Human rights of children online: examining the role of the private sector

Growing up online and using digital technologies offers limitless opportunities to all, including children. As the world embraces digitalization, children are getting access to digital platforms and spending more time online than before. Children learn and connect with peers through computers, gaming devices, smartphones, among other technologies.

However, these opportunities brought about by the internet have come with serious risks such as cyberbullying, data breaches, sexual exploitation and other forms of peer-to-peer violence. These risks affect young people each time they login to social media platforms. Cases of mental health issues, substance abuse, social isolation, self-harm or suicide have been reported globally as more children are exposed to hate speech and violent content online.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered systems and applications that children have access to regularly need data that is used by technology companies for targeted marketing. In many cases, the data involved is private – such as location information, medical records and biometric data – and children may disclose too much information to AI applications they interact with. These breaches of privacy can result in risks to the physical safety of the child for example, by hackers and their potential opportunities.


The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 2018 Resolution on “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet” (38/7) recognizes that privacy online is a right, and in the digital age, business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights as set out in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework.

Similarly, the Secretary General’s Digital Roadmap acknowledges, “A set of metrics to measure digital inclusion will be essential for evidence-based policymaking. The development of annual scorecards on digital inclusion and the establishment of metrics to measure both digital inclusion and literacy will accelerate the promotion of an inclusive digital ecosystem.” Digital inclusion is also a fundamental enabler for the SDGs and leaving no one behind, including children.

This cross-cutting emphasis on the online space and the rights of children combined with a global landscape where internet access has become a near prerequisite for the educational and social development of children. This presents a keystone opportunity to discuss emerging issues and challenges around child online protection and the role of business. For example, the World Benchmarking Alliance’s 2020 Digital Inclusion Benchmark’s findings (DIB) on child online protection found only 16 digital companies of the 100 assessed by the benchmark demonstrated a high-level commitment to child online protection.

This interactive side event will bring together global stakeholders to discuss best practices on child online protection and highlight the actions the private sector needs to take to make the internet a safe space for children.


  1. Bring together global stakeholders to discuss the role of the private sector and standard-setting in protecting the rights of children online;
  2. Discuss the current landscape of business action to ensure the rights of children online, including frameworks and assessments of leading practices;
  3. Identify solutions to operationalize and implement policies pertaining to children’s rights online, including meeting calls to action from UNHRC Resolution 38/7.

This side event is scheduled for 24th June 2021 at 1:00pm -2:15pm CEST and it is co-hosted by:

  • World Benchmarking Alliance
  • Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva
  • Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva
  • Universal Rights Group
  • Global Child Forum


The speakers include:

  • H.E. Anna Jardfelt, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva (Keynote Speaker)
  • Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children
  • Andrew Mawson, Chief, Child Rights and Business, UNICEF
  • Marc Limon, Executive Director, Universal Rights Group (Moderator)
  • Filippa Bergin, Head of Research and Development, Global Child Forum
  • Andrew Buay, Vice President of Group Sustainability, Singtel and Optus
  • Lourdes Montenegro, Digital Benchmark Lead, World Benchmarking Alliance


We invite you to register for the event by clicking on the below registration button.

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