RE: “Cyber security: How safe are we?” (The New Times, November 1). This is a timely discussion. There are two vulnerable groups online that Rwanda could do well to put in measures to protect them.
First, children and teens. A good number of our children and teens are now online and the issue will only grow as devices become cheaper, homes become more connected and as we become more digital savvy population. The content in the internet is good when accessed by the kids/teens. However, there is also bad content and an even more insidious form of internet called the dark web where users can be able to surf anonymously and where all sorts of perverse, illegal behavior, including child pornography, takes place.
The ownership with protection of children lies squarely with National Children Commission/Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion to give it a lead with strong technical cooperation from Rwanda Information Society Authority/security organs of the land.
Having the strategy is good but there is need for awareness raising. Currently, the laptop in schools project is a high priority and this further underlines the need to raise awareness in schools with the Ministry of Education. Civil society participation and private firms complement the government efforts, but government has to take the lead.
Secondly, cyber bullying against women. The internet has brought traditional violence online which has raised new alarm on this issue. A good example is what is called revenge porn where an ex-boyfriend/husband releases intimate photos of the wife/girlfriend. This needs to be a criminal offence and women need to be empowered to use the law against such forms of violence.
Others include social media—for example on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—where a hateful group of students could attack others through hateful comments etc. Other examples include sending hate text messages which is quite common but unfortunately the public may not be aware this is a criminal offence.
This effort should be led by the Rwanda National Police/Gender Desk and the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.
It is worth noting that crimes that happen physically are now more likely to happen online due to weak legal frameworks and the global phenomena of the internet and the government needs to intervene as a matter of urgency.