Recordings from our European Forum are available on the FOSI YouTube Channel.
On Thursday, 23rd June, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted its 2022 European Forum, entitled “Online Safety: A Transatlantic View.” It was our first in-person event since 2019 and was hosted by Google, with additional sponsorship and support provided by TikTok and Yoti. The event aimed to capture multiple perspectives on the online safety landscape between the US, UK, and Europe.
The day opened with remarks from Stephen Balkam (FOSI) and Markham Cho Erickson (Google); who spoke to both the opportunities and challenges that technology presents, and announced Google’s sponsorship of FOSI’s upcoming research on age assurance. Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, Founder of the 5Rights Foundation, delivered a keynote address on the mandate of responsibility, the balance of rights and access, and setting high standards for how parents, policymakers and companies can do better. She discussed the necessity of translating children’s rights into the digital world, how governments must work together to set a minimum floor for online safety, and how industry must push to innovate both safer and more private solutions to children’s online safety.
The first panel of the day, “Can We Regulate Online Safety?” was moderated by Julie Dawson (Yoti), and featured panelists Martin Drechsler (FSM), Alexandra Evans (TikTok), Fred Langford (Ofcom), and Sonia Livingstone (London School of Economics). The discussion covered high level points such as the intersection of privacy and safety online and attempts by governments and industry to balance free speech and expression with creating safe online environments for all populations, especially children and teens, as well as more specific examples of industry self-regulation and safety by design principles.
The forum’s second panel, “Making Age Assurance a Reality,” was moderated by Stephen Balkam, and featured panelists Asha Allen (CDT), Iain Corby (Age Verification Providers Association), Almudena Lara (Google), Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov (The LEGO Group), and Dr. Rachel O’Connell (TrustElevate). The panel discussed the advantages and disadvantages of age assurance practices including verifiable parental consent, and the delicate balance that is needed between the protection of minors, the proportionality of risk and data minimization, and the importance of child rights. This conversation explored what would make for a holistic approach to age assurance in regards to industry, regulators, users, and other stakeholders.
Advocacy Director for Europe, Online Expression & Civic Space
Center for Democracy & Technology, Europe
Asha Allen serves as Advocacy Director for Europe, Online Expression & Civic Space at CDT Europe Office in Brussels, where she leads our work on issues at the intersection of online expression, civic engagement, and technology. Asha’s work focuses on advocating for the preservation of fundamental rights in European Union/Regional legislation, and democratic accountability in industry content policies.
Asha came to CDT as an intersectional digital rights advocate, with an extensive background in combating online gender based violence, having worked on projects with the United Nations, Council of Europe and OSCE. She coordinated the #HerNetHerRights II campaign which aimed to increase women’s safety and participation online during the European elections. Reaching over 3 million people, she established herself as the leading policy expert in this field in Brussels.
Asha emerged into this area having worked as policy officer in the field of gender-based and domestic violence, and as an independent researcher, she has published analyses on the intersection between online discourse and the securitisation of migration, and the online facilitation of human trafficking. In her spare time, Asha is one of six women who front the Who Writes the Rules Campaign, which advocates for increased participation of women of colour in EU policy making and the tech industry.
Asha completed an internship in the European Parliament and holds a BA in American Studies and MA in Transnational Studies from the University of Kent. Alongside an MSc in European Studies from KU Leuven, where she specialised in transnational and global perspectives, international human rights law, and EU policy making.
Founder & CEO
Family Online Safety Institute
For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in both the US and UK. He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes the top thinkers and practitioners in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate and to create a “culture of responsibility” in the online world.
Prior to FOSI, Stephen was the Founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and led a team which developed the world’s leading content labeling system on the web. While with ICRA, Stephen served on the US Child Online Protection Commission (COPA) in 2000 and was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.
