Handbook for policy makers on the rights of the child in the digital environment

This end-of-2020 Council of Europe publication by Sonia Livingstone, Eva Lievens and John Carr gives a comprehensive guide to policy makers on the topic as well as support to parent groups in their advocacy on ensuring the rights of their children, all rights, not only the right to protection, in the digital environment.

“This handbook aims to support Council of Europe member States, and especially legislators and other “policy makers” (including governments and parliaments at central, regional and local levels) as well as academia, human rights agencies and relevant civil society organisations in implementing Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)7 and the Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment. It is recognised that State authorities at different levels work with many other
actors, including businesses and relevant international bodies, in developing policy and practice regarding children’s rights in relation to the digital environment. Hence the handbook identifies other stakeholders that member States could or should engage with to implement the guidelines and it provides concrete action points for States to engage with stakeholders and help them meet their responsibilities.

The handbook is intended to be user-friendly and practical. It recognises that States may already be undertaking a range of actions and offers the “added value” of integrating in a single coherent and comprehensive document the wide array of issues to be addressed so that children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in this fast-evolving digital age. It explains how national frameworks and policies can be formulated, advises on how important operational principles and measures can be put in practice and highlights how international cooperation can be advanced. In each chapter, the applicable legal standards are noted. Checklists allow for a detailed assessment and evaluation of the implementation process by States.

At the heart of the Recommendation lie three main expectations of the governments of the member States, namely that they:

► “review their legislation, policies and practice to ensure that they are in line with the recommendations, principles and further guidance set out in the appendix of this Recommendation, promote their implementation in all relevant areas and evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken at regular intervals, with the participation of relevant stakeholders” (Recommendation 1)

► “require business enterprises to meet their responsibility to respect the rights of the child in the digital environment and to take implementing measures, and encourage them to co-operate with relevant State stakeholders, civil society organisations and children, taking into account relevant international and European standards and guidance” (Recommendation 3)

► “co-operate with the Council of Europe by creating, implementing and monitoring strategies and programmes that respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment, and share, on a regular basis, examples of strategies, action plans, legislation and good practices related to the implementation of this Recommendation.” (Recommendation 4)

In addition to guiding policy makers, this handbook aims to answer the concerns of those who fear that supporting children’s rights in the digital environment is too difficult or that State action risks being ineffective, disproportionate, too quickly outdated or introducing unintended adverse consequences. It does this by offering pragmatic guidance and advice (including in form of checklists), and by pointing to the sizable body of recognised and relevant legal standards as well as a range of valuable resources for interpreting and implementing them.”

Download the handbook here: Publication-IT Handbook for policy makers_FINAL_ENG.pdf