|Steering Committee (CDMSI)|
|Bureau of the Committee (CDMSI-BU)|
|Former Steering Committee (CDMC)|
Former Bureau of the Committee
|Committee of Experts on Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (MSI-JO)|
|Committee of Experts on cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT)|
|Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building|
|FORMER GROUPS OF SPECIALISTS|
|Rights of Internet Users|
|Public Service Media Governance|
|Protection Neighbouring Rights of Broadcasting Organisations|
|Public service Media|
Conference Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age -
Opportunities, Rights, Responsibilities, Belgrade, 7-8/11/2013
Conference "The Hate factor in political speech - Where do responsibilities lie?", Warsaw18-19 September 2013
Conference "Tackling hate speech - Living together on-line", Budapest 27-28/11/2012
|Conference of Ministers, Reykjavik - Iceland, 28-29 May 2009|
|European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)|
|Committee of Ministers texts|
|Parliamentary Assembly texts|
Strasbourg, 25 November 2011
STEERING COMMITTEE ON THE MEDIA AND
Draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to the member states on Gender Equality in the work of the media and the new communication services
The core objective of the Council of Europe is to preserve and promote human rights and their full enjoyments, democracy and the rule of law. All its activities are expected to contribute to this fundamental objective. The effective equality between women and men is an integral part of the Council of Europe's objectives, ideals and principles. Gender is a structural difference which affects the entire population and therefore gender equality is an integral part of human rights and a fundamental criterion of and qualitative indicator for democracy.
In practical terms, gender equality means equal empowerment, equal opportunities, equal responsibility, equal participation and equal visibility for both women and men, all of it surrounded by fair and equitable treatment, at all levels of decision making and in all spheres of private, professional and public life. In a media context, this should translate into full empowerment, equal opportunities, equal responsibility, equal participation and equal visibility at all levels of the media value chain. This is all the more true for public service media.
However, the gender perspective has not always been fully integrated in policy making in the media field, including is related Council of Europe standard setting which has been conducted over the last few decades. A number of existing Committee of Ministers Recommendations and Declarations relating to media and new communication services deserve to be revisited to incorporate a gender equality perspective; certain texts should be amended accordingly.
A number of Recommendations and Declarations have been identified and divided into groups —A and B— with specific objectives for each group. Specific amendments or addenda to those texts are set out in the appendix.
1. Recommendation CM/Rec (2001)8 on self-regulation concerning cyber content;
2. Recommendation CM/Rec (2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment,
3. Recommendation CM/Rec (2007)11 on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment,
4. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet,
5. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the internet,
6. Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5 on measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour and to promote their active participation in the new information and communications environment.
a. when adoption and implementation of self-regulatory measures, guidelines, codes of conduct or other forms of regulation within media organisations is encouraged, issues relating to sex-based discrimination/gender equality, promotion of presentation of non-stereotyped images and non-sexist language should be included and the use of violent or dignity degrading materials should be excluded;
b. when media and information literacy education/training is encouraged, either for individuals or professionals, the gender equality perspective should be included and capacity building and training for women should be encouraged as they are under-represented in the media industry;
c. when policies and plans for developing and implementing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are encouraged or discussed, women’s capacity-building and training with regard to ICTs should be included;
d. content disseminated on the Internet involving gender-based violence or discrimination should be regarded as harmful content and handled accordingly;
e. most of the existing standards are based on the assumption that children are vulnerable and need to be protected against harmful content and this issue is tackled from the provider’s perspective. However, viewers’ and users’ perspectives should also be included. With regard to this approach, the following measures are desirable:
• to stress the necessity for media and information literacy amongst children, youth, parents, teachers etc., in order to ensure their understanding of the responsibilities and consequences of the commission of offences (producing and disseminating illegal, harmful content, including gender-based violence);
• new communication technologies (such as mobile telephony) may constitute a tool for bullying, harassment and other forms of malicious peer-to-peer communication; emphasis should be placed on ensuring children’s awareness of harm and the responsibility for participating in disseminating illegal, harmful content;
• when promoting the safer use of the Internet and fighting against illegal content and tackling harmful and unwanted content through regulation, Internet providers [this is not clear] should be encouraged to co-operate with victims of gender based violence and harmful content;
• there should be no lasting or permanently accessible record on the Internet of harmful content created by or about children which challenges their dignity, security and privacy; member states, together with Internet providers [this is not clear], should explore the feasibility of removing or deleting such content, including its traces (logs, records and processing), within a reasonably short period of time. It should be ensured that those involved in producing and disseminating this content are reported to the relevant authorities to stress the necessity of empowering victims of offence and harm, to recognise women as potential victims of on-line gender-based violence, including intimidation, stalking, harassment and related profiling, that can entail prejudice, discriminatory practices and harmful stereotyping.
