NEWS - ARCHIVE

ESC: THERE IS A NEED FOR SPECIAL MEASURES TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN THE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT AS WELL AS A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

ESC recommends that Bulgaria should draw attention and implement specific and integrated policies as a priority for vulnerable populations such as children and elderly citizens who are exposed to different risks deriving from the processes of digitization. This is only one of the conclusions of the resolution adopted by ESC on "Challenges for Bulgarian citizens from the risks of the global digital environment".

In its resolution ESC points to a lot of data related to the use of the Internet in Bulgaria and emphasizes the fact that Internet access increases continuously. For example, in 2014 56.7% of the households in the country had access to the Internet, and only 4 years later their share reached 72.1%. Broadband Internet access has increased 4 times over the last 5 years. At the same time, ESC notes with alarm that the age at which children enter the Internet for the first time is dropping fast and 90% of them have already become Internet users before they reach 11 years of age. Therefore, ESC stresses that children are one of the most vulnerable groups in the fast lane of the digitization process and that serious measures are needed for all institutions, civil society and family to protect them.

Taking note of the positive trends of digitization, ESC highlights the risks and challenges associated with the lack of skills and knowledge of the use of digital technologies for the majority of citizens. Among the risks, ESC points out physical safety, especially for children, privacy, data theft, payment fraud, fake news, etc. In this context, ESC recommends conducting information campaigns among consumer and consumer organisations to educate citizens to identify risky shopping sites, safeguard and protect personal digital devices from fraud and theft of personal data.

ESC draws attention to the development of artificial intelligence, which is rapidly entering the economy and can replace humans in a number of customer services. This process, according to the resolution, also raises concerns among people whether they will retain control over the machine and over their lives. In this sense, ESC calls for the development and adoption of a national strategy related to artificial intelligence and in the context of the "Artificial Intelligence for Europe" strategy.

ESC proposes that Bulgaria should actively participate in the activities of the European Centre for Industrial, Technological and Research Competence in Cybersecurity and in the Network of National Coordination Centres. At the same time, ESC also turns to the EU, proposing that the national centres be funded by the EU under clear conditions of cooperation.

ESC draws attention to the need for much better knowledge of the rights, obligations and responsibility of citizens and businesses in dealing with digital content, and the need to develop digital literacy among citizens. In this context, ESC points to the potential of the new European Digital Europe Programme for the period 2021-2027 and calls on Bulgarian institutions to actively explain the opportunities for civil society organisations to participate in cybersecurity and deep digital skills.

The resolution also emphasizes the exclusive role of digital literacy education and digital literacy needed to modernize all stages of learning but also to prevent various risks endangering children in the online environment.

MISSION

“THE CIVIL PARLIAMENT” OF BULGARIA

is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government. It is the new and modern institution of the civil dialogue.

The ESC's mission is to promote civil society organisations access to and involvement in the process of decision-making on strategic economic and social issues.

The main goal of ESC's operation is to enable different representatives of organised civil society to feel free to state their views whereas unanimity on matters of common interest is encouraged. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities.

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