 to technology that may impact children and young people ensures that child online safety is considered at an early stage. UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) put forward a ‘working definition’ of the precautionary principle: “When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm. Morally unacceptable harm refers to harm to humans or the environment that is: •

Threatening to human life or health, or

Serious and effectively irreversible, or

Inequitable to present or future generations, or

Imposed without adequate consideration of the human rights of those affected.”61

The precautionary principle should guide a framework for safety and privacy by design to ensure child online safety and children’s rights are incorporated in technology at the design stage. Child-centred design should not only be an ethical concept, but a legal requirement.62 It should also be incorporated into criteria for funding research and development that may affect children’s rights online. Technology and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to improve child online safety and to protect children’s rights. Support for the development of technological tools to realise children’s rights and enhance child online safety is an important aspect of a child online safety policy. The wider impact of AI or other technology designed to protect children must be assessed in light of all children’s rights63 to avoid undermining other rights such as privacy and non-discrimination. 58. General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, UNCRC, 2021. 59. Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, GOV.UK, 2021. 60. See Communication from the Commission on the precautionary principle EUR-Lex, 2000; The precautionary principle: Definitions, applications and governance, European Parliament, 2015. 61. The Precautionary Principle, World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology, 2005. 62. See for example Article 25, General Data Protection Regulation, European Union, 2018. 63. See for example General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, UNCRC, 2021.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.