1. Recommendation CM/Rec(2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment;
2. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 on media pluralism and diversity of media content;
3. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)3 on the remit of public service media in the information society,
4. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment;
5. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the internet;
6. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the role of community media in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue;
a. policies and legislation should always systematically address rather than always acknowledge the multiple and coexisting forms of discrimination of women which is the result of multiple disadvantage and they should recognise specific dimensions of discrimination when addressing concrete problems;
b. although dating back more than two decades, the strategic objectives recommended by the Council of Europe in 19841 and the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, calling for greater gender sensitivity on the part of media agents and decision-makers and for a gender-balanced view of reality, are still valid today and require attentive consideration by policy makers and consequential positive action;
c. media should strive to offer a reference point for all members of the public; this should constitute a factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals, irrespectively of their gender as well as providing a forum for pluralistic public discussion and promoting broader democratic participation of all individuals, including members of different minority groups.
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe, recommends that member states:
i. implement in their domestic law and/or practise the provisions of the Recommendations and Declarations as amended by the addenda to the current Recommendation;
ii. disseminate widely this Recommendation and its addendum,
iii. bring the Recommendation to the attention of the media, the new communications and information industries, users and their organisations, as well as the regulatory authorities for the media and new communications and information services and relevant public authorities.
Appendix to Recommendation ..., containing addenda to / amending specific
Committee of Ministers Recommendations and Declarations
N.B. throughout the appendix, only the needed extracts are reproduced and additions/amendments appear in bold characters
Recommendation CM/Rec(2001) 8 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on self-regulation concerning cyber content (self-regulation and user protection against illegal or harmful content on the new communication and information services shall read as follows
Reaffirming that freedom of expression and information is necessary for the social, economic, cultural and political development of every human being, regardless of their gender, race, color, language, political or other opinion, sexual orientation, religion, social background, and constitutes a condition for the harmonious progress of social and cultural groups, nations and the international community, as expressed in its Declaration on the Freedom of Expression and Information of 1982;
Stressing that the freedom to use new communications and information services should not prejudice the human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of others,
Recalling its Recommendation No. R (89) 7 concerning principles on the distribution of videogames having a violent, brutal or pornographic content, its Recommendation No. R (92) 19 on video games with a racist content, its Recommendation No. R (97) 19 on the portrayal of violence in the electronic media, its Recommendation No. R (97) 20 on “hate speech”, its Recommendation No. R (97) 21 on the media and promotion of a culture of tolerance, its Recommendation No. R (2002)5 on the protection of women against violence, and Article 4, paragraph a of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations;
Bearing in mind the differences in national criminal law concerning illegal content as well as the differences in what content may be perceived as potentially harmful, especially to minors and their physical, mental and moral development, hereinafter referred to as “harmful content”, and mindful that gender based violence should be included amongst legal definitions of harmful content and recalling that, under international law, member states have clear responsibility for taking action to prevent the abuse of women’s human rights, as well as bringing perpetrators to justice and provide support for victims;
Bearing in mind that self-regulatory organisations could, in accordance with national circumstances and traditions and, where appropriate, in cooperation or consultation with gender equality bodies or organisations, be involved in the monitoring of compliance with certain norms, including implementation of the principle of gender equality both in their functioning and in the content of their messages, possibly within a co-regulatory framework, as defined in a particular country;
Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2001) 8
Chapter I – Self-regulatory organizations
Point 2: Member States should encourage such organisations themselves to establish regulatory mechanisms within their remit, in particular with regard to the establishment of codes of conduct and the monitoring of compliance with these codes. With regard to content, such codes of conduct should include standards or guidance in respect of threats to human dignity, stereotyping, gender-based violence and negative or detrimental portrayal of women’s and men’s image.
