On December 1, 2011 Neelie Kroes requested the stakeholders of the industry to exercise self-regulation with the below thoughts. Upon Kroes’ initiative the key stakeholders of the industry - under the leadership of CEOs of network operators, community site operators, software developers and manufacturers (the so-called CEO Coalition) - started several months of serious work. The founders of the cooperation are companies like Apple, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, a Facebook, France Telekom, Organge, Google, Liberty Global, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia, RTL, Samsung, Telenor, Vivendi and Vodafone.

“The internet can be a great place for children - be it research at school, chatting with friends, reading gossips about celebrities - the place where they can find information, communicate, express themselves, but most importantly to feel good. However, we must not be naive. The internet also poses dangers and threats. Threats like bullying - when children threaten each other - or awful crimes, like child pornography, exploitation and gaining their trust for the purpose of sexual abuse. I am convinced that the use of the internet could be a great leisure time activity for children and I'm also convinced that we are all responsible for their safety. I would like to equip children, parents and teachers with simple, transparent and consistent protection tools to enable them to mitigate the exposures while taking the most advantage of the online world. It is similar to the off-line world, where we do not tell our children that they must never cross the street, but rather teach them how to cross it in a safe manner. Children and adults alike have to be aware of online exposures and must be able to protect themselves and to report threats. In this respect the implementation of regulations - strict directives from Brussels - might not be the best way forward. Self-regulation by the industry can sooner develop tools that successfully adjust to the rapidly developing technological environment and effectively protect our children or empower them to protect themselves on the internet. This is why I requested the industry to develop these tools.”

The CEOs made commitments in five areas on behalf of their respective companies and subsidiaries:

1. Simple and effective reporting tools

The CEOs found that the application of simple and effective reporting tools would be best to be used in the area of retroactively moderated storage and cloud services that allow users to share content with each other (e.g. video sharing, social network sites). It has to be ensured that in the frame of using these services users agree with the Terms of Use that determines the kind of behavior which is allowed and prohibited. In respect of the reporting tool's design the companies’ idea was to place and easily recognizable button on the user interface of all sites containing user content that can be pressed to automatically report complaints to the responsible employees of the service provider. The reporting interface of the button is designed in a way that prevents making anonymous reports by the users who have to provide their email address, at least. Upon receipt of the complaint the service provider has to send an automatic reply to the sender containing information on the investigation process, the relevant Terms of Use and the general timeframe of conducting such investigations. Besides, all service providers taking part in the self-regulation have to ensure the earliest possible investigation of complaints with the application of effective internal processes.

2. Data protection settings corresponding to the child's age

These data protection settings were found important by the companies primarily in the area of social networks. If the data protection settings are properly set users under the age of 13 cannot register into social network sites and if the child, upon unsuccessful registration, tries to register again with entering an older age the system, with the help of cookies, ensures that the repeated registration remains unsuccessful. Social network sites must ensure that in the case of children (above the age of 13) it can be set which users may send posts to the child's profile. As a default setting the service provider must ensure that the entire data sheet of children can only be accessible to their friends. Besides, the operator of social networks must ensure proper information for minors so that they can make a conscious decision on their data protection settings and be aware of the reporting button.

3. Broader scope of using age limit restrictions for content

The broader use of age limit restrictions for content was undertaken by the companies for their own content as well as the content of their contracted partners. The companies found it necessary to establish at least two content categories: the first is suitable for all age groups but the second is only recommended for adults (18+). In addition, the content can be further classified into other age groups in accordance with the national legislation (e.g. 12+, 16+). However, it is imperative that all kinds of pornography are classified as 18+ category.

4. Broder control options for parents

In the case of mobile and fixed line internet services the service providers undertook to provide filtering software for free or at production cost to block adult content from children while surfing on the internet. Besides, mobile operators agrees to offer mobile packages with which users cannot access the internet nor premium fee services. The service providers also undertook to popularize child protection tools, among others, on the respective companies’ child protection website and provide sufficient information on such tools together with their own services in manuals, leaflets and other public disclosures.

5. Effective removal of pedophile content

The companies further agreed to insert a link into their child protection website that points to to the INHOPE website. The websites of Hungarian subsidiaries contain a link to the National Media and Info-Communications Authority’s Internet Hotline. The companies undertook the commitment to ensure that potential pedophile content is removed as soon as practicable with the use of the “notice and take down” process and they expect the same from their contracted partners, too. The results of the joint effort was presented by the companies and the Commission on February 5, 2013 on the occasion of the Safer Internet Day. We share the sincere hope that that this work makes Neelie Kroes’ words come true and with the help of these new commitments of the industry we can make the internet a better place for our children.