The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has unveiled a three-month awareness campaign to protect children and their digital footprint, as it steps up the advocacy on responsible use of the internet.
The Child Online Protection (COP) Phase II focuses on children and youth as the primary messengers and advocates to help promote awareness of benefits and vulnerabilities in cyberspace amongst their peers.
Digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, but also to a host of risks including access to harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, cyberbullying, and misuse of their private information.
Speaking during the launch, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said the safety of children in the online space has been particularly critical during the COVID-19 crisis and there is a need for awareness creation and provision of information to children, parents, teachers, and service providers in order to make the Internet a safer place for all children.
“This period has brought to light the magnitude of the need to foster a safe environment across all platforms that our children access,” the First Lady said. “The many possibilities that the Internet avails us, are a pointer that corresponding efforts are required to ensure the optimal exploitation of the resource by all of us, and particularly children,” she added.
Chief Justice Martha Koome said the judiciary is alive to the new realities brought about by crimes committed against children in cyberspace, adding it will ensure strict application of the law to safeguard children in such cases.
‘‘We will work with all actors in the Justice sector under the auspices of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to ensure robust enforcement of the laws to ensure the protection of children against abuse perpetrated online platforms,’’ she said.
ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Mr.Joe Mucheru said his Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Communications Authority of Kenya, and private sector partners are exploring ways of deploying technology to facilitate teaching and learning for pupils while at home. “The Authority in collaboration with stakeholders has proposed a home-schooling policy to guide learners on how to use devices outside the schools,” Mucheru said.
CA Chairman Sen. Kembi Gitura noted that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the high uptake and usage of the internet to lodge attacks, citing the reported online crime that rose by 37.8 per cent to 38.7 million in the quarter ending June 2021. A majority of these threats were malware attacks, recording the highest jump of 6.9 per cent to stand at 23 million.
“Other than coming up with innovative ways to deal with cybercrime, we need to join hands in creating awareness on the safe use of internet facilities. We need to empower our children, teachers, and parents with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively guide children on the use of internet services,” Mr. Gitura said.
Mercy Wanjau, the acting CA Director-General said the Authority in partnership with the Ministry of Education will review the Schools Safety Manuals to incorporate child online protection and encourage schools to develop and implement mechanisms that would facilitate a safer online experience for learners. “We hope to work with all stakeholders concerned in order to achieve these objectives and create a better space for our children,” Mrs. Wanjau said.
The COP was launched in 2015 by the Authority as a platform for awareness creation on the safety of children online. The first phase targeted parents, teachers, and other minders of children.
The Authority is working with various partners, locally and internationally, in the COP program.