In 1994, Stephen was named the first Executive Director of the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) which created a unique self-labeling system for computer games and then, in 1996, Stephen launched RSACi – a forerunner to the ICRA website labeling system. For his efforts in online safety, Stephen was given the 1998 Carl Bertelsmann Prize in Gutersloh, Germany, for innovation and responsibility in the Information Society and was invited to the first and subsequent White House Internet Summits during the Clinton Administration.
Stephen’s other positions include the Executive Director of the National Stepfamily Association (UK); General Secretary of the Islington Voluntary Action Council; Executive Director of Camden Community Transport as well as management positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and Inter-Action. Stephen’s first job was with Burroughs Machines (now Unisys) and he had a spell working for West Nally Ltd – a sports sponsorship PR company.
Stephen received a BA, magna cum laude, in Psychology from University College, Cardiff, Wales in 1977. A native of Washington, DC, Stephen spent many years in the UK and is now has dual citizenship. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post, appears often on TV and has appeared on nationally syndicated TV and radio programs such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC and has been interviewed by leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, radio and in the mainstream press. He has given presentations and spoken in 15 countries on 4 continents.
Markham Cho Erickson
Vice President Government Affairs & Public Policy, Centers of Excellence
Markham leads Google’s Centers of Excellence—a global team of subject matter experts focused on the application of law and policy to technology and the Internet. The CoE is a hub for strategy and expertise on the global government affairs and public policy issues affecting Google's business today and in the future.
Prior to joining Google, Markham was an attorney in private practice in the United States, where he represented Internet, media, and telecommunications companies in regulatory complaints, investigations, rule-makings, legislative and policy matters, trial and appellate advocacy, and merger investigations. In private practice, he represented Internet companies from the inception of the commercial Internet in the mid-1990s and was involved in crafting the global regulations that apply to Internet and technology companies.
Markham has been widely recognized as one of the nation’s top Internet and media lawyers. He served as co-chair to the annual Broadband and Cable Law Seminar at the Practicing Law Institute in New York City. He was ranked in Chambers USA in Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite – District of Columbia; Super Lawyers in communications law; and The Legal 500, which described him as a “substantive legal expert with great connection and understanding of the regulatory process, as well as a command of the political, policy, and relations aspect of regulatory work.” In recognition of his authority in the field, Mr. Erickson was appointed by the White House to represent the United States before the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Internet speech and regulatory matters.
Markham graduated from George Washington University Law School, with Honors, and Wheaton College, where he majored in English Literature.
Markham Cho Erickson
The Age Verification Providers Association
Iain is the Executive Director of the global trade body for the suppliers of age assurance technology, and project manager for the euCONSENT programme, delivering interoperable age checks and a mechanism for parental consent across the EU/EEA/UK. He read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford, has an MBA from UCLA and has previously worked as a management consultant for Deloitte, led a research team in the UK Parliament, and been deputy CEO of the leading UK charity GambleAware. He sits on the UK Information Commissioner’s Children Advisory Panel, and is founder of SafetyTech Limited advising clients in a number of industries on a wide-range of online compliance matters.
Director of Regulatory & Policy
Julie leads regulatory and government relations, steers ethics framework development liaising closely with the Yoti Guardians Council, and prepares Yoti for external accreditations - such as ISO 27001, HIPAA, BCorps for ethics and transparency and the SOC2 security accreditation.
Yoti is an identity checking system that allows organisations to verify who people are, online and in person. Yoti has a team of over 300 based in London, with offices in Mumbai and present in the US, Canada and Australia. We count over 11 million installs of the Yoti app, following our launch in November 2017. For consumers, it’s an app that helps them prove who they are and confirm the identities of others. We distinguish ourselves with our approach to privacy and security; the system has been architected so that it's impossible for us to monetise users personal data.
Julie serves on a number of Boards - WEF Digital Identity Innovators & Global Coalition for Digital Safety, member of the IEEE Children’s Advisory Group, the OSTIA Online Safety Tech Industry Association and the techUK digital identity and Public Sector Board.
