Stakeholders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society, law enforcement, education sector and the government have over the last two days held discussions on the modalities of developing a national framework on child online protection.

The workshop hosted by Communications Authority of Kenya and UNICEF, addressed various issues including the current legal framework, the role of various actors in protecting children online and the use of technology for safe Internet use.

Attorney General, Prof. Githu Muigai noted that child online protection is a multi-sectorial issue that requires the support and collective effort of different stakeholders with different competencies. “You will be pleased to know that we are working on the draft Bill on Cybercrime and Computer-related crimes in order to equip law enforcement agencies with the necessary legal and forensic tools to tackle cybercrime. I urge you to provide inputs that can also be considered in the Bill so that we can safeguard the interests of children in this legislation.”

At the close of the workshop there was general consensus that a multi-sectorial approach is the most effective way of dealing with this challenge. There was the strong proposal for the formation of a multi-sectorial steering committee to guide discussions going forth. Other proposals from the workshop include harmonization of child protection laws and policies in Kenya, development and use of technical tools for safer Internet experience, enhanced reporting mechanisms and increased awareness creation.

Speaking during the opening of the workshop, CA Director General. Mr. Francis Wangusi highlighted that the Authority has over the last three months been running a campaign on child online protection. “This however is only a scratch on the surface. There is much more left to do and many more players that need to be engaged to carry on with the duty of protecting the future generations of this country from dangers that lurk in the cyberspace.”

In 2013, UNICEF commissioned a study to understand how children, aged 12-17, in Kenya are using social media and digital technologies, and what risks and opportunities this presents for the protection and advancements of their rights. The study revealed that many of the participants have encountered sexually explicit and pornographic content via the internet on computers and mobile phones, with some sharing it on DVDs and hard drives.

Other surveys show that over 60 per cent of children and young people talk in chat rooms and other online platforms such as social media on a daily basis. Three out of four children online are willing to share personal information about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services and as many as one in five children could be targeted by a predator each year.