The protection of minors against harmful content in the converging media environment has been a matter of regulatory concern for quite a considerable period. The risk of children stumbling upon potentially harmful material has increased proportionally to the speed of technological developments, such as the availability of broadband access to the Internet. Due to the decentralised, border-crossing and permanently available nature of the new information and communication networks, increasing attention has been brought to the intricacies of efficiently protecting minors against harmful information and images, which were not as easily accessible before. Thus far, no conclusive legal answer or regulatory approach has been identified to tackle the challenge that is posed by this new media environment in an efficient way. Different regulatory approaches and strategies are being considered: legislative proposals, co-regulatory instruments, self-regulatory mechanisms and technological solutions all belong to the spectrum of possible policy choices. The analysis of four regulatory initiatives - the US Communications Decency Act and Child Online Protection Act, the UK mobile operators' code of conduct with respect to harmful mobile content, the Australian approach to Internet content co-regulation and the Belgian initiative to use the e-ID to protect children in chatrooms - indicates that the use of co-regulatory schemes, preferably with the aid of technical tools, might be the most desirable option at the moment. © 2007.
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