EU Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, have signed a joint Declaration to “work collectively and in partnership to reduce the risks and maximise the benefits of the Internet for children.” The declaration demonstrates a mutual recognition by the United States and the EU of the need to establish appropriate safeguards to strengthen cyber security, and will complement the EU “Strategy for a Better Internet for Children.”

The declaration sets out plans to create joint U.S./EU campaigns, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security scheduled to participate in the EU Safer Internet Day 5 February 2013. The joint campaigns will seek to improve cybersecurity and focus on international cooperation between industry, public authorities, schools, and civil society to ensure a global audience.

According to the European Commission, 75% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 routinely use the Internet, and the declaration sets out three main objectives to protect children online:

  1. Increase awareness of risks and improve skills of children, and engage parents and teachers to help enable best use of the Internet by collaborating on cybersecurity awareness
  2. Work with industry, law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure that Internet content and services can be trusted, and parents and children can make informed choices
  3. Cooperate in fighting online child sexual exploitation and abuse

The EU and U.S. have historically worked together to combat cybercrime and have established an EU-U.S. Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime, and it is this existing collaboration that has led to this “key milestone.”