On 11 February, Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes celebrated Safer Internet Day. In her speech, she emphasised the role the digital era plays in the life of younger generations. This role is not to be underestimated as the internet impacts every aspect of current day life compared to ten years ago. When it comes to interacting in social life, finding jobs, purchasing products and services, getting information – everything has a digital dimension. Vice-President Kroes also warned for the adverse effects that internet may have, such as virtual bullying and access to undesired information. She therefore called upon all stakeholders – industry, lawmakers, parents and teachers – to take the digital age serious and teach children how to properly use the internet.
Vice-President Kroes stated: “Today, young people lead online lives. At its best, that online world isn’t just a safe place for children to be: it’s a great place for them to be. One where they feel truly at home, creating and innovating in a way that puts us older people to shame. I see so many creative and bright children out there doing magical things with technology. Young people showing energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism. Young people with their own ideas, their own skills, – and sometimes their own businesses! Creating bright ideas that make the internet better for other young people – and indeed for adults! Young people with the talent and the determination to succeed, and the technological tools too.”
But, as stated, she warned for the possible negative consequences and presented her Strategy on a Better Internet for Children. She advocated a considerate and careful approach when youngsters are dealing with internet: “So let’s teach kids to understand their online rights – and responsibilities. Let’s ensure they have great online content to enjoy. Let’s help them get the most from their own online experience – and treat others with respect as they do so.”
Ecommerce Europe welcomes the statement of Vice-President Kroes. The message applies to adults as much as for children: A safe online environment benefits consumers and industry. It is therefore not only a morale duty, but also economic common sense to ensure proper data protection and consumer protection. Trust in the online environment, is necessary, as long as a pragmatic and balanced approach is honoured.