Mr. Tong Lihua’s Speech in the sub forum of the 4th World Internet Conference: “The Safeguarding the Future: Online Protection of Underage Users”

On the morning of December 4th, 2017, the sub forum of the 4th World Internet Conference:  “The Safeguarding the Future: Online Protection of Underage Users” was hold in Wuzhen International Internet  Exhibition & Conference Center.

He Junke, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of CYLC; President of the All-China Youth Federation; Yin Dongmei, Member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of CYLC; Fatoumata Ndiaye, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and etc., attended this sub forum and delivered their speeches. And more than 110 Chinese and foreign government officials, representatives of international and youth organizations, eminent scholars and representatives of Internet businesses attended this forum and carried out the thorough exchange related to “The Promotion of Legislations and Policies on Online Protection of Minors” and “Society-shared Governance to Protect Underage Internet Users”.

At the forum, Wang Liming, senior Vice-President of Renmin University of China, Associate Chairman of China Law Society, Chairman of China Civil Law Society; Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary- General on Violence against Children; Shen Weixing, Dean of the School of Law, Tsinghua University; Subbotin Vadim, Deputy Dean of the Federal Service for Supervision in the sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications; Lin Wei, Vice-President of the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Vice-President of the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Science; Major Dana Humaid Almarzooqi, Acting Director of Child Protection Center at UAE’s Ministry of Interior, Board Member of WePROTECT; Shi Weizhong, Deputy Director of Juvenile Procuratorial Work Office and Public Prosecution Department of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of P.R. China; Jasmina Byme, Child protection specialist, Innocenti, UNICEF; Chen Juhong, Vice President of Tencent; Fuad Muradov, Head of Youth and Sports Committee at the Parliament of Azerbaijan Republic, President of “Great Silk Way” International Youth Union; Stefan Sunde, President of New Zealand Young Nationals; Wang Shengbo, President of the All-China Students’ Federation; Jacques Sauret, Internet Expert, Foundation Prospective & Innovation; Nicholas Khoo, Member of National Youth Council of Singapore; Tong Lihua, Director of the Minor Protection Special Committee of the All-China Lawyers Association, Director of Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center and 16 other guests, respectively, revolving around 2 topics: “The Promotion of Legislations and Policies on Online Protection of Minors” and “Society-shared Governance to Protect Underage Internet Users” shared their understanding and view of strengthening the online protection of underage users.

Tong Lihua, Director of Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center, delivered his speech: <Protection of the rights and interests of minors in theory and practice>.

I’ve have been working on child protection in China for almost 20 years. To be frankly, in the past years, we’ve all faced many challenges in the offline practice, not only China but also all over the world. Nevertheless, with the rapid development of the Internet business recent years, more and more new challenges has come out. As a result, the child protection is now facing even much greater challenge. And it is true, we cannot ignore it. Therefore, from this point of view, how can we deal with such challenges?

In principle, on the one hand, we need to protect the children’s right to access to the Internet, in order to enable them to acquire knowledge more easily and even enjoy entertainment from the Internet; On the other hand, we also need to protect children from getting harmed or addicted to the Internet. This is the basic principle. And in the context of such principle, I’d like to stress 3 basic points in the following “Society-shared Governance to Protect Underage Internet Users” Discussion Session.

First, the online protection of children cannot work without family support. The happiness that family conveyed to children can prevent children from indulging in the Internet. And the effective communication between parents and children can also prevent children from being harmed by the Internet. But in this era, we cannot just blame to parents for their failure to help their children. In fact, many times parents also need helps. So in the current social context: how can we help to improve parents’ ability, and enable them to educate, guide and help their children to cope with the current internet era? This is an important task that we urgently need to do. 

Second, in today’s society, almost all of the countries are aware of the importance of the legislature. But more importantly, we have to focus on how these legislations and policies are implemented. It’s true that more and more we’ve realized that how important role the professional child protection social organizations played in the field of child protection. However, in such a rapid Internet development era, we also urgently need to cultivate a large numbers of professional social organization in order to engage in the online children protection. And what can these professional social organizations of online children protection do? They can help children in time when their rights are violated. These professional social organization can also lead and help parents, educators, societies to understand how to help children to cope with current internet society. What’s more, these professional social organization can also carry out large numbers of monographic studies to help policy makers formulate more professional and effective policies. Therefore, we urgently need to develop such professional social organizations that help children protect their rights in the Internet.

Third, the responsibility of the Internet enterprise cannot be avoided, and should play a more important role.

I was very inspired after listening to Tencent’s speech just now. From the perspective of the Internet enterprise, we should not only provide our children with a heathy online environment and online products, but also has to promptly respond to all kinds of complaints about children being harmed on the Internet. In addition, Internet enterprises cannot only focus on the protection of children’s rights online. Since the Internet era has already brought even greater challenges to protection children’s rights offline, the online and offline child protection has become an integral part. This is the real challenge to child protection. Therefore, from this perspective, the Internet enterprise should also pay attention and participate in the protection of children’s rights offline.

The protection of children’s right in the Internet is an international topic. And the current rapid Internet development era is also the increasingly globalized era. Therefore, the topic that we are discussing today is the topic of great historical significance. In order to protect the rights of children in the Internet and to safeguard the healthy growth of our next generations, we shall have more practical discussion in the future in order for us to jointly promote the development of the children protection and let our children healthily grow up.