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.
Children and young people, 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.
We take youth protection aspects into consideration in our product and service design. When we develop services that are relevant in terms of youth protection in Germany, we consult our youth protection officer for suggestions of 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 respective country and plays a key internal role in coordinating issues related to youth protection. We thereby strengthen Deutsche Telekom’s lasting and transparent commitment to protecting minors.
Above and beyond this, we strive to ensure the safety of our network and mobile devices: We respond to the latest scientific research on mobile communications and health, and provide our customers with transparent updates in this regard.
We want to protect children and young people when using digital media. We pursue a three-pillar strategy to do this:
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 anchored 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. Dasselbe Ziel verfolgt auf globaler Ebene der Verband der Mobilfunk-Anbieter GSMA, dem wir seit 2008 angehören.
To better coordinate our activities within the Group, we have been following binding general guidelines since 2013 for our activities to help protect minors from unsuitable media content, 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 and adopt additional measures to determine their own strategic focal points.
Cooperation with organizations for the protection of minors
Protecting minors from unsuitable media content poses a challenge that affects many industries. We therefore work together 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.
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 transparent and regular information on its implementation, most recently in 2019 in our ICT Coalition report. The ICT Coalition had first published an annual report in 2014 on the implementation of corresponding measures at all of the companies represented in the ICT coalition. This report was written by an independent expert from the Dublin Institute of Technology, and comes to the conclusion that Deutsche Telekom’s approach to implementing the ICT Coalition’s principles is exemplary.
Online Park – A social experience
During the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is using the internet more – including children. In a social experiment, Telekom Romania wanted to raise parental awareness about the risks their children are exposed to: The national company brought online dangers into the real world with the “Online Park”. Daunting online threats were recreated in an amusement park in Bucharest in such a way that they became tangible and visible – as a supposed balloon stand or hall of mirrors, for instance. These “attractions” allowed parents to see what their children can be confronted with online and how they would react to cyberbullying, criminals in disguise (e.g., digital data predators) or inappropriate content.
In addition to this experiment, Deutsche Telekom Romania has again added the “Safe Kids Premium” application from security software manufacturer Kaspersky to its selection: To make the online world safer for children and help parents protect them, and to ensure that parents are more aware of what their kids are doing online.Reporting against standards
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 2020, we once again submitted a current annual mobile communications expert report to the German Federal Government, which was coordinated by Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (German Institute for Urban Studies) and eventually published by the Federal Ministry of the Environment. According to the report, mobile communications expansion is progressing for the most part free of conflict. The report surveyed municipalities throughout Germany, 92 percent of which said they had little or no controversial decision-making cases.
In June 2020, together with the leading municipal associations and other German network operators, we revised and updated the existing agreement on the exchange of information for the expansion of mobile networks that has been in place since 2001. Its goal is to ensure that municipalities are involved in establishing the 5G networks and in a swift and conflict-free expansion of the network infrastructure. In addition, the four network operators added a regulation for the expansion of small cells to the 2020 agreement with the municipal associations. Network operators had already agreed to this in February 2020 in their voluntary commitment to the German government.
Policy on Electromagnetic Fields
The policy on electromagnetic fields (EMF ) in force throughout the Group since 2004 plays a primary role: Our EMF Policy contains uniform minimum requirements for mobile communications and health that go far beyond the national legal requirements. 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:
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.
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 online on the SAR levels of their mobile devices. Additional details are also available in the shops and through our free environmental hotline.
We rely on close collaboration and constructive dialog with all those involved, including municipalities, 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.
Our guidelines call for promoting targeted research, scientific excellence, transparency, objectivity, and intelligibility.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are a prevalent part of our connected world, even if we are not able to perceive them directly. Their effects on our health remain a topic of discussion. Deutsche Telekom, like all providers, must ensure that the statutory threshold values are observed in mobile communications. In Germany, the threshold values are set by the Federal Government and are based on the recommendations of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The effects of EMFs have been thoroughly researched over the 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 2014. In its statement, it concludes that the current threshold values for EMFs ensure that mobile communications technology can be used safely but that further research is required. In 2020, after evaluating current scientific research, the ICNIRP once again confirmed the protection concept for EMFs, as they occur in mobile communications. According to ICNIRP, the threshold values ensure comprehensive protection for people and the environment. This also applies to frequency ranges used by 5G, because, like earlier network types, 5G requires high security standards. Safe operation of mobile communications technology in Germany is therefore ensured.
Deutsche Telekom has made a commitment to actively address scientific research on mobile communications and health. We provide detailed information on our Group website on the latest technology and scientific risk assessments published by expert committees. In 2020, for instance, we updated our „Fakten zu Mobilfunk und Gesundheit” (“Facts about mobile communications and health”) brochure and our flyer, which contains answers to the 14 most important questions regarding mobile communications and health. In addition, we published explanatory videos in the reporting year – on issues such as threshold values, health protection, and on our cooperation with municipalities when planning new sites.
Together with the three other 5G licensees - Telefónica Germany, Vodafone, and 1&1 Drillisch - we provide support for Informationszentrum Mobilfunk (mobile communications information center). The portal provides scientific facts about basic issues relating to mobile communications, some of which are subject to controversial public debate – health and safety, technology and network build-out, environment and sustainability, and politics and legal questions. In 2020 the information center joined forces with the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB) and published two new brochures on „5G“ and „Information and dialog on network build-out“.
Further information on this subject can be found under “CR facts”.