FSM (Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers)
Martin Drechsler has been Managing Director of the FSM (Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers) since 2016. He studied law in Berlin and Hagen. After his legal clerkship, he worked as a lawyer in Berlin. Since joining the FSM in 2008, he has been responsible for legal and technical aspects of online child protection. He advises FSM members on the classification of web content and the design of parental control tools. Martin Drechsler coordinates the FSM's international activities and gives lectures on youth protection and media law. From 2013, he was Deputy Managing Director of the FSM. Martin Drechsler has been a member of the board of Deutschland sicher im Netz (DsiN) since 2016.
Director of Safety Public Policy for Europe
Alexandra is Director of Safety Public Policy for Europe. Before joining TikTok, Alexandra was Chief of Strategy at the 5Rights Foundation where she played a leading role in the successful campaign to enshrine enhanced data rights for children in UK law. As Policy Director of the BBFC, she was responsible for UK classification standards in cinemas, on DVD and online. Before specialising in digital policy, Alexandra practiced law at Mishcon de Reya, advising clients on discrimination, free speech, privacy and reputation protection.
Topics Alexandra works on at TikTok include online child sexual abuse and exploitation, bullying/harassment, harmful and inappropriate content, data protection and privacy, access to information, evolving developmental capacities of children, design of services, digital wellbeing and digital rights.
Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE
Baroness Kidron is a Crossbench Peer in the UK House of Lords and Chair of 5Rights Foundation. After 30 years as an award-winning film director, Kidron was appointed to the House of Lords where she has been a world leading advocate for digital regulation and accountability, most particularly in relation to children and young people under the age of 18. She is best known as the architect of the Age Appropriate Design Code, which prompted a radical redesign of digital products and services to protect the safety and privacy of children.
Baroness Kidron is the Founder and Chair of 5Rights Foundation, a charity whose mission is to build the digital world children and young people deserve. 5Rights has pioneered a range of international treaties, policies and programmes and voluntary standards, and has worked with governments and international organisations on developing policy and practice to change the digital world and acknowledge the rights and needs of children. She is currently working with bi-partisan lawmakers in California to introduce California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill.
Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE
Director of Online Technology
Dr Fred Langford is Director of Online Technology at UK Communications Regulator Ofcom joining in November 2020 and is a highly experienced leader. His work predominantly focuses on directing Ofcom's technical requirements in relation to the new UK Online Safety regulatory regime. Prior to joining Ofcom Fred was Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer at Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and President of INHOPE (International CSEA Hotline Association). Fred has 30 years’ experience across a variety of sectors (Commercial, CSO’s, Military and Regulatory) primarily focusing on the internet, its technology, governance, security, safety and regulation. Fred is a Board Member of Video Standards Council which sets PEGI ratings in the UK, Former Chair of the UK Council for Internet Safety, Technical Working Group (UKCIS TWG), Board Member of the UK Home Office Child Abuse Image Database Strategic Group, Member of the National Crime Agency (NCA) Prevent Strategic Board, a founding Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and is an expert advisor to UK and other Governments, Parliamentarians, The Commonwealth, Police and NGOs. Fred is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Suffolk, a Chartered Director and Non-Exec Board member of the Video Standards Council https://videostandards.org.uk/RatingBoard/
Head of Child Safety Public Policy
Almudena is the global lead on child safety public policy at Google, where she leads work on protecting children from child sexual abuse and exploitation and providing safe experiences to children across products. She joined Google from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the UK’s largest child protection charity where she led the work to influence the debate in the UK on online safety and wider child protection issues. Formerly, she led major programmes for improving the outcomes for children at the UK Department for Education and at the UK’s Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.
