O2, through its parent company Telefónica, has signed up to the EU-wide common framework to promote safer mobile phone use by teenagers and children, unveiled today in Brussels. It also strengthened its partnership with Childnet International, the children’s internet charity. Peter Erskine, chief executive and chairman of Telefónica O2 Europe, said: “Today’s initiatives help address the growing need to cast the safety net of co-operation between operators, content providers, regulators, governments and child protection organisations across a greater geographical area. “The youth market in Europe now accounts for more than 100 million mobile phones as parents want to be able to keep in touch with their children. In tandem, adult content is becoming more widespread and accessible on internet-enabled phones; and cross-border crime, including grooming, is more prevalent. Today, we are stepping up our programme of advice and guidance for children, parents and guardians addressing these hazards in order to help stamp out access to inappropriate content, bullying and worst of all being contacted by paedophiles.” The new European Union framework supports work already undertaken by O2 in this area following the industry-wide code of practice signed by UK-based mobile network operators in early 2004, later replicated in Ireland and Germany, as well as its joint activities with parent company, Telefónica. O2 was the first mobile network operator to join the Internet Watch foundation and in 2006 was the first mobile network operator to sign up to the UK Media Literacy Charter, which promotes the development of skills people require to get the most out of modern media content. Today, O2’s UK web-site home page is profiling Safer Internet Day and promoting the work of its new partner in online child protection, Childnet International, which has produced a checklist of important questions for parents to ask a mobile operator when purchasing a mobile phone. Last year, Childnet helped train more than 100 O2 employees to become child protection champions, internal experts that are helping to make sure that parents receive real, practical, useful and consistent advice from O2 regarding children’s use of mobiles. In 2007, O2 will be working with Childnet to introduce a series of measures to help ensure that expert advice is readily available for parents who choose to buy their children a mobile phone.

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