Malawi puts more focus on protecting children on the Internet

Malawi is putting more emphasis on protecting children on the Internet through the development of a national Child Online Protection (COP) framework. This was announced on 6 November 2017.

The development of Malawi's COP framework is a 3-way partnership between government, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Malawi Child Online Protection
Delegates at the 3-day international human capacity building workshop for Afrika on child online protection by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in collaboration with MACRA at the Bingu Convention Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi.

β€œThis 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,” said Patricia Kaliati, Malawi's Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education.

Kaliatiwas speaking when she opened a 3-day international human capacity building workshop for Afrika on child online protection by the ITU in collaboration with MACRA at the Bingu Convention Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. The theme of the workshop is "Ensuring child online safety (COS) in a digital world: building human capacity in Child Online safety (COS) policy formulation and implementation.”

"Through the development of the COP framework in Malawi, we want to see the country harness the maximum benefits offered by ICT, particularly through the safe and productive use of the Internet by its children,” said Anne Rita Ssemboga, Regional Programme Officer at the ITU.

The National Statistical Office (NSO) and MACRA ram a National ICT Access and Usage survey in 2014 which revealed that Malawi's Internet penetration in is sitting at 17,6%. Of that, 5% is Internet users who are between the ages of 0-24 years, highlighting the importance of why it is necessary to ensure the Internet is safe for children to navigate. On the other hand, it has also been revealed that Malawi has approximately 720,000 Facebook users as of June 2017.

"The social media network poses additional risks and threats to young people as their identity and privacy are susceptible to online intrusion. Children expose themselves by posting personal IDs, emotions, location, and images on social networking sites,” said Godfrey Itaye, Director General at MACRA.

ITU COP Pillars
ITU Child Online Protection pillars.

The ITU launched the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative in November 2008 as a multi-stakeholder effort within the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) framework. The initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the global community to create a safe and empowering online experience for children around the world. COP was presented to the ITU Council in 2008 and endorsed by the UN Secretary-General, Heads of State, Ministers and heads of international organizations from around the world.

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