EU Wants to Make Internet Safe for Children

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has launched a 45 million euro ($60 million) plan to protect children from pornography and racist sites when they surf the Internet.

"Children are using the Internet more and more and can come across dangerous content. It's essential to inform parents what tools they can use," Viviane Reding, the European Information Society and Media Commissioner, told a news conference.

Around 60 percent of children regularly surf the Internet in Scandinavia and countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, Estonia and the Czech Republic, data issued by the European Commission on Thursday showed.

But most parents are not aware of the potential risks or do not know who to contact when they come across harmful content, Reding said.

The four-year EU program follows up a 38 million euro project that led to the creation of "hotlines" where parents could report illegal content found on the Internet.

It will increase the number of hotlines, finance technology to filter out pornography and raise awareness among parents and children, though it was not clear if the funds will be distributed to member states or used at the European level.

As an example of the project's value, Reding said existing hotlines, active in 18 EU states and Iceland, had helped the police to crack down on pedophile networks.

"Last month a tip from the hotline in Spain led to the arrest of 90 people, the largest operation against a pedophile network in the country," she said. ($1=.7528 Euro)

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