Child online protection is a big problem – Nat. Cyber Sec. Advisor … takes centre stage at NCSAM 2020

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National Cyber Security Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako

The National Cyber Security Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, has said that child online protection in the country continues to be a big problem as awareness creation on the development is weak. According to him, many children are exposed to various harmful cyber practices which are detrimental to their growth.

“UNICEF has done a study and one out of three people have experienced one form of online sexual exploitation or one form of online safety issue in Ghana. It is not only about sexual content but bullying, contact with predators on the internet and sometimes the images that the children see,” Dr. Antwi-Boasiako told the B&FT at the launch of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2020 and Child Online Protection (COP) reporting portal.

As a result, he noted that child online protection would be given centre stage at this year’s NCSAM 2020 as the advent of COVID-19 has pushed many children to depend on electronic devices for learning and in the process opening themselves up to many cyber threats.

The COP reporting portal will be used to receive reports of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM) available on the internet. This can enable reporting of cases to the appropriate organizations such as Facebook, to ensure that the images are taken down.

The portal, which will complement the Cybercrime/Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) will provide a safe platform for people to report suspected child sexual abuse materials. “At that age children are not psychologically matured to have certain exposure so we call this online harmful content and I think almost every child one way or the other is at risk.

The awareness creation level is quite weak. Parents, guardians, teachers and experts do not know it to even extend what we know to help our children to stay safe online. It is a big problem and the children are the most vulnerable within the ecosystem. That is why we have particularly focused on them within this year. UNICEF has been supportive of that collaboration and it has really yielded dividends,” Dr. Antwi-Boasiako added.

Delivering a speech on behalf of the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Deputy Minister for Communications Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban said the government is putting in more efforts to accelerate the passage of the needed laws not only to safeguard online security but promote socio economic growth.

“My ministry, through the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also revised the National Child Online Protection framework which has enhanced our preventive and reactive interventions in addressing child online safety issues.

To further improve the regulatory regime for cybersecurity, my Ministry has submitted a draft Cybersecurity Bill to Cabinet for consideration. Parliament is expected to consider this Bill before the end of the year,” he said, adding that the strides being made in the cyber security space has received some global attention.

“Our work on cybersecurity at the domestic level has won admiration and commendation from the international community. The Council of Europe has recognized Ghana as the hub for cybercrime capacity building in the English-speaking ECOWAS region. The World Bank has praised Ghana’s formative developments in cybersecurity and has provided support to consolidate our modest gains.

The World Economic Forum has identified Ghana for public-private sector partnership on cybersecurity.  In February 2020, Ghana hosted the 8th Annual Freedom Online Conference which brought together over 300 participants from 60 countries across the globe to engage in discussions around cybersecurity and digital rights,” the minister intimated.

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