Children need to be protected on all forms on online and offline media.
Kenya recognizes anyone under the age of 18 as a child. The country has a population of about 52 million. By the year 2000 there were only 200 000 internet users. The number rose to 46.87 million by June 2019. This implies 89.8% of Kenyans are internet users.
It was noted the workshop on the first day of the Child Online Protection (COP) that parents purchase ICT materials for their children. Not all children use these gadgets responsibly. Others use them in a way that exposes themselves to online abuse by people who sometimes they know or even those whom they do not know.
Irresponsible use of ICT gadgets by children exposes them to Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE). Online Child Sexual Exploitation refers to all crimes committed by offenders who are using ICT and/or the Internet to facilitate sexual abuse on children.
Online Child Sexual Exploitation is manifested in the following forms;
- Child pornography (Child Sexual Abuse)
- Online grooming of children for sexual purposes
- Sexual extortion of children
- Live online child sexual abuses or live streaming of child sexual abuse
- Sexting etc.
When a child is reported to have been sexually abused online, it is advisable to report the case immediately. At Kenya Police Service there is the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit which collects, preserves and examines computer digital evidence to support investigation and prosecution of offences against children online. The Directorate of Criminal Investigation is directly involved in investigating such cases.
Roles of Stake holders in the case of an online child abuse
Roles of the following stakeholders were discussed;
- Counselling the victim
- Take the victim to hospital
- Report the case to online platform provider
- Suspend the account of the victim
- monitor online child activity
- create awareness about online abusers
- Sue the perpetrators
Regulatory authority (Communications Authority of Kenya, CA)
- preserve evidence
- take down the evidence from the internet
- report the matter to police
- create awareness of online sexual abuse
- install applications which restrict access to risky websites for children
- Report the matter to relevant authorities for assistance law enforcement agencies – DCI
- Investigate the matter
- Assemble evidence from online sources
The International Community
- Providing legal for prosecuting and investigating crimes against children online
- Providing technical support to investigation departments during investigations of online offenses
- Sensitizing people on the sexual offenses children may encounter online
Internet security –Facebook and Email Accounts
Participants were taken through sessions on internet security with emphasis on protection of email and Facebook accounts. The facilitator explained that it is crucial to protect Facebook accounts from hackers. It is important to protect personal information and data including Facebook profiles, and Page admins information, because they are often targeted by online abusers to gain access to contacts and sensitive information. Follow this link to learn more on how to protect your Facebook accounts. https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/blog/keep-your-facebook-information-secure
Here are 10 easy steps to protect yourself online. They can help protect your family and friends too and help to prevent your email from being hacked:
- Use a password manager and two-factor authentication wherever possible
- If signing up for a new email service, check for 2FA support
- Don’t click suspicious links in email or texts
- Use a VPN on your computer and your phone
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi or public computers, if you can help it
- Get a strong antivirus
- Secure your router and Wi-Fi
- Keep your computer and smartphone OS up-to-date
- Keep all of your computer and smartphone apps regularly updated.
- Consider putting a credit freeze on your account
Why Internet security?
Internet security refers to ensuring safe use of computing devices both the software and the user. It is the state of wellbeing of information and infrastructure. Computer security aims at protecting computer systems and the information a user stores or processes. Users should focus on various security threats and countermeasures in order to protect their information assets. Unsafe use of computers may result into data loss and cyber-attacks among others.
National policies and laws that deal with online child protection in KENYA
Apart from International legal framework on online sexual harassment, Kenya has localised the legislation to suit the Kenyan context. These are just some of the instruments which regulate the use of ICT with an aim of protecting Kenyan citizens.
Constitution of Kenya article 53:1 gives every child the right to identity. At birth every child must be registered as a citizen of Kenya and be given a name. This means that if they use that name to register on any online platform and someone steals their identity, they have a right to sue them and get justice. Article 53:1D also protects children from all forms of abuses and harm, Online Child Sexual Harassment inclusive.
Other instruments which protect children and other internet users from online abuses include; The Children’s Act No8 of 2001, Kenya Information and Communications Act, Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act of 2008 and National Children’s Policy of 2010.
Negative impact of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Media
Children are susceptible to harmful information through ICT and media. There is therefore need for the state, stakeholders and other key persons in a child’s life to ensure that the child is protected against possible harm. The specific measures of protection include among others:
- Instituting legislation on the use of Internet by children while incorporating clear guidelines and regulations on pornography and other criminal related exposures.
- Awareness programs for the duty bearers on the dangers posed by exposure to uncontrolled media and pornographic materials
The workshop ended on Friday 15 November, 2019 with all participants receiving certificates of completion for the course.