Chapter II – Content descriptors
Point 7: Such content descriptors should indicate, for example, violent and pornographic content, content condoning, glorifying or promoting gender-based violence, degrading images of men and women and posing threats to human dignity as well as content promoting the use of tobacco or alcohol, gambling services, and content which allows for unsupervised and anonymous contacts between minors and adults.
Chapter IV – Content complaints systems
Point 12: Member States should encourage the establishment of content complaints systems, such as hotlines, which are provided by Internet service providers, content providers, user associations or other institutions. Such content complaints systems should, where necessary for ensuring an adequate response against presumed illegal content, be complemented by hotlines provided by public authorities. The systems in place should be capable of dealing with complaints made by victims of gender-based cyber-abuse, bullying, stalking, harassment and other gender-based offences and, where necessary, should provide adequate remedies, satisfaction or support to victims.
Point 14: Member States should set up, at the domestic level, an adequate framework for co-operation between content complaints bodies and public authorities with regard to presumed illegal content, as defined in paragraph 12 above, and with regard to support provided to victims of cyber-abuse. For this purpose, member States should define the legal responsibilities and privileges of bodies offering content complaints systems when accessing, copying, collecting and forwarding presumed illegal content to law enforcement authorities as well as establishing support hot-lines for victims. Specific training should be provided to relevant persons entrusted with the handling of content complaints systems for them to be equipped to deal with victims of cyber-violence and abuse.
Chapter VI – User information and awareness
Point 20. Member States should encourage public awareness and information about self-regulatory mechanisms, content descriptors, filtering tools, access restriction tools, content complaints systems and victim support mechanisms, and out-of-court mediation and arbitration.
Point 21 (added): Member states should place emphasis on programmes and information and awareness-raising campaigns addressed especially to boys and young men but also to the general public on issues of cybercrime and on-line gender based violence as a human rights violation, including on responsibilities stemming from participating in the production and dissemination of harmful and derogatory content about others.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on empowering children in the new information and communications environment shall read as follows:
Recalling the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on freedom of communication on the Internet of 2003 which stresses that such freedom should not prejudice the dignity or fundamental rights and freedoms of others, especially children and women, who are often target groups or audiences in the new communication environments;
Conscious of the risk of harm from content and behaviour in the new information and communications environment which may not always be illegal but which are capable of adversely affecting the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children such as online pornography, the portrayal and glorification of violence, gender-based violence and self-harm, demeaning, discriminatory or racist expressions or apologia for such conduct, solicitation (grooming), bullying, stalking and other forms of harassment, including sexual harassment;
Recalling, in this respect, Recommendation No. R (2002)5 on the protection of women against violence, Recommendation No. R (97) 19 on the portrayal of violence in the electronic media and Recommendation Rec. (2001)8 on self-regulation concerning cyber-content (as amended by this Recommendation);
Convinced that an essential part of the response to content and behaviour carrying a risk of harm lies in the development and provision of information literacy, defined as the competent use of tools providing access to information, the development of critical analysis of content, including teaching young people how to recognise, interpret and deal with stereotypical and sexist images and messages, and the appropriation of communication skills to foster citizenship and creativity, and training initiatives for children and their educators in order for them to use information and communication technologies and services in a positive and responsible manner, which requires full aware of the responsibilities and consequences of being involved in producing and disseminating illegal or harmful content and engaging in on-line bullying, harassment and other forms of illegal or harmful conduct;
Underling the need to provide remedies to victims of on-line abuse, including gender-based violence, grooming, bullying, stalking and sexual harassment, by establishing services and implementing activities to support and protect victims, including on-line hotlines, and enabling victims to seek redress through application to the courts and other relevant law enforcement authorities, as well as competent regulatory and self-regulatory bodies;
