EU internet guidelines must not block free access to Childline

We're calling for a zero-rating so that young people can get help when they need it


We're calling on European regulators to ensure that new EU guidelines don't stop communications providers from giving young people in distress completely free online access to the new Childline website.

Efforts to provide free online access to Childline have been led by O2, who already zero-rate access to our services for their customers. We're currently also in talks with Vodafone, EE, BT, TalkTalk, Three, SKY and Virgin about them delivering 'zero-rating' for the website.

This would mean young people not having to use their data allowance on their mobile devices or requiring credit on their mobile phone to access the information and advice they may desperately need, mirroring the free and confidential Childline telephone service that's been available to young people since the 1980s.

A place for children

We worked with children and young people to refresh the Childline brand and create a new website. By being easier to access on mobile and tablet devices, Childline is now more relevant and appropriate to those who use the service.

The website also allows users to create a ‘mood journal’ so they can record, in confidence, how they feel each day and counsellors can respond if they have any concerns.

The new website reflects the big changes in the way Childline is used since it launched 30 years ago, when 100% of contact from vulnerable children came via the telephone.

A change to current guidelines

Under existing draft EU guidelines, communication providers can give free access to websites as long as the person has an available data allowance on their mobile device.

However, they are not allowed to zero-rate a specific website if the user has met their data cap and all other applications are blocked, something that we're keen to change ahead of the new EU guidelines being finalised at the end of August.

O2 has also been working in partnership with us for the past year to provide parents with the skills and support to keep children safe online.

"To continue our commitment to provide free and private contact for young people in need it is now vital that the communications industry as a whole is not prevented by EU guidelines in ‘zero rating’ the new Childline website."
Peter Wanless / NSPCC Chief Executive

"Our promise to young people is summed up by the new strapline, ‘online, on the phone, anytime’, which reaffirms that Childline is here for them, however they want to get in touch, whenever they want to talk."
Peter Wanless / NSPCC Chief Executive