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Protection of minors in the media environment. EU regulatory mechanisms

Children are increasingly exposed to online content, through a growing range of mobile devices, and at ever younger ages. At the same time, they have specific needs and vulnerabilities which need to be addressed.

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Ways to limit and prohibit the spread of illicit and harmful media content in relation to young people have been debated for many years. Striking a balance between the rights and interests of young viewers on the one hand and the freedom of expression of content providers (and adults in general) on the other, requires a carefully designed regulatory scheme.

In recent years, traditional (State) regulation has come under increased scrutiny. Gradually, less intrusive mechanisms, such as self- and co-regulation, have started replacing State regulation in a move towards user-empowerment.

This type of logic has governed the implementation of binding rules at EU level via the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. For online content and video games, the Commission supports a number of self-regulatory initiatives such as the Coalition to Make the Internet a Better Place for Kids and the Pan European Game Information System.

The European Parliament, however, considers that this type of initiative cannot replace legally binding instruments, and that only a combination of legal, technical and educational measures, including prevention, can adequately address the dangers faced by children online.

Read the complete briefing here.

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