NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is seeking to develop a comprehensive framework that protects the safety of children on the Internet, following increasing dangers of prowling cyber criminals.
The commission has invited various stakeholders to help it come up with \’practical\’ tools that will enable it to minimise the risks to children.
"CCK is cognisant of the fact that cyber crime is a multi-sectoral issue and therefore requires the support and collective effort of different stakeholders with various competencies," said Director General Charles Njoroge during a \’Child Online Protection\’ workshop.
This approach, he pointed out, would complement the activities of the Consumer Awareness Division that is tasked with the responsibility of reaching out to all consumers of communications services including children.
Further, Mr Njoroge said it would be in line with the International Telecommunications Union\’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative that was launched in November 2010 with the aim of developing industry codes of conduct, establishing national hotlines, roadmaps and legislative tool kits and training of parents, teachers, guardians and educators.
According to a 2006 United Nations Children\’s Fund (UNICEF) report, cases of child abuse, neglect, exploitation and other form of mistreatments of children have been on the rise in the country.
Sadly, the same risks and vulnerabilities that children are exposed to in the physical world are also very real in the virtual world.
"Indeed, the dangers are more real in the cyber space because what children do online can easily escape the notice of parents and the society at large. Other dangers that may be considered self afflicted include online addiction, compulsive behaviour, online fraud, violence, pornography and exposure to unmonitored commercial services," regretted the DG.
He therefore underscored the importance of having such protectionism measures in place particularly since all indicators are that the country will continue to witness the dramatic and exponential growth in ICT.
This growth reflects the increased internet penetration and the use of smart phones.
Currently, the mobile handsets remain the main medium through which 90percent of the 10.2 million Internet users access the web.
Such smart phones are easily accessible to children who in most cases are more technology savvy and fast adopters of new technology.
The DG however opined that the first line of defence will be for parents to arm themselves with information such as which sites their children visit so that they can advise them on the use and possible dangers of the net.
Present during the forum themed \’Protecting Children in Cyberspace: Whose responsibility is it?\’ was Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo who proposed that the country needs to change its value system where children become more conscious of what is right and wrong.
"We need to build a very strong moral culture where children feel guilty when they do something that their parents do not approve off," the PS reckoned.
While blaming parents for adjudicating their role as guardians to house helps, Dr Ndemo said this need to changed, if the country is to make any headway in this direction.
This strong ethical culture, he observed would also help to complement legislations that have been put in place to protect consumers and children in particular.
At the same time he urged other bodies such as the Media Council of Kenya to play their role by closely monitoring the media and censor those that publish harmful or pornographic content.
"When the Media Council said they want to be left alone to self regulate, let them show us that they can live up to the ethics that the people of this country embrace," said the PS.
The country has been awash with pornographic materials that have forced the government to employ various mitigation measures such as the setting up of a programming code to outline what content that media houses can air or publish and at what time.
However, this has not been an easy task for the government which on one hand wants to enforce these measures to protect especially children from accessing adult content and at the same time uphold the freedom of the press.