President: Protecting everyone online, particularly the young, is vital

Online harassment, always a bad thing, is particularly concerning as it affects children and the young, as well as negative effects it can have on adults, public organizations, firms and even entire nations, President Alar Karis says.

Speaking at a high-level debate at the Paris Peace Forum hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday evening, Karis said that: "What is considered natural in ordinary life should also apply in cyberspace. Human rights do not disappear when we turn on our computer or smartphone."

"Increasing children's digital literacy will help increase society's readiness to cope with cyber threats. Cooperation between governments and the private sector is essential to mitigate risks," he went on.

The debate focused on protecting children and young people from the dangers of cyberspace, and the Estonian president added that: "Extensive digitization not only involves changes in technology, but also brings about fundamental changes in the way societies operate. Along with the benefits of technology, the risks and dangers inevitably increase. Unfortunately, everyday life gives many examples of attacks on children, individuals, companies, even countries, and all kinds of harassment."

"Good will alone is not enough. Protecting critical cyber infrastructure, unwavering respect for fundamental rights, as well as data protection and adequate contributions to cybersecurity and cyber and digital education are essential in tackling threats in cyberspace," he added.

Estonia has joined a core group of drafters of the digital declaration of the rights of the child, which was convened by France this summer.

President Emmanuel Macron called for the powers of civil society, private companies, internet service providers and nations to join forces to work together to stand up for children's rights in cyberspace.

Companies with a global reach, such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Twitter, are also joining the call, which includes focus on the development of children's digital competences and the protection of children in the digital space.

President Karis also briefly spoke with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris Thursday evening, while recently-reelected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the CEO of Youtube, Susan Wojcicki, also took part in the high-level discussion.

Karis highlighted factors that determine the protection of children's rights in the digital space as being compliance with the norms and education of children, in a way which would teach them to recognize the dangers, BNS reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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