ZICTA Unveils Child Online Protection Plan

According to the 2013 Internet Security Threat Report from International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) reveals that by the end of last year, some 2.7 billion people would be using the Internet, with 2.1 billion active mobile-broadband subscriptions.

The report further states that more than 550 million adults worldwide experienced some form of cybercrime last year, and almost half of teenagers aged 13 to 17 experienced some sort of cyberbullying. There is a definite need to address these alarming trends that children are exposed to when online.

Technology or simply the internet has reduced the world to an extent where people seem to be living under one roof. The internet is the world’s biggest library shelving almost all sorts of stuff — both good and bad.

And because this big online library (internet) is accessed by everyone including children, who sometimes risk their lives by straying to restricted sites of the internet, there must be a way of safeguarding them.

As cyber presence grows and so many of the world’s people embrace the evident aantages that information and communication technologies bring, there is a responsibility that everyone needs to embrace to make cyberspace a safe, healthy and productive environment – especially for children and youth.

While the virtual world offers unlimited opportunities in many respects, it is also the hunting ground for cybercriminals, pedophiles and other abuses.

Recognising that a determined global effort would be required to ensure that the cyberworld becomes a safe place for young people to work, learn and play, Zambia in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union recently hosted a workshop to develop a national strategy framework on Child Online Protection (COP) in the country.

The three – day programme which was organised by Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with international COP experts, regional partners as well as local participants took place at Zambezi Sun Hotel in Livingstone.

The workshop was designed to facilitate capacity building and awareness aimed at empowering experts and policy makers from around Zambia.

From day one of the workshop, participants and COP experts thrashed out a landscape of activities on protection of children online in Zambia so as to develop a practical and effective framework for protection of children online that can be implemented, using the five Pillars of COP as a yardstick.

In November 2008, the ITU launched the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative to bring together partners from all sectors of the global community to ensure a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere.

The COP initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the international community with the aim of creating a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere.

While there are many established projects and programmes in developed countries to protect children online, there are very few in the developing world. COP’s key objectives are to:

identify key risks and vulnerabilities to children in cyberspace

create awareness of the issues

developromote practical tools to minimise risk

share knowledge and experience

facilitate international partnerships

The COP in Zambia aims to tackle cyber security holistically, addressing legal, technical, organisational and procedural issues as well as capacity building and international cooperation.

Local participants in the ZICTA organised workshop included amongst others, Government departments responsible for children’s welfare, ICT service providers, non-governmental organisations, relevant regulatory bodies and Zambia’s youth representatives to last year’s ITU Youth Summit held in Costa Rica.

Members of local ICT clubs were also present. ZICTA has over the last two years, established over 100 ICT clubs in schools countrywide which provide a platform to disseminate information on Child online protection to the youth.

To make the workshop successful and fruitful, ZICTA went a step further by engaging people who have had the experience and expertise in tackling the issue of COP in their countries and other nations all in the interest of protecting children online.

The experts who came to Zambia’s tourist town Livingstone were Max Thomas the Chief Executive Officer of The Cyber Guardian (TCG) from Australia, Kristof Claesen, Press and Public Affairs Manager at Internet Watch Foundation in the United Kingdom.

Amelia Gowa, Policy analyst with IMPACT in Malaysia, Doctor Salma Abbassi of the founder of thee-worldwide (Ewwg) in the United Arab Emirates and Carla Licciardello Policy Analyst at the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva also shared their ideas at the workshop.

The other COP experts who conducted their presentations remotely through Skype were Jenny Jones GSMA, Bindu Sharma of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and Nancy Gifford Senior director, Law amp Policy The Internet Keep Safe Coalition of the iKeep Safe.

The experts highlighted on the international cooperation and its role on COP assessment of existing international partnerships and initiatives

Technical and procedural measures on COP the role of the industry and relevance of public-private partnership

Organisational structures on COP Establishment of national COP centre the importance of a hotline

Capacity building for COP Elements of effective capacity building, mapping and analysis the case of Zambia

And speaking on behalf of the ZICTA Board chairperson Emmanuel Musonda, ZICTA director general Margaret Mudenda thanked partners like IMPACT and ITU for their efforts to protect children from internet abuses such as pornography, sexual abuse and child trafficking.

“We are aware that even children below the age of 10 use the internet and we need to protect them from online abuses and harm,” Mr Musonda said.

Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje said during the workshop that Government would find ways and means of protecting its younger population from the dark side of the internet.

“We would engage mobile and internet service providers to encourage development of safety features and tools appropriate for the younger internet users,” Mr Sipanje said.

On the last day of the workshop, participants discussed the framework recommendations and the global trend landscape that includes youth intervention and aocacy.

The workshop proved to be vital to Zambia as Children need to be protected. With the help of the Government’s support, Police, the general public, online users and other partners ZICTA will achieve the goal of COP.

One of the participants, Kalenga Danisius, a teacher from Chibombo Secondary School said the workshop proved to be beneficial as he came to discover a lot from presentations made.

“ZICTA should make sure this programme continues for the benefit of our children in society, technology is swiftly moving and we have to

move in tandem with it,” Mr Kalenga said.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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