"Nowadays, we agree to some rules almost everywhere we go, and sometimes without even realising. For example, what about at school? There are most likely some rules you must follow – being in class on time, sitting exams, and so on. What about on public transport in cities? By boarding a bus or metro, for example, you probably implicitly agree to rules for their use. However, let's be honest, have you actually read all the rules? Do you know enough about them?
"The internet is no exception in this regard. We can find similar rules, usually called ‘terms and conditions' on every internet service, platform, or app. The problem is that most users do not read them. There are many reasons for this. First of all, the terms and conditions are really long, usually having several pages of plain small text. There are often written in complicated ‘legal language' that even native speakers sometimes do not really get. In some cases, the companies do not even use the native language of the country the services operate in.
"Despite what is foreseen in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), forcing companies to provide information in a plain, recognisable, and accessible form does not fully work here. And that is why we have decided to change that! I and five other Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Ambassadors – Sina, Haris, Kathrin, Algirdas and Eiman – had an amazing opportunity to join the Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations in the European Commission (EC) to present and launch the #Pledge2Youth initiative.
"The initiative aims to get companies to explain their terms and conditions in a more accessible and easy-to-understand way. As a suggestion, we proposed using infographics, animations and short videos, as well as a navigation throughout the whole page. Our goal is to help everyone to understand exactly what rights and responsibilities users have. We know that, for legal reasons, we are unable to change the terms and conditions themselves; instead, we want to change the way we explain them.
"Our second point is more about encouragement than a whole new concept. We would like to see privacy settings, that were introduced by many social networks a few years ago, to be used more. Our proposal is to set all privacy settings to their maximum by default if a minor registers. Equally, adult users, in our opinion, should encounter privacy settings ‘in their face' before they are even able to log in for the first time. We know that, on many platforms, the privacy settings are set to a high level already, so this is more about advertising them.
"This objective of ours is not to force someone to apply all these measures instantly. We aim to start a discussion; a dialogue between industry and the policymakers with the help of youth, as they play a fairly big role among all users. And, a final thought… I hope that it will be possible to come to a solution that will satisfy all parties. We are fully open to any discussions and would be more than happy to help during the development process!"
About the author:
Hi! I'm Matěj from Czechia, a 16-year-old grammar school student. I invest my free time in electronics, programming and drawing, from which I've partially moved on to graphics. I started working with my national Safer Internet Centre (SIC) in 2019, joining their youth panel and taking part in a conference about internet safety. After that, I was chosen to participate in the BIK Youth Panel 2019. Because I've been using computers from what I would call a really young age, I have a lot of different experiences related to using information technology. I believe that the internet is an awesome invention and I would love to contribute to helping people use it in the safest way possible.