Recommends that member states develop, where necessary, a coherent information literacy and training strategy which is conducive to empowering children, and their educators in order for them to make the best possible use of information and communication services and technologies, having regard to the following:
ii. member states should ensure that children acquire the necessary skills to create, produce and distribute content and communications in the new information and environment in a manner which is both legal, respectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms of others and conducive to the exercise and enjoyment of their own fundamental rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression and information balanced with the right to private life;
iii. member states should ensure that such skills enable children to better understand and deal with content (for example violence, including gender-based violence and self-harm, sexism, pornography, discrimination and racism) and behaviours (such as grooming, bullying, harassment or stalking) carrying a risk of harm, thereby promoting a greater sense of confidence, well-being and respect for others in the new information and communications environment
Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on media pluralism and diversity of media content, shall read as follows:
Recognising the crucial contribution of the media in fostering public debate, political pluralism and awareness of diverse opinions, notably by ensuring an unbiased, gender-balanced view of reality and by providing different groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas;
Recalling the importance of transparency of media ownership, so as to ensure that the authorities in charge of the implementation of regulations concerning media pluralism can take informed decisions, and that the public can make its own analysis of the information, ideas and opinions expressed by the media;
Reaffirming that, in order to protect and actively promote the pluralistic expressions of ideas and opinions as well as cultural diversity, member states should adapt the existing regulatory frameworks, particularly with regard to media ownership and with regard to balanced representation of women and men in media decision-making bodies, and adopt any regulatory and financial measures called for in order to guarantee media transparency and structural pluralism as well as diversity of the content distributed;
I. Measures promoting structural pluralism of the media
2. Ownership regulation
2.1 bis: Having regard to the preceding principle, member states should include regular assessment of the participation of women in ownership and in top decision-making and management levels of both public and private media organisations and related technical services, as well as in advisory, regulatory and monitoring bodies of the media sector.
4. Other media contributing to pluralism and diversity
Member states should encourage the development of other media capable of making a contribution to pluralism and diversity and providing a space for dialogue. These media could, for example, take the form of community, local, minority or social media. The content of such media can be created mainly, but not exclusively, by and for certain groups in society, can provide a response to their specific needs or demands, and can serve as a factor of social cohesion and integration. Member states should consider measures, such as positive action, to ensure visibility in the media of women belonging to groups exposed to multiple or coexisting discrimination; lack of visibility prolongs discrimination The means of distribution, which may include digital technologies, should be adapted to the habits and needs of the public for whom these media are intended.
II. Measures promoting content diversity
1. General principle
Pluralism of information and diversity of media content will not be automatically guaranteed by the multiplication of the means of communication offered to the public. Therefore, member states should define and implement an active policy in this field, including monitoring procedures, and adopt any necessary measures in order to ensure that a sufficient variety of gendered-balanced information, opinions and programmes is disseminated by the media and is available to the public.
2. Promotion of a wider democratic participation and internal diversity
2.2. Member states should, in particular, encourage the media to contribute to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, so as to promote mutual respect and tolerance and to prevent potential conflicts through discussions. Attention to gender equality issues should also be strongly encouraged.
To this end, member states should:
- on the one hand, encourage the media to adopt or strengthen a voluntary policy promoting balanced representation of women and men, and of minorities, in their internal organisation in all its branches, in order to reflect society’s diverse composition, mitigate inequalities and reinforce social cohesion.
5. Raising awareness of the role of media
1. Member states should support the training of media professionals, and including on-going training, and encourage such training to address the role that media professionals, including owners and managers, can play in favor of diversity and gender equality. Society at large should be made aware of this role.
