Today it’s official: The General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment that was adopted earlier this year has been released for everyone to read.
The Best Interests of the Child
It sets out how children’s rights apply in the digital environment and will help states to understand what steps are necessary to respect protect and fulfil children’s rights in all environments including the digital environment.
One of the most vital paragraphs in the documents is this:
“The best interests of the child is a dynamic concept that requires an assessment appropriate to the specific context. The digital environment was not originally designed for children, yet it plays a significant role in children’s lives. States parties should ensure that, in all actions regarding the provision, regulation, design, management and use of the digital environment, the best interests of every child is a primary consideration”.
Necessary Steps for the States
It will be intersting to see how states will implement it. Because according to the explanatory notes: “States should take measures to make sure that the products, services and environments that children actually use and those they are compelled to use have taken account of their needs. To uphold children’s rights in digital environments, their rights and particular needs should be considered at every stage, from design to implementation, with relevant data protection and justice frameworks in place to uphold their rights in technological systems”.
Germany is a Frontrunner
Germany has been a frontrunner in this regard. As the first country in the world they implemented the requirements of the UN General Comment on the rights of children in the digital environment with the law on the reform of Youth Protection Act
Jutta Croll, Chairwoman of the Board of the German Digital Opportunities Foundation and a Senior Manager on the”Child Protection and Children’s Rights in the Digital World“ project (funded by the German Federal Ministry on Family Affairs), explains the significance of a new German law on youth protection in the media: “The law obliges platform providers to take precautionary measures to counter such risks. These include child-friendly terms and conditions, safe default settings for the use of services that limit the risks of use depending on age, for example, by ensuring that user profiles cannot be found by search engines, and easy-to-find information on provider-independent advice, help and reporting mechanisms”.