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Vatican City, February, 8th, 2018 (Delphine Allaire/Vaticannews). On the occasion of the "Safer Internet Day," launched in 2004, UNICEF called for urgent measures to protect children's digital rights. Such efforts resonate perfectly with what Pope Francis has been saying for five years.
Respect for privacy, defamation, paedophilia and pornography: children are now the first victims of these four digital wounds.
On February 6th, the day for "a safer Internet", the Pope has dedicated his daily tweet to the virtual threats that hang over children: "We are all called to commit ourselves to protect children in the digital world".
1 in 3 internaut is a child
According to Unicef figures published on February 6, more than 175,000 children connect to the Internet for the first time each day - one child every half-second. One in three Internet users is a child, the organization was alarmed.
"It's as simple as clicking a link to have a child, somewhere, create a digital trail that those who do not necessarily take into account the best interests of the child can follow and potentially exploit," said Laurence Chandy, Director of Data, Research and Policy, UNICEF. Hence the responsibility of companies to advance the development of ethical standards for data protection and privacy.
A concern of Pope Francis
The dangers of the digital world have been repeatedly mentioned in Pope Francis encyclical ‘Laudato Si', which, while underlining the fabulous potentialities that these new horizons could represent, also acted as their "superficial" character.
With the eruption of digital and its underlying technological revolution, " people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities," the Holy Father noted in Laudato Si '.
“The accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything”, he continues, stressing the "non-neutrality” of science and technology.
The dignity of minors in question in Rome
The dignity of minors in the digital world had already been the subject of a congress in October 2017 at the Gregorian University in Rome. The Pope then spoke of the "800 million minors sailing online", referring to the phenomena breaking on the web or the dark net, such as "the dissemination of pornographic images, sexting, harassment, sexual soliciting of minors", as well as crimes such as "online human trafficking or prostitutions".
Faced with the development of digital culture, carrying real risks, in addition to its significant contributions, the Pope considered it necessary, during this conference, to develop an interdisciplinary approach that sets the framework for a legislative evolution, which is the only guarantee for "the protection of the dignity of young people, their healthy growth, their joy and their hope".