2. Diversity and gender equality could be included as an objective in the charters of media organisations and should also be included in codes of ethics adopted by media professionals. The latter should address gender-based discrimination issues, promote the use of non-sexist language and the presentation of non-stereotyped images and proscribe or discourage the use of gender-related violent or degrading materials.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the remit of public service media in the information society in the following paragraphs, shall read as follows:
Underlining the specific role of public service broadcasting, which is to promote the values of democratic societies, in particular respect for human rights, cultures and political pluralism; and with regard to its goal of offering a wide choice of programmes and services to all sectors of the public, promoting social cohesion, gender equality, cultural diversity and pluralist communication accessible to everyone;
Recommends that the governments of member states:
ii. include, where they have not already done so, provisions in their legislation/regulations specific to the remit of public service media, covering in particular the new communication services, thereby enabling public service media to make full use of their potential and especially to promote a gendered-balanced view of reality, alongside a broader democratic, social and cultural participation, inter alia, with the help of new interactive technologies;
Guiding principles concerning the remit of public service media in the information society
I. The public service remit: maintaining the key elements
1. Member states have the competence to define and assign a public service remit to one or more specific media organisations, in the public and/or private sector, maintaining the key elements underpinning the traditional public service remit, while adjusting it to new circumstances. This remit should be performed with the use of state-of-the-art technology appropriate for the purpose. These elements have been referred to on several occasions in Council of Europe documents, which have defined public service broadcasting as, amongst other things:
d) a forum for pluralistic public discussion and a means of promoting broader democratic participation of all individuals, regardless of their gender
II. Adapting the public service remit to the information society
a. A reference point for all members of the public, with universal access offered
6. Member states should see to it that the goals and means for achievement of these goals by public service media are clearly defined, in particular regarding the use of thematic services and new communication services. This may include regular evaluation and review of such activities by the relevant bodies, so as to ensure that all groups in the audience are adequately served and visible in the media.
b. A factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals, groups and communities
7. Public service media should be adapted to the new digital environment to enable them to fulfill their remit in promoting gender equality and social cohesion at local, regional, national and international levels, and to foster a sense of co-responsibility of the public for the achievement of this objective.
8. Public service media should integrate all communities, social groups and generations, including minority groups, young people, old persons, the most disadvantaged social categories, persons with disabilities, while respecting their different identities and needs. In this context, attention should be paid to the content created by and for such groups, and to their access to, and presence and portrayal in, public service media. Due attention should be also paid to gender equality issues both in respect of women’s visibility and non-stereotyped portrayal and participation in the content production and in decision-making positions in the media industry. Due attention should be paid to women from disadvantaged social groups, who are exposed to multiple discrimination and are invisible in the media context and their lack of visibility prolongs discrimination.
9. Public service media should act as a trusted guide of society, bringing concretely useful knowledge into the life of individuals and of different communities in society. In this context, they should pay particular attention to the needs of minority groups and underprivileged and disadvantaged social categories, and to women from those communities. This role of filling a gap in the market, which is an important part of the traditional public service media remit, should be maintained in the new digital environment.
d. A forum for public discussion and a means of promoting broader democratic participation of individuals
14. Public service media should play an important role in promoting broader democratic debate and participation, including the gender equality dimension, with the assistance, among other things, of new interactive technologies, offering the public greater involvement in the democratic process. Public service media should fulfill a vital role in educating active and responsible citizens, providing not only quality content but also a forum for public debate, open to diverse ideas and convictions in society, and a platform for disseminating democratic values. This platform will only be truly democratic when it succeeds in reflecting the complexity and multiplicity of positions and roles which men and women have or pursue in society.
15. Public service media should provide adequate information about the democratic system and democratic procedures, and should encourage balanced participation of women and men not only in elections, both in active (voter) and passive (candidate) capacities, and also in decision-making processes and public life in general. This objective of balanced participation should be respected by the media themselves. Accordingly, one of the public service media’s roles should be to foster citizens’ interest in public affairs and encourage them to play a more active part.
16. Public service media should also actively promote a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding by using new digital and online technologies. This can be ensured by encouraging ongoing gender and cultural sensitive training for media professionals, including owners and managers.
