Nigeria to provide safe use of internet for children

Na’ankwat Dariem, Abuja

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The Nigerian government is set to develop a National Child Online Protection document in line with evolving global technology and practices in the cyber space.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta disclosed this at the International Telecommunications Union-ITU and Digital Bridge Institute-DBI,3 day Joint workshop on Child Online Protection in Abuja, Nigeria.

This development is to create awareness and device strategic measures for a safer internet for children and youth in Nigeria.

The document will comprise of a Policy, Strategy and Action Plan with particular emphasis on the Information and Communication Technology ICT industry.

Danbatta said the conference will go a long way in ensuring the security of content that children generally access online.

“So the idea behind this particular conference taking place is to look for all possibilities and lawful ways that we can deploy in order to protect the child from harmful online content and there no better people to do this than the experts we have just assembled here. They will study existing content and recommend measures that we will put out harmful content that will not enhance the upbringing of our children has no place anywhere online this country.”

Prof. Danbatta noted that even thou the internet has its advantages by providing many opportunities for children, it also exposes them to potentially negative contents. “It is worthy to note that Children and Youth are most active participants online via social media and are therefore potential victims of improperly disseminated information and negative content.)With this in mind, it is imperative to create and implement strategic measures for a safer internet especially for the children.”He said

The EVC stated that Commission would also come up with an awareness project which is aimed at sensitizing the Nigerian Child on the safe use of the internet. The campaign seeks to amongst other things:

Provide an online safe haven where the Nigerian Child can competitively engage one another in productive and guided interactions; Enable the provision of a safe and secured cyber space for Nigerian digital Citizens, along with promoting positive use and experience from  the internet for children and young people; Provide regional advocacy and awareness for Nigerian Child Online and protection Policy and recommend safety measures.

This project would also ‘Provide regional awareness incorporating local languages and cultural normsto share knowledge and experience while facilitating international strategic partnerships to define and implement concrete initiatives and increase the understanding of child online safety among government, industry, educators and civil Society organizations. Danbatta explained
He explained that as a follow up to NCC’s consultative Fora to adopt the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) guidelines on Child Online Protection the Commission developed a draft Nigerian Child online Protection Policy (NCOPP).

The EVC added that “the Commission is finalising the Internet Industry Code of Practice which will help to define the rights and obligations of Internet Access Service Providers with regard to the issues of Outlining the obligations of Internet Access Service Providers in the handling of offensive and potentially harmful content, laying emphasis on the protection of minors and vulnerable audiences online.”

The General Manager, Planning and Customer Management, MTN, Odunayo Sanya, a partner in organising the workshop, emphasise the necessity to balance the benefits of the Internet with pitfalls.

Ms. Sanya urged parents, regulators, service providers and government to work earnestly and collaboratively to achieve that.

“Understanding how to traverse the potential pitfalls online and shield our children from cyber-crime are critical skills today, much less for the future workforce. To be successful in securing future success, government, regulators, service providers, and parent teachers associations need to work together to create the much-needed controls, awareness, and education for the protection of our children online,” She said.

She added the workshop aligns with MTN Nigeria’s clear corporate development focus especially in the area of promotion of safe online space for children and the long-term interest in the success of Nigeria’s next generation of tech and business leaders.

A Representative of the CeCe Yara Foundation  set up for the protection of children in the Northern Nigeria, Ms. Grace Ketefe, noted  “With what NCC and its partners are doing, it is possible for Nigeria to save, at least, 16 million Nigerians children from being defiled or otherwise abused offline and in the cyber space.”She said