Ghana’s Communications Ministry has launched the new Child Online Protection Reporting Portal in Accra as part of events marking the launch of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month this year. 

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Communication and England based, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), whose responsibility is to minimize the availability of online sexual abuse contents, specifically child sexual abuse images and videos hosted anywhere in the world.

The launch of the new portal comes at a time when according to UNICEF, the number of reports related to child sexual abuse material being accessed, distributed or produced from Ghana has been increasing rapidly over the past years, from 750 in 2016 to 7,000 in 2019.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Communications Ursula Owusu-Ekuful during the launch of the portal, the Deputy Minister of Communication, Alexander K.K. Abban disclosed that the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reporting portal will be used to receive reports of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM) available on the internet, adding that this can enable reporting of cases to the appropriate Internet platforms such as Facebook, to ensure that the images are taken down.

He noted that the portal, which will complement the Point of Contact (PoC) will provide a safe platform for people to report suspected child sexual abuse materials. “It is my firm belief that the National CERT will find the collaboration with the IWF beneficial in responding to cybersecