The Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education, Honourable Patricia Kaliati, has asked for more focus and effort in promoting child online security.
She was speaking when she opened a three-day international human capacity building workshop for Africa on child online protection by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in collaboration with MACRA at the Bingu Convention Centre in Lilongwe under the theme: “Ensuring child online safety (COS) in a digital world: building human capacity in Child Online safety (COS) policy formulation and implementation”.
The Minister said the Government was aware that much as the world celebrates the ability of children’s access to new technologies, there is the increasing threat of ICT-related child abuse and exploitation.
“This is not only about more laws or more regulation. It’s about harnessing the power of innovation. It’s about working together with the best brains in the technology industry and pioneering new ways of making the Internet safer for children,” she said.
Hon. Kaliati said the issue of ensuring child online security transcended legal frameworks but included strong working partnership between Governments, regulators, operators and consumers.
“The choice between freedom and control is however not a simple one. It’s about a new kind of partnership between technology companies and government. A partnership that protects but also empowers,” she said.
The Minister called for more awareness on Child Online Protection at regional and international levels and identification of strategies and policies that can help Malawi and the world build a harmonized framework related to child online safety.
ITU Area Representative, Ms Chali Tumelo, told delegates that the fast development of ICT connectivity and access in the world and earlier age exposure to new technologies and devices was a reminder of the necessity to take global and national measures to create a friendly and secure environment for the children and youth.
“Digital inclusion of children is more and more part of a global agenda to empower children and youth, by increasing their digital skills, knowledge and creativity through the instructive and responsibly use of ICT and related services,” she said.
Ms Tumelo said it was therefore critical for parents, educators, care givers, government and other stakeholders to have a harmonized approach to ensure children and youth online safety and security while taking advantage of all opportunities in educational and social-economic development through the use of ICT.
Speaking on behalf of the host regulatory authority, MACRA, Board Chairperson Ms. Mervis Mangulenje said the regulator would do everything in its power to enable the country to deal with the challenges that threaten the achievement of universal access to ICTs.
“MACRA believes that child online abuse can be dealt with by an equally potent force in the shape of professionals who are well equipped with the best skills to curb these online crimes,” she said.
The workshop has drawn more than a hundred local and international delegates and will include a special session with children, parents and teachers on children and technology.