Looking beyond the AVMSD and the GDPR for child online protection

The Audio Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) has been discussed for a while and the General Data Protection Regulation will enter into force next year. COFACE Families Europe was invited to an ERGA European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services workshop on the 4th of October to discuss the implications of both of these pieces of legislation for families and specifically child protection online.

COFACE Families Europe has actively contributed to both pieces of legislation and pushed for several core principles in order to better protect children. Our main focus was to protect children from advertising and marketing, especially online and with respect to unhealthy food and beverages (HFSS – High in Fat, Sugar or Salt), given that the AVMSD already regulated “traditional” media quite extensively.

As regards harmful content (violence, drugs, sex…), COFACE Families Europe especially insisted on the necessity for online service providers to enforce their own terms of service and community standards given that they explicitly forbid harmful content, but do a poor job of identifying it and taking it down.

Most specific recommendations include:

  •  Extending the logic of 20% maximum advertising per hour of television to online services: find a way to limit how much advertising there is online.
  • Prevent the excessive reliance on self-regulation in limiting online advertising which has yielded poor results.
  • Focus on interoperability for tools that allow for better parental control/parental mediation so that parents do not have to install or configure dozens of separate settings to keep their children safe, especially their younger children.
  • Convince online service providers to create a “basic online account” for children which would be fully private with strong data protection (encryption of the data shared), and would thus not necessitate parental consent since there would be no processing of personal data. This would allow children to experience a relatively less filtered internet without any targeted advertising.

Future challenges that the AVMSD failed to address so far includes:

  • The scope of what is considered to be advertising (unboxing videos on Youtube Kids? Viral marketing which relies on users sharing it themselves?).
  • New forms of media such as virtual or augmented reality and new technologies such as Internet of Things and connected toys through which a lot of marketing and data collection can happen.
  • How to regulate decentralized services which have no central authority liable for content?

For more information about this event, the AVMSD or the GDPR, please contact Martin Schmalzried at

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