Communication Authority: more collective action on Child Online Protection needed

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Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has stepped up advocacy on responsible use of the internet by calling for collective action by all stakeholders, as it seeks to make the internet safer for children.

CA made this call as it hosted an event to mark the annual Safer Internet Day, which is commemorated on 11th February each year globally to advocate for the responsible use of the internet.

The event, which was held in collaboration with the Child Online Protection (COP) partners, Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, Airtel Kenya, CODE-IP Trust, Jamii Telecoms Ltd, Kenya Scouts, African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI), the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), Google East Africa among others, sought to raise awareness about the opportunities presented by the internet as an enabler, but at the same time address the risks faced by young users.

The event was part of the Authority’s efforts towards the Child Online Protection awareness campaign and at the same time provides avenues of redress should one encounter cyber-crime.

Mercy Wanjau, Acting Director-General, CA said only collective action – by governments, the private sector, children’s organizations, academia, families, and children themselves – can help level the digital playing field and make the internet safer and more accessible for children.

“With the wide availability of the internet, children regularly access the cyberspace and are increasingly exposed to cybercrime. Unknown to many parents and guardians, children are constant victims of cyberbullying, online sexual harassment, with many even exposed to sexually explicit materials and online stalking, among other vices,” said Mrs. Wanjau.

She noted that the Authority, through the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team – Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC) has in the recent past brought down a number of social media accounts using images of children as their profile pictures to protect the affected children.

In order to curtail child pornography, the National KE-CIRT/CC has partnered with other agencies nationally and globally to ensure the circulation of such content is blocked and the sources traced for further prosecution.

This has been made possible by a team of experts working on a 24/7 schedule to monitor and respond to cases of abuse of children online and subsequent exploitation. The team provides digital forensic examination of exhibits to the National Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to ensure success on the prosecution of such offenders.

The latest statistics from the National KE-CIRT/CC shows that deeper investment in cyber-security is gradually paying off, with the number of attacks involving the remote hijacking of computers dipping by 75 percent in the three months to December. The number of DDoS/Botnet attacks — or remote hijacking of computers — dropped to 573,421 over the period from over 2.35 million in the previous quarter.

During the event that brought together 400 primary and secondary students, teachers and educators were asked to equip the pupils and students with digital literacy skills, and help them develop their critical thinking skills, in order for them to better navigate the online world.