euCONSENT is an EU-funded research and development initiative bringing together twelve partners including academic institutions, NGOs and technology providers to design, deliver and pilot a new Europe-wide system for online age verification and parental consent. Designed with a child rights perspective in mind, the solution aims to protect children from online harm by restricting their access to age-inappropriate content, such as sexually explicit or violent content, gambling, or purchasing age-restricted goods.
Led by Upcom, the18-month project aims to demonstrate an interoperable technical infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child protection mechanisms (such as age verification) and parental consent mechanisms as required by relevant EU legislation, such as the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Read findings report
Final project summary
Professor Sonia Livingstone, a leading expert on child rights in the digital age who heads LSE’s research team, explains:
“The challenge will be to serve children’s best interests by balancing their rights to protection and safety with their rights to participation, inclusion and privacy, among other rights. It’s great that this project will consult European children from the outset, and be guided by their views also in formulating the project results.”
The focus of the LSE team is on ensuring that a child rights perspective is integral to the development of technological solutions. The team is using a rapid evidence review to assess the evidence on age verification and parental control solutions as grounded in the everyday lives of families and children. Particular attention is paid to illuminating the experiences of vulnerable, marginalised or at-risk children and families, for example, disabled children, those living in foster care, migrant or refugee children. The findings of the review will inform the development of system features and user requirements underpinning the technological solutions delivered by the partner organisations.
This research is funded by a grant from the European Commission: PPPA-AGEVER-01-2020: “Outline and trial an infrastructure dedicated to the implementation of child rights and protection mechanisms in the online domain.”
- Smirnova, S, Livingstone, S and Stoilova, M (2021) Understanding of user needs and problems: a rapid evidence review of age assurance and parental controls. euConsent. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/112559/
- Livingstone, Sonia, Stoilova, Mariya and Smirnova, Svetlana (2021) Can the internet be age appropriate, or at least not inappropriate or harmful? The promise of age verification and parental control tools. euCONSENT
- What the evidence shows. Understanding of User Needs and Problems.’ Speaker at the euCONSENT conference, Online Child’s Rights, Age Verification and Parental Consent: Finding the balance. September 2021. Athens/online [YouTube]
Do parental control tools fulfil family expectations for child protection? Presentation, with Mariya Stoilova, to the euCONSENT Conference, “Online Child’s Rights, Age Verification and Parental Consent: Delivering the Balance.” Athens, May 2022 [YouTube]
Professor Sonia Livingstone
Interests and expertise: media and everyday life; media audiences; children and digital media; media literacy; children’s rights in the digital environment; mediated participation; online risks, privacy and safety; media regulation in the public interest.
Dr Mariya Stoilova
Interests and expertise: digital technologies, well-being, and family support; social change and transformations of intimate life; citizenship and social inequalities.
Dr Svetlana Smirnova
Interests and expertise: self-tracking for health & wellness, health communication and nutritional practices, data collection, tracking routines, reflexivity surrounding personal data.
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