30 July 2014

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Child protection players embark on national strategy development

Written by  Online Editor
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THIS week, we continue to talk about the Child Online Protection (COP) Workshop, which Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) organised in Livingstone in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Works Supply and Communications  and International Telecommunications Union (ITU), for key stakeholders with the objective of coming up with a National Child Online Strategy for the country.

The workshop brought together international COP experts from the ITU, Ikeep Safe, Internet Watch Foundation, Cyber Guardian as well as e World Wide Group (eWWG). On the local front, it attracted resource persons from UNICEF, the ministries of Education, Science Vocation Training and Early Eduction, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health. Other participants included those from the Zambia Police, Childline Zambia, University of Zambia, media participants, Samsung Zambia and members of youth groups.
The ITU being the UN agency responsible for information and communication technologies (ICTs) took a leading role in mapping through ITU IMPACT by taking the participants through its focus on COP and current existing partnerships on COP implementation. It came to light that COP policies and frameworks are already being implemented through ITU’s support in Brunei, Costa Rica, Nigeria and Ghana.
In Zambia, the ITU has committed to supporting creation of a safer cyber space through the provision of technical support which ensures incorporating input from the local team to take into account the local environment, successes and challenges in the development of a national strategy.
Ministry of Justice representative Andrew Nkunika who made a presentation on the general legal framework on cyber security in Zambia, elaborated to the participants the law currently existing for Zambia and its provisions for COP vis a vis cybercrimes, cyber bullying, identity theft.
From the private sector, Samsung Zambia chief executive officer James Chona highlighted what Samsung is doing in the area of COP, stating a number of applications that Samsung has which could be used by parents to monitor what kind of content their children have access to. Among the applications that he outlined include Samsung Knox and Kids Mode citing that  in Japan phones meant for kids have such applications locked and on firmware to avert possible uninstallation of the applications by children. Kids Mode allows parents to vary what their children can view thus offering flexibility.
The participation of service providers in addressing this very pertinent issue of COP was highlighted by Jerry Jones from GSM Association (GSMA), United Kingdom (UK) who made the presentation via Webinar – the mode of presentation which demonstrated to the participants the significant role ICTs play as an effective and reliable mode of communication regardless of distance.
GSMA is an association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting the standardising, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system.
The presentation was on the technical and procedural measures on COP, specifically looked at the role of the industry and relevance of public-private partnership.
The presenter focused on how the industry association (GSMA) has cooperated on COP issues in the UK. Emphasis was placed on how it works closely with the Internet Watch Foundation, which has all the human resource, both administrative and technical to ensure that bad content is suggested for removal through Union Resource Locater (URL) Blocking by internet service providers (ISPs). It was also mentioned that operators offer various branded solutions focusing on COP.
Parents’ role in monitoring and sensitising their children on the issue of online protection was brought to the attention by CyberGuardian chief executive officer Max Thomas, who also provided insight on the technical solutions which the company has for COP, shared that the solution and company acknowledges that parents need to be in control and smarter than their children for COP to be a success. However, he said that technology has to make it possible to put control at the ISP level.
Another presenter, Salma Abbassi, president of eWWG, elaborated on the importance of Zambia to develop a policy to tackle COP issues and establishing monitoring mechanisms.
The workshop also heard that, there is a framework called BEaPRO - Balance, Ethical use, a Privacy, Reputation & Relationships Online which looked at the need to balance time spent online by children and that deliberate measures may be taken by parents such as not allowing technology in the bedroom. This came from a presenter from IkeepSafe Nancy Gifford who also made a presentation via Webinar.
Similarly, issues affecting persons with disabilities in the area of COP were also brought to light through the representatives invited by ZICTA. Sign Language interpretation was available throughout to ensure active participation of all stakeholders invited.
After three-days deliberation, participants came up with recommendations for consideration in the development of the national COP strategy. These recommendations were two-fold – the technical aspect on one hand and the legal and regulatory aspect. The group assigned to look into the technical side recommended that;
 Filtering for the whole nation (at ISP level)  on COP threats was imperative and that customer focused solutions therefore, be included as an additional package  - virtual private networks (VPNs) and all media to be considered, even at upstream providers
 A portal for reporting any COP threats; Bad URLs and sites be implemented and promoted by all stakeholders in the ICT industry
 A pilot phase (Proof of Concept (PoC) with a COP solution be done and any possible solutions be tested to encourage URL blocking and content filtering based on age of the person surfing
 Further technical research, multi-sectoral engagements be encouraged
 Innovations be encouraged by the government and ZICTA on finding a solution for COP
 A clear deployment or compliance plan be provided by ZICTA with regards to internet cafes, operators and all upstream providers.
Some of the key recommendations made by the legal and regulatory group of the workshop were that;
 Legal framework  and guidelines on COP be strengthened
 A high-powered committee consisting Ministers who are COP stakeholders need be established
 Age-oriented programmes be embarked on for awareness purposes and that the Church becomes an active participant in awareness campaigns
 Mobile computer laboratories  – coaching clinics be undertaken as part of awareness
 Software developers be brought on board to develop safe software for children
 Increased media involvement in the dissemination of information on COP throughout the country.
It is evident that the contributions to the workshop by experts as well as the recommendations of workshop participants enhanced the knowledge base of the local multi-stakeholder Steering Committee assigned to develop the COP National Strategy. The committee comprising Government, ZICTA, industry players, consumers and the youth are in a hurry to complete their task and ensure that implementation of the strategy is expedited to address this important issue of cyber safety for children in Zambia.
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Last modified on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 08:06

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