London School of Economics
Sonia Livingstone DPhil (Oxon), OBE, FBA, FBPS, FAcSS, FRSA, is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Taking a comparative, critical and contextualised approach, her research examines how changing conditions of mediation reshape everyday practices and possibilities for action. She has published 20 books on media audiences, children and young people’s risks and opportunities, media literacy and rights in the digital environment, including “Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives” (OUP 2020). Since founding the EC-funded 33 country “EU Kids Online” research network, and Global Kids Online (with UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti), she has advised the Council of Europe, European Commission, European Parliament, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, OECD, ITU and UNICEF. She chaired LSE’s Truth, Trust and Technology Commission and is currently leading the Digital Futures Commission with the 5Rights Foundation. See www.sonialivingstone.net
Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov
Senior Manager, Digital Child Safety
The LEGO Group
Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov is Senior Manager, Digital Child Safety, supporting The LEGO Group as a trusted leader in implementing and promoting digital child safety, wellbeing and citizenship in parallel with responsible digital engagement with children. As a lawyer, law professor and child online protection expert with more than 20 years experience, she has advised government and child protection agencies, non-profits and think tanks on public awareness campaigns, research initiatives and public policy strategies related to digital safety, parenting, and wellbeing. She has also held several key consultancies in Europe for the Council of Europe (Children's Rights and Education divisions), Microsoft EMEA (Digital Safety), European Schoolnet (Online Safety), and e-Enfance/INSAFE (French Helpline).
Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov
Dr. Rachel O’Connell
Founder & CEO
Dr. Rachel O’Connell, founder & CEO of TrustElevate, a child age verification and parental consent provider. Rachel is one of the preeminent authorities on electronic identification and age verification and is the author of a technical standard entitled PAS 1296 Age Checking code of practice, published by the British Standards Institution on March 8, 2018, and is becoming a global Age Assurance standard. Rachel was the fifth person to join the start-up social networking platform, Bebo, and was instrumental in operationally building the business, which was acquired by AOL in 2008 for $850M.
Before joining Bebo, Rachel led a series of highly successful large-scale Pan-European projects, which involved managing teams located in 19 countries across Europe. She also chaired the group that developed the EU Safer social-networking principles. In 2000, Rachel set up the Cyberspace Research Unit, at the University of Central Lancashire and secured funding from the European Commission to establish and operate the first UK Internet Safety Centre (2000- 2006) funded by the EU Commission, which was based at the Cyberspace Research Unit.
Rachel’s PhD examined the implications of online paedophile activity for investigative strategies. The findings of her research have led her to be so passionate about leveraging technology to keep children safe online.
Dr. Rachel O’Connell
JUNE 23, 2022
Registration, Breakfast, & Networking
- Stephen Balkam, FOSI
- Markham Cho Erickson, Google
- Baroness Beeban Kidron, OBE, 5Rights Foundation
Plenary Panel - "Can We Regulate Online Safety?"
Recent online safety regulations and proposed policies in the UK and EU have changed how the online products and platforms we use every day operate and what they look like. This plenary panel discussed how Europe became a global leader in regulating online safety while the US has yet to pass any of its tech regulation proposals. With experts and leaders in industry, government, and civil society, this panel closely examined the significant similarities and drastic differences between these transatlantic policies and how to best improve online safety through regulation.
- Julie Dawson, Yoti (Moderator)
- Martin Drechsler, FSM
- Alexandra Evans, TikTok
- Fred Langford, Ofcom
- Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics
Networking & Refreshments Break
Plenary Panel - "Making Age Assurance a Reality"
As governments begin to require online platforms and services to offer age-appropriate content and experiences, a fundamentally important and complicated question arises: how do companies know how old their users are? Age assurance and verification are at the nexus of creating safe and appropriate online experiences for all users while attempting to minimize data collection and processing. This expert panel explored some of the top age assurance techniques as they discussed the best practices and tradeoffs of establishing safe, engaging, age-appropriate experiences for users.
- Stephen Balkam, FOSI (Moderator)
- Asha Allen, Center for Democracy & Technology, Europe
- Iain Corby, Age Verification Providers Association
- Almudena Lara, Google
- Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov, The LEGO Group
- Dr. Rachel O’Connell, TrustElevate