euCONSENT consortium awarded European Commission funding to create a child rights’ centred cross-border system for online age verification and parental consent.
Athens, 21 April 2021. In a bold step towards enabling stronger regulatory online protection for European children, a consortium of twelve of the continent’s leading academic institutions, NGOs and technology providers has been awarded EU funding to design, deliver and pilot a new Europe-wide system. This solution will allow service providers to verify the age of their users to protect them from harmful content, and will ensure that younger children have parental consent before they share personal data. The Age Verification Providers Association is a leading member of the team that will deliver this system.
euCONSENT is a European Commission project under the call: “Outline and trial an infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child rights and protection mechanisms in the online domain based on the GDPR and other existing EU legislation relevant for the child within the online domain”.
The objective of this project, initiated by the European Parliament, is to demonstrate an interoperable technical infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child protection mechanisms (such as age verification) and parental consent mechanisms as required by relevant EU legislation (such as the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)).
The euCONSENT solution will be designed with help from children and young people and under the guidance of the continent’s leading academic experts, NGOs and other key stakeholders in child rights and online safety. EU Kids Online, Eurochild and COFACE – FAMILIES EUROPE, amongst others, will provide regular input to the work of the project team, which will be advised by an expert panel, chaired by John Carr OBE, one of the world’s leading authorities on children’s and young people’s use of the internet and digital technologies.
The new system will then be used during a pilot phase by over 1,500 children, young people and parents from at least three EU Member States. Users’ experience will be independently evaluated to provide convincing evidence for this solution to be adopted across the EU, with hundreds of Europe’s kids already positioned as its most enthusiastic advocates to their peers, their parents and EU policymakers.
Programme Director, Kostas Flokas, CEO of Upcom said:
“The euCONSENT consortium brings together Europe’s leading academics in the field of child rights, with input from a wide range of NGOs representing parents and children, to help design a Europe-wide system to protect children when they are online. This will be delivered by a first-class team of companies from Europe’s fast-growing Safetytech sector, independently audited and evaluated to give confidence to parents, children, websites, video-sharing platforms and policymakers that euCONSENT can deliver an efficient and effective mechanism to make the internet a safer place for European kids.”
Professor Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics and Political Science said:
“Designing a system of child protection for the digital environment that is truly rights-respecting is an important task, and one that many families are calling for. The challenge will be to serve children’s best interests by balancing their rights to protection and safety with their rights to participation, inclusion and privacy, among other rights. It’s great that this project will consult European children from the outset, and be guided by their views also in formulating the project results.”
June Lowery Kingston, Head of Unit “Accessibility, Multilingualism & Safer Internet” European Commission said:
“The EU is committed to a safer digital environment. Protecting children from age-inappropriate material online, which may damage their safety and well-being, requires more than just ticking a box or entering a fake date of birth. If successful, this project can positively change the lives of many European families, giving parents peace of mind, and allowing the under 18s to fully and safely participate in life online”.
Alastair Graham, Co-Chair of the Age Verification Providers Association said:
“We are delighted to have been given a pivotal role in designed a European-wide system to facilitate age verification and parental consent. AVPA members lead the world in this field, and we are keen to share our collective technical expertise with the euCONSENT project team, while benefiting from the views of children across the continent in how to deliver a solution that champions their rights online.”
Tony Allen, Founder & CEO, Age Check Certification Scheme said:
“Public trust and assurance for age verification and parental consent processes across Europe will need to be underpinned by robust standards, an operating framework and clear accountability. By working with the EU’s institutions, international standards bodies and certification schemes, the EU Consent programme will develop and deliver the frameworks needed to secure broad acceptability and confidence.”
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Notes to Editors
Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) requires Member States to ensure that video-sharing platform providers take measures to protect minors when using their services. Such measures can include age verification systems for users of video-sharing platforms with respect to content that may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors (Article 28b.3(f)).
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) specifies the age as of which children may consent to processing in relation to information society services (Article 8(1)). When the child is below the specified age, the GDPR requires controllers to make reasonable efforts to verify that consent is given or authorised by the holder of parental responsibility over the child, taking into consideration available technology (Article 8(2)).
Technical measures will be based on the use of electronic identification means (in particular, electronic identification schemes notified by Member States under the eIDAS Regulation)
The euCONSENT consortium will put into live operation extensions to the eIDAS infrastructure required to deliver its vision for pan-European, open-system, secure and certified interoperable age verification and parental consent to access Information Society Services.
About the euCONSENT consortium
The euCONSENT project will start immediately and runs for 18 months.
It will be delivered by a consortium of twelve European organisations:
- Upcom (Greece)
- Age Check Certification Services Ltd (UK)
- Jusprog (Germany)
- AGEify Ltd (Cyprus)
- Checktech Service (Germany)
- Lisal Expert (Romania)
- Revealing Reality (UK)
- Universiteit Leiden (Netherlands)
- Aston University (UK)
- London School of Economics And Political Science (UK)
- The Age Verification Providers Association (Global)
- Digie B.V. (Belgium)
For further information, and to sign up to receive regular updates and participate in consultations, please visit www.euCONSENT.eu
The Advisory Panel will be chaired by John Carr OBE – more details http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com/