Round table "Safety of children on the Internet"
On 20 September 2005, a round table on "Safety of children on the Internet" was organized jointly by the Russian Federation's National Committee for UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) and Microsoft Corporation Russia and CIS branch.
Round table was supported by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).
Today information and communication technologies (ICT) provide unlimited opportunities for the training of children and the expression of their creativity. At the same time, ICTs are being used globally to commit crimes against children. In this context, solutions must be found to tackle the availability on the Internet of websites promoting children's pornography, hate speech, racist propaganda, xenophobia and incitement to violence. Additionally, questions relating to the propagation of drugs, prostitution and other socially unacceptable phenomena must be examined.
Dialogue between governmental representatives, scientists, lawyers, philosophers, psychologists and experts in the field of education, culture and communication, among other areas, can be effective in meeting these challenges.
Alexei Demidov, Deputy Chairperson of UNESCO/IFAP Russia noted in his opening remarks that the member agencies of the United Nations, such as UNESCO, are actively involved in promoting universal access to information while protecting the rights of children.
Ms Olga Dergunova, the President of the Microsoft branch in Russia and CIS emphasized that the corporation, as one of leading creators of software for the Internet, pays attention to the issue of safety in the widest sense of this word. In particular, the corporation, in cooperation with ICMEC and the Interpol, supports seminars on enforcement of crimes against children worldwide. More than 500 of law enforcement employees from more than 100 countries of the world have participated in these seminars.
The Vice-president of ICMEC Board of Directors, Ms Mary Banotti, was highly appreciative of the impact of these seminars and reported on the first results of the application of knowledge gained from the course for law enforcement employees that have led to the arrest of persons engaged in the manufacture and distribution of children's pornography. She also expressed concern that not all countries had banned the creation and distribution of similar materials.
Boris Miroshnikov, "cyberpolice" Chief of the Russian Interior Ministry, informed the meeting of a new article to the Criminal code of the Russian Federation that provides for punishment of imprisonment of up to 8 years for the manufacture, distribution and storage of children's pornography. He also stated that the majority of this pornography, placed on Russian sites of the Internet, is of foreign origin.
According to Oleg Byahov, the director of the Department of Strategy of Building of an Information Society, Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications, technical regulations are necessary for effective counteraction to the illegal use of ICT. His Ministry actively cooperates in this area with foreign colleagues and has appropriate technologies ready to be introduced.
UNESCO/IFAP Russia is deeply interested in expert discussions on the legal, ethical and social dimensions of ICT. Questions raised during the round table will be reflected in discussions during the VII International conference "Right and the Internet" which will take place in Moscow from 27-28 October 2005.