The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched a campaign to protect children from being exposed to unsuitable online content.
Under the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative, the global telecommunication’s body seeks to establish an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children worldwide by providing guidance on safe online behaviour.
In a bid to extend the campaign to African nations, ITU is partnering with the African Child Online Protection Education and Awareness Centre (ACOPEA) to run a pilot exercise in training community activists and others in key safety messages and tools.
“The ACOPEA programmes and educational resources, in line with the objective of the COP initiative, will promote smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies,” reads part of a statement from ITU.
The project further aims to reach out to all stakeholders, to better understand the issues and mobilise support for sustainable pan-African Child Online Protection.
According to Rwanda’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, a cyber security mechanism that will protect beneficiaries, who are mainly minors, from accessing pornographic and other unsuitable web content is being installed.
OLPC, launched in 2008 to boost Rwanda’s goal of becoming a knowledge-based society, has so far covered 407 schools across the country with about 207,026 laptops distributed.
“We are installing a server in each school on which we have a security feature that filters content and ensures that children access safe and suitable content,” Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the OLPC Coordinator, told The New Times at the weekend.
He added that they have a tracking mechanism to ensure that the security feature works and follow up on the children’s ability to access suitable online material.
“At the moment we have installed servers in 200 schools and are targeting to cover the remaining 250 schools.”
Bakuramutsa further said that the limited internet connectivity is still protecting children from accessing inappropriate web content.
According to ITU, Facebook is supporting the pilot initiative financially, and the project will, among others, lead development of Africa-wide education and awareness activities on the importance of child online safety.