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Youth Protection - What must I know?

Parental control software

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Parental control software

What is parental control software?

For a number of years a number of filter programs have been in existence, which allow parents, guardians and others responsible for supervision to control which Internet content is accessible for children and young people. These are user-autonomous filters which are active only on the end-device (P.C, tablet, mobile telephone) or in the home network (over the router). This does not affect Internet use by adults. In many households filters of this kind are already present as a component of Internet security suites.

The Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) allows providers to distribute content liable to be damaging to development inter alia if these are programmed for a recognised parental control software. These are filter programs which meet special requirements in their range of features and performance. They must be tested for suitability and receive the approval of the Commission for Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM). Not every filter program is a parental control software in the sense of the JMStV.

What are the requirements for parental control software?

In May 2011, the KJM, which continues to have sole responsibility, for the first time published concrete criteria for the recognition of parental control software in Germany. On this basis, it is now possible for providers of filter software to orient the development of their programs to the expectations of the regulatory authority.

Where do I find approved parental control software?

On 8th February 2012, the KJM approved in Germany two parental control software with its requirements:

How does parental control software work?

Parental control software consists in principle of a number of components:

  • Blacklist (list of generally inadmissible web sites, e.g. BPjM-Modul)
  • White list (list of generally unproblematic sites suitable for children, e.g. fragFINN)
  • extensive lists of age-differentiated content (admissible according to the age level in the software)
  • ability to detect technical age labels, corresponding to the common Standard (age-de.xml)
How well do youth protection filters work?

First, a distinction must be made between youth protection filters and parental control software, in the sense of the JMStV: Only the latter, if they are approved by the KJM, can have indirect legal effect in connection with the distribution of content presenting harm for development. But filter software which is not approved by the KJM and was not developed for the same purpose can also contribute to improving the safety of children and young people in surfing the Internet.

The KJM requires that, to receive approval, parental control software correctly identifies web sites which are unsuitable for all children and young people with an accuracy of 80 percent. In the experience of the FSM, this value is considerably exceeded when the software is set for use by children (under 12 years of age).

Within the Safer Internet Programme of the European Commission, the project SIP-BENCH 2 is concerned with testing and evaluation of youth protection filters. The approach there is to provide an EU-wide review of available programs irrespective of national characteristics. Also included are programs for mobile end-devices and the youth protection functionality games consoles. A summary of the results is available from the site of the Youth Protection Roundtable. From there, parents can select the most suitable products for their individual requirements.