Experts meet over Child Online Protection Policy

Cyber Security Experts from ten African countries are meeting in Accra to formulate an African Child Online Protection (COP) policy for the continent.

The policy would, among other issues, involve strategies and measures to protect children from sex exploitation and abuse on the internet.

The three-day programme is being attended by more than 30 participants from Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.

It formed part of activities to mark this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness month which has the theme “Demonstrating Ghana’s Cyber Security Readiness.”

The COP forum is being organised by the Ministry of Communications, National Cyber Security Centre and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the COP had become necessary to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet.

She stated that the forum would create opportunity for each country to learn and share best practices in relation to policies and laws being put in place to protect children in relationship to online.

She said the digital age was fast evolving and its pervasive nature had infused and impacted every fabric of society, stressing the benefit of connectivity to the internet were immense and chief among them being the opportunity for education and cognitive development.

“Let’s face it.  Our children are increasingly more tech savvy than we are, however, many are oblivious of the dangers in lurking in cyberspace and in their quest to explore and learn new things may unwittingly fall victim. 

Unguided, our children, our future, stand a great risk of falling prey to the ills that plague the digital economy as the use of Information Communication Technology  can be a double edged sword,” she stated.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stressed that protecting children online must be given the same attention and priority as their physical protection, indicating that it was important to guide children to utilise digital tools in a manner that eliminated the inherent dangers therein.

The National Cyber Security Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako said the programme indicated Ghana’s commitment to work with international partners to strengthen child online protection measures at a time that children were increasingly connecting to the internet and commended the ITU in that direction.

He said Ghana’s Child Online Protection framework which was developed in 2015 was entirely based on the ITU COP model, saying subsequently, the ITU’s model had provided the foundation for the development of other best practices and models.

“The National Cyber Security Centre, has implemented a number of COP interventions with our strategic partners, especially UNICEF, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Education, Dr Antwi-Boasiako, said.

By Kingsley Asare

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