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Our approach for consumer protection

Consumer protection is a multi-faceted topic at Deutsche Telekom. A core element is keeping our customers’ data safe and secure. Data protection and data security are therefore top priorities for us. 

The youngest members of society, in particular, need to be shielded from dangers online. That’s why protecting children and young people also plays a big part in what we do. 
Youth protection aspects are also taken into consideration in our product and service design. In Germany we involve our youth protection officers in all issues regarding planning and designing offers for young people. The youth protection officers can then recommend restrictions or changes. We have appointed a Child Safety Officer (CSO) at each of our national companies within the EU who is responsible for issues pertaining to the protection of minors. The CSO acts as a central contact for stakeholders from the community in the individual markets and plays a key internal role in coordinating issues related to youth protection. These measures increase the consistency and transparency of Deutsche Telekom’s involvement in protecting minors.

Above and beyond this, we strive to ensure our network does not affect people’s health. We actively respond to the latest scientific research on mobile communications and health, and provide our customers with transparent updates in this regard.

Our approach to digital youth protection

Our strategy to protect children and young people from harm when using digital media is based on three pillars.

  • We provide attractive, age-appropriate offers for children and give parents and guardians tools (filters) that they can use to restrict the access minors have to harmful content.
  • We participate in combating child abuse and its depiction to the extent that this is permitted within the national legal framework.
  • We promote skills to help people use the internet safely.

We also collaborate closely with prosecuting authorities and NGOs as well as other partners from business, politics, and society to ban online content that is harmful to children and young people. We have documented our commitment to protecting minors from unsuitable media content in Germany in relevant codes and introduced minimum standards. In 2007, we committed ourselves to fighting child pornography on the internet throughout the European Union. At a global level, we have been a member of the global association of mobile providers, GSMA, since 2008, which pursues the same objectives.

In order to better coordinate our activities within the Group, we also approved a list of general guidelines in 2013 for our activities to help protect minors from unsuitable media content and made these guidelines mandatory at international level, thereby setting new standards in our markets. In consideration of their particular cultural situation and business model, each international subsidiary in the European Union can further specify these measures, adopt additional measures, and also determine their own strategic focal points.

Cooperating with organizations for the protection of minors

Because protecting minors from unsuitable media content poses a challenge that affects many industries, we cooperate with different organizations for the protection of minors and participate in coalitions that coordinate the involvement of companies and organizations from the internet and media sector.

  • For example, we are a member of the “Alliance to better protect minors online”, which has set out to make the internet a safer place for kids.
  • We have also taken a leading role in the “ICT img Coalition for Children Online.” In this coalition, we pursue a comprehensive cross-industry approach based on six principles that expressly includes helping young people learn media skills.

In 2013, as part of both coalitions, we announced plans to implement an EU-wide set of measures based on the principles of the ICT Coalition. We provide regular and transparent updates regarding implementation of the set of measures adopted in 2013; our most recent report was in 2019. The ICT Coalition published an annual report in 2014 on the implementation of corresponding measures at all of the companies represented in the ICT coalition. The report, which was written by an independent expert from the Dublin Institute of Technology, comes to the conclusion that Deutsche Telekom’s approach to implementing the ICT Coalition's principles is exemplary.

Our approach for secure mobile communication

Our contribution to the SDGs

We want to make our mobile communications infrastructure and our products, as well as the processes on which they are based, as resource-efficient, secure, and safe for health as possible. In Germany these activities are based in particular on voluntary commitments by mobile communications providers and an agreement with local authorities’ associations. Compliance with these voluntary commitments is reviewed every two years by external experts. In 2018 we once again submitted a current annual mobile communications expert report, coordinated by Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (German Institute for Urban Studies), to the German Federal Government. According to the report, mobile communications expansion is progressing for the most part free of conflict. 95 percent of the municipalities surveyed said that they had had little or no controversial decision-making cases. The report was published by the German Federal Environment Ministry.

Our Group-wide EMF img Policy, which we adopted in 2004, plays a pivotal role. The policy specifies standardized minimum requirements in the area of mobile communications and health, requirements that by far exceed those set forth by national laws. Our policy provides our national companies with a mandatory framework that makes sure that the topic of mobile communications and health is addressed in a consistent, responsible way throughout the Group. All of our national companies have officially accepted the EMF Policy and implemented most of the required measures.

Our EMF Policy stipulates the following principles and measures:

EMF Policy

Transparency
Information
Participation
Promoting science & partnerships
Transparency

We place importance on openly discussing issues involved in mobile communications. We make all relevant information regarding our mobile communications equipment in Germany accessible to the public, e.g., on the EMF database operated by the German Federal Network Agency.

Information

We provide consumer information that is easy to understand and pursue a fact-based, sound information policy. On our Group website we provide the latest information to those interested. We also provide our customers with information on the SAR levels of their devices. In addition, customers can get information on SAR levels at many of our shops, via our free environmental hotline, or via email.

Participation

We rely on close collaboration and constructive dialog with all those involved, including communities, when it comes to network expansion. Our goal is to find amicable solutions and negotiate acceptable compromises, which can only be achieved by responding fairly to critical arguments and being ready to learn from mistakes.

Promoting science & partnerships

Our guidelines call for promoting targeted research, scientific excellence, transparency, objectivity, and intelligibility.

For more information, please click on the segments

We conduct ongoing reviews of compliance with our EMF Policy. The findings are used to improve individual aspects and develop solutions in different working groups such as our EMF Core Team and the EMF Technical Working Group.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

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Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Mobile communications and health (EMF)

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are a prevalent element in our connected world, even if we are not able to perceive them directly. Their effects on our health remain a topic of discussion. It is very important to make sure that the EMFs employed do not present a problem for people or the environment when we use them in mobile communications.

The effects of electromagnetic fields img have been thoroughly researched over past decades in numerous scientific studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzes the findings of scientific research and most recently made a statement regarding the results in October 2014. In its statement, the World Health Organization concludes that the current threshold values for electromagnetic fields ensure that mobile communications technology can be used safely but that further research is required.

Deutsche Telekom has made a commitment to actively address scientific research on mobile communications and health. We provide detailed information on the Group website on the latest technology and scientific risk assessments published by expert committees. In 2019, for instance, we extended our  „Fakten zu Mobilfunk und Gesundheit” (“Facts about mobile communications and health”) brochure to include a 5G factsheet and a new flyer containing answers to the 14 most important questions regarding mobile communications and health.

Together with Telefónica Deutschland, we also support the information platform www.informationszentrum-mobilfunk.de. This platform provides expert and evidence-based information on mobile communications topics subject to controversial public debate: about health, research, technology, benefits, and applications. In 2019, Informationszentrum published, among other things, a new brochure on 5G and interviews with scientific experts on these topics.

More information regarding this topic can be found in CR-facts.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Do you have questions on this topic?
Ask our expert:

Cornelia Szyszkowitz