III. The appropriate conditions required to fulfill the public service remit in the information society
a. Legal conditions
27. To reconcile the need for a clear definition of the remit with the need to respect editorial independence and programme autonomy and to allow for flexibility to adapt public service activities rapidly to new developments, member states should find appropriate solutions, involving, if needed, the public service media, in line with their legal traditions. In this context, member states should consider adopting or reviewing their legislation, with the aim of ensuring a balanced participation of women and men in decision-making making, advisory, regulatory and monitoring bodies of the public service media sector. Member states are strongly encouraged to embrace the principle that the representation of either women or men in any decision-making body in public life should not fall below 40%2.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment, shall be read as follows:
Recalling the 2003 Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on freedom of communication on the Internet, which stresses that such freedom should not prejudice the human dignity or human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, especially children, and mindful that this objective should extend to women who are amongst the most targeted groups in the new communication environments
Recalling Recommendation Rec(2001)8 of the Committee of Ministers on self-regulation concerning cyber content (self-regulation and user protection against illegal or harmful content on new communications and information services) (as amended by this Recommendation), which encourages the neutral labeling of content to enable users to make their own value judgments over such content;
Recalling also Recommendation Rec. (2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers on empowering children in the new information and communications environment (as amended by this Recommendation), which underlines the importance for children to acquire the necessary skills to create, produce and distribute content and communications in a manner which is both respectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms of others and conducive to the exercise and enjoyment of their own fundamental rights;
Conscious of the risk of harm from content and behaviors in the new information and communications environment, which are capable of adversely affecting the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children, women and other victims of on-line abuse such as online pornography, the portrayal and glorification of gender-based violence, violence and self-harm, demeaning, discriminatory or racist expressions or apologia for such conduct, solicitation (grooming), bullying, stalking, sexual harassment and other forms of harassment;
Guidelines to the recommendation on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment
I. Empowering individual users
The constant evolution and change in the design and use of technologies and services challenges the ability of individual users to fully understand and exercise their rights and freedoms in the new information and communications environment. In this regard, the transparency in the processing and presentation of information as well as the provision of information, guidance and other forms of assistance are of paramount importance to their empowerment. Media education is of particular importance in this context. Therefore member states should devise strategies, plans and programmes to include specific needs of women who are confronted with greater obstacles and barriers to access media education.
V. Co-operation between stakeholders
The private sector should be encouraged to:
ii. develop, where appropriate, new forms of open, transparent and accountable self-regulation, which should include norms against threats to human dignity, gender-based violence and negative portrayal of women’s and men’s image.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet, shall be read as follows:
Recommends that, having regard to the guidelines in the appendix to this recommendation, the governments of member states, in co-operation, where appropriate, with all relevant stakeholders, take all necessary measures to promote the public service value of the Internet by:
- encouraging the private sector to acknowledge and familiarise itself with its evolving ethical roles and responsibilities, and to co-operate in reviewing and, where necessary, adjusting its key actions and decisions which may impact on individual rights and freedoms, especially when cybercrime and harmful content and behaviors are involved, which are capable of adversely affecting the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children, women and other victims of on-line abuse;
- encouraging in this regard the private sector to develop, where appropriate and in co-operation with other stakeholders, new forms of open and transparent self- and co-regulation on the basis of which key actors can be held accountable, including in them benchmarks for responding to threats to human dignity, gender-based violence and negative portrayal of women’s and men’s image.
Appendix to the Recommendation
I. Human rights and democracy
- the right of victims of cybercrime and cyber abuse to seize the courts and competent regulatory and self-regulatory authorities in order to ensure that, in cases when content is involved that is determined illegal or harmful by the authorities, that there will be no lasting or permanently accessible record of that content, that it will be removed, including its traces (logs, records and processing) within a reasonably short period of time and in any case that those involved in cyber abuse will be held responsible.
Member states should develop and implement strategies for e-democracy, e-participation and e-government that make effective use of ICTs in democratic process and debate, in relationships between public authorities and civil society, and in the provision of public services as part of an integrated approach that makes full and appropriate use of a number of communication channels, both online and offline. In particular, e-democracy and e-governance should uphold human rights, democracy, gender equality and the rule of law by:
- strengthening the participation, initiative and involvement of citizens, in national, regional and local public life and in decision-making processes, including the expectation of equal participation of women and men thereby contributing to more dynamic, inclusive and direct forms of democracy, genuine public debate, better legislation and active scrutiny of the decision-making processes;
Member states should use the Internet and other ICTs in conjunction with other channels of communication to formulate and implement policies for education for democratic citizenship to enable individuals to be active and responsible citizens throughout their lives, to respect the rights of others and to contribute to the defense and development of democratic societies and cultures. Member states should, in that context, implement policies for capacity building and training programmes aimed at democratic participation and representation for groups under-represented in the political and public life of their countries, such as women, in particular women from disadvantaged social groups people from minority background or class disadvantaged. In achieving the goal of equal participation of women and men, a minimum participation rate of 40% for each sex is considered the parity threshold3.
Member states should promote public discussion on the responsibilities of private actors, such as Internet service providers, content providers and users, and encourage them – in the interests of the democratic process and debate and the protection of the rights of others – to take self-regulatory and other measures to optimize the quality and reliability of information on the Internet and to promote the exercise of professional responsibility, in particular with regard to the establishment, compliance with, and monitoring of the observance of codes of conduct. Codes of conduct should include matters of sex-based discrimination, gender based violence and other degrading portrayal of images of men and women.
Member states should develop, in co-operation with the private sector and civil society, strategies which promote sustainable economic growth via competitive market structures in order to stimulate investment, particularly from local capital, into critical Internet resources and ICTs, especially in areas with a low communication and information infrastructure, with particular reference to:
- promoting the integration of ICTs into education and promoting media and information literacy and training in formal and non-formal education sectors for children and adults in order to:
a. empower them to use media technologies effectively to create, access, store, retrieve and share content to meet their individual and community needs and interests
b. empower them in cases when they are exposed to or are victims of on-line abuse and harmful content and alert them to the threads and risks involved with being ‘on-line’ especially relating to the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
c. encourage them to make informed choices when using the Internet and other ICTs by using and referring to diverse media forms and content from different cultural and institutional sources; understanding how and why media content is produced; critically analyzing the techniques, language and conventions used by the media and the messages they convey; and identifying media content and services that may be unsolicited, offensive or harmful, stereotypical and sexist.
d. increase women’s, and especially women exposed to multiple discrimination, capacity-building with regard information and communication technologies (ICTs).
e. informing them of the responsibilities and consequences of being involved in producing and disseminating illegal, harmful content, on-line bullying, harassment and other forms of malicious peer-to-peer communication.
Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet, shall read as follows:
Convinced that the well-being and best interests of children are fundamental values shared by all member states, which must be promoted without any form of discrimination
Recalling the measures to protect children referred to in the 2001 Convention on Cybercrime (ETS No. 185), in particular concerning child pornography, and the 2007 Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201), in particular concerning the solicitation of children for sexual purposes and in particular concerning the solicitation of children exposed to multiple discrimination factors.
Convinced of the need to inform children about the enduring presence, risks, responsibilities and consequences of the content they create on the Internet and, in this connection, of the need to develop and promote their information literacy, defined as the competent use of tools providing access to information, the development of critical analysis of content and the appropriation of communication skills to foster citizenship and creativity and respect of human rights and dignity of others, as referred to in Recommendation Rec.(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers on empowering children in the new information and communications environment (as amended by this Recommendation);
Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the role of community media in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue, shall read as follows:
Recalling its Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 on media pluralism and diversity of media content (as amended by this Recommendation), which calls on member states to encourage the development of different types of media, including community, local, minority or social media, capable of making a contribution to pluralism and diversity and providing a space for dialogue, while responding to the specific needs or requests of certain groups in civil society and serving as a factor of social cohesion and integration;
Recognizing the contribution of community media in fostering public debate, political pluralism, and awareness of diverse opinions and recognizing the role community media can play in empowering women who are exposed to multiple discrimination, notably by providing various groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas;
Conscious that in today’s radically changed media landscape, community media can play an important role, notably by promoting social cohesion and gender equality, intercultural dialogue and tolerance, as well as by fostering community engagement and democratic participation at local and regional level, as documented by research;
Declares its support for community media, with a view to helping them play a positive role for social cohesion, greater gender equality and intercultural dialogue, and in this connection:
iii. Underlines the need to develop and/or support educational and vocational programmes for all communities in order to encourage them to make full use of available technological platforms. Special capacity building programmes are necessary for women from those communities in order to protect them against the risk of multiple discrimination;
iv. Stresses the desirability of:
c. facilitating capacity building and training of community media staff, including special capacity building and training for women, for example via training schemes within the framework of lifelong learning and media literacy, as well as staff and volunteer exchanges with other media and internship arrangements, which could enhance the quality of community media programmes, and via mentoring/work-shadowing programmes, confidence building and leadership training for women to facilitate balanced participation of women and men in decision-making posts;
d. recognising the importance of including gender-awareness training at all levels of the community media organisations and for all media staff, to encourage the creation of non-stereotyped, non-sexist and progressive content and also to build a truly democratic workplace that will reflect the composition of the society in which it operates, giving voice to the most vulnerable groups of women.
v. Invites community media to be conscious of their role in promoting social cohesion, gender equality and intercultural dialogue and, to this end, to elaborate and adopt or, if appropriate, review codes of professional ethics or internal guidelines, ensuring that they include benchmarks against threats to human dignity, gender-based violence of harmful portrayal of women’s and men’s image and to ensure that they are respected.
Recommendation CM/Rec.(2009)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to protect children against harmful content and behavior and to promote their active participation in the new information and communications environment, shall read as follows:
3. Attention should be drawn to the texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers designed to assist member states in dealing with these risks and, as a corollary, in securing everyone’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. These texts include Recommendation CM/Reek(2008)6 on measures to promote the respect for freedom of expression and information with regard to internet filters; the 2008 Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the internet (as amended by this Recommendation); Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment (as amended by this Recommendation); Recommendation CM/Rec(2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment (as amended by this Recommendation); and Recommendation CM/Rec(2001)8 on self-regulation concerning cyber content (self-regulation and user protection against illegal or harmful content on new communications and information services) (as amended by this Recommendation).
4. There is a need to provide children with the knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes, human rights values and behavior necessary to participate actively in social and public life, and to act responsibly while respecting the rights of others. This should include awareness and skills to identify and respond to on-line abuse and empowerment seek support in appropriate cases, especially when the victims are women or children.
6. The Committee of Ministers recommends that member states, in co-operation with private sector actors and civil society, develop and promote coherent strategies to protect children against content and behavior carrying a risk of harm, while advocating their active participation in and best possible use of the new information and communications environment, in particular by:
– promoting the development of skills among children, parents and educators to understand better and deal with content and behavior that carries a risk of harm and to understand the responsibilities and consequences of being involved in producing and disseminating illegal, harmful content, on-line bullying, harassment and other forms of malicious peer-to-peer communication;
Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5
III. Promoting Internet skills and literacy for children, parents and educators
15. Safe and secure spaces on the Internet and the labeling of online content can contribute to making the use of the Internet an enjoyable and confidence-building experience for children. It should, however, be accepted that it is not possible to eliminate entirely the danger of children being exposed to content or behavior carrying a risk of harm, and that consequently media (information) literacy for children, parents and educators remains a key element in providing coherent protection for children against such risks and empowering them in cases when they become victims, including gender based violence.
16. On this basis, member states, in co-operation with the private sector, associations of parents, teachers and educators, the media and civil society, are encouraged to promote media (information) literacy for children, paying particular attention to children who are already underprivileged in the new information and communication environments, and to girls from minority background what may be more exposed to certain forms of on-line crime (when sex, race and age intersects) and to human trafficking, for young people, parents and educators, in order to prepare them for possible encounters with content and behaviors carrying a risk of harm, in particular by:
– adapting school curricula to include practical learning about how best to use the Internet and ICTs, and encouraging teachers to analyse and counter sexism, racism, xenophobia and incitement to such behaviors in online content which shapes children’s attitudes.
1 Recommendation No. R(84) 17 on the equality between women and med in the media, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 1984.
2 See also Recommendation Rec. (2003) 3 of the Committee of Ministers and explanatory memorandum on Balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making.
3 See also Recommendation CM/Rec(2007) 17 of the Committee of Ministers and Explanatory Memorandum on Gender equality standards and mechanisms.