Together for a Better Internet; Safer Internet Day 2021

Safer Internet Day aims to create both a safe and a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively

By Constance Ndeleko

Every year on the 9 February the world marks Safer Internet Day. This year we are celebrating the 18th edition of Safer Interne Day with the theme “Together for a better internet”, the day calls upon all stakeholders to join forces together to make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young people.

Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for millions of people around the world to raise awareness of children and young people’s online safety and well-being. Today’s celebrations are slightly different especially with Covid-19 constraints however the pandemic has highly reinforced the importance of connectivity and technology to us and children on; education, health, communication and business.

Its negative impacts has forced conversations around digital literacy, digital divide, online abuse for adults and children as well as the need to ensure hat no one is left behind in regards to internet connectivity in Africa and around the world.

The internet is an amazing source of information for children but it is important that they are able to separate fact from fiction & challenge or question misinformation. As witnessed during this pandemic period, we all have greatly been defendant on it and children have been beneficiaries of learning online.

We need to reaffirm that decision makers are in a prime position to create a safer and better internet by providing a culture in which everyone – especially children and young people – can thrive online while remaining safe.

Tech companies are in direct position to shape the online services which we interact with on a daily basis. In doing so, they have the power to make a better and safer internet a concrete reality. They have an obligation to ensure that safety comes first through creation of policies and rules that will govern their platforms as well as protect their consumers.

Steve Chege, Safaricom states that, ‘we’ve partnered with Internet Watch Foundation to implement network wide blocking of child sexual abuse content and also joined hands with their partners in Telecommunication industry to ensure children are protected and equipped within cyber bullying. In November 2018 we signed the Online Child Protection industry charter to demonstrate our commitment to online child protection.’

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Children and young people deserve to grow up in a digital environment where they can create, engage, access opportunities and share freely and positively.

Parents and carers, play a crucial role in empowering and supporting children and young people to use digital technologies responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Indeed, parental influence, guidance and education has a significant and long-lasting impact on children’s safety and well-being in the online world.

Miss. Mercy Wanjau MD, Communication Authority; This day is a constant reminder that, while the internet continues to enrich our lives we must never forget the challenges we continue to face especially for vulnerable segments of our populations.

We have deployed the ICT services across the country leading to increase in the uptake and consumption of communication services by all in Kenya. This pandemic has created a new frontier or cyber criminals to thrive. Between September and December 2020 our computer incident response team detected a staggering 56million cyber cafes, a majority of them were a malware attacks at 46 million followed by web application attacks at 7.8 million and 2.2 million distributed denial of service threats.

We took the adequate measure to respond to these attacks. 1 in 3 internet users in the world today are below the age of 18 years and with the growing ability of technology and services, children and young people are facing increased safety risks when online. Locally, the tragedy of online child sexual exploitation remains a growing concern and is manifested in various cases we have seen. The CA and other partners has been collaborating in creating various resources in hope to create the safety of children online.

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Policy makers and politicians can promote a safer and better internet by putting in place the conditions for the emergence of a culture in which all stakeholders are encouraged and empowered to make the choices that will guarantee that children and young people have the best possible online experiences.

Everyone has an obligation to make a positive difference online. We can all promote the positive by being kind and respectful to others and by seeking out positive opportunities to create and connect. We can all respond to the negative by reporting inappropriate or illegal content and behavior online

This campaign targets to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to inspire everyone to play their part in creating a better internet.

The internet has fundamentally transformed our lives in ways we never imagined and our world is so small but our possibilities are so many. We are committed to facilitating the infrastructure of conditions for use of reversal and high speed internet connection across the country to ensure every Kenyan has internet.

We will continue to digitize our country. In order to contain cyber threats attacks we are committed to put in place roles. structures and policies to ensure that children can use the internet and other ICT services safely. In this regard, the government will develop a legislative framework that embraces child online protection and develop local public awareness information and content targeting various audiences including the children.

We shall develop and online innovative program to instill the right online value to children and foster development of technical tool and services in the market to minimize the risk of exposure to children. The government will prioritize equipping of law enforcement agencies and judicial officer to adequately handle child online protection related matters.

Abuse and exploitation of children is unacceptable and generally should not be protected even by free speech principle. In the internet further protection is need to shield children from predators who may contact them through deceptive, enticement online forums.

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Safer Internet Day 2021 has seen the launch of the interactive online child protection guide from industry player; Safaricom, Airtel, Jamii Telcom, Telkom Kenya and the GSMA

Safer Internet Day (SID) is organized by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission*, each February to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology, especially among children and young people.

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