Language is never straight forward. It is nuanced, open to interpretation, and the same words can often mean different things to different people. So, when one of our partners, Age Check Certification Scheme, accepted the task of generating a glossary of terms for the euCONSENT project, we anticipated challenges ahead. ACCS have been working at pace to establish a Common Vocabulary that can be utilised by all partners across the euCONSENT Consortium for the duration of the project, and create something that will be integral to running the euCONSENT system after the project has finished.
The Common Vocabulary presented various challenges, including that of lexicography in what is a legal minefield, as there exists the widespread use of terms, like ‘parental controls’, that are ill-defined in standards, regulation and guidance. Using this example, as the current methods for Age Verification and Parental Consent vary – often drastically – across each EU Member State, it raises the question of how terms like these are meant to be singularly defined, especially considering the challenge posed by multiple languages, and ensuring the terms mean the same thing to all readers.
An extensive research period generated hundreds of terms and definitions, which ACCS had to whittle down to the core terms that would be most relevant for the project. With plenty of gaps to address, it became a question of how to fill those gaps, as well as being able to identify the terms that will undoubtedly emerge as euCONSENT progresses.
The role of standards must also be considered, and getting this vocabulary into normative documents, which will involve a consultation period and be subjected to a process of approval. Though this looks set to be a lengthy process, through collaboration with euCONSENT partners such as Aston University, the University of Leiden and the London School of Economics and Political Science, fantastic progress has been made so far, and we are hopeful that this Common Vocabulary will be a catalyst for how we use language to address the issues of Age Verification and Parental Consent across the European Union going forward.
We would very much appreciate feedback on our Glossary of Terms, and invite any comments, suggestions and improvements that you may have.