Published on 26/04/2021
Child using digital hardware
  • A cross-border system for online age verification and parental consent is at the heart of the project.
  • Aston University to lead the academic research work package of the euCONSENT consortium made up of twelve European organisations
  • Children and young people to help leading academics, NGOs and online safety groups design it. 

 

Researchers from Aston University led by Abhilash Nair are to take part in a ‘game-changing’ new project to improve children’s safety online.

The University is a central partner of the euCONSENT consortium, which is made up of twelve organisations from across Europe which brings together leading academics in the field of child rights, with input from a wide range of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) representing parents and children, to help design a Europe-wide system to protect children when they are online.

The European Commission has awarded the consortium €1.47m (£1.2m) in funding to create a child rights’ centred cross-border system for online age verification and parental consent. The project aims to enable a stronger regulatory protection for children using the internet across Europe.

The research will look to identify the challenges, gaps and good practices, and make a set of child-centred recommendations of the principles and requirements to be adopted in the system. 

Abhilash Nair, Director of Internet Law and Emerging Technologies (ILET) Research Group at Aston University said:

“I am very pleased that the academic research that Aston is leading on will underpin the core legal, policy, and regulatory principles for a new standard setting for child protection online.

“As society continues to grapple with inequalities in terms of digital literacy and digital divide between generations, it is important that the tech industry assumes more responsibility for protecting, as well as upholding the rights of children online.”

The consortium aims to develop a system which will allow service providers to verify the age of their users to protect them from harmful content and ensure younger children have parental consent before they share personal data, as required by relevant Union legislation such as the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Kostas Flokas, programme director of euCONSENT, said:

“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.”

Once the system is developed, a pilot study will be carried out involving 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 Union, with hundreds of Europe’s kids already positioned as its most enthusiastic advocates to their peers, their parents and EU policymakers.

Note to Editors

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 euCONSENT solution will be designed with the help of Europe’s children and the guidance of the continent’s leading academic experts, NGOs and other key stakeholders in child rights and protections online. 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 associated new technologies.

About Aston University

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email: s.cook2@aston.ac.uk

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Sue Smith, Head of Press and Communications
    0121 204 3521
    s.p.smith@aston.ac.uk

Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager
    0121 204 5065
    s.cook2@aston.ac.uk

Claire Fry, Press and Communications Manager
    0121 204 5068
    c.fry@aston.ac.uk

Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager
    0121 204 5159
    r.hume@aston.ac.uk

Alternatively, email pr@aston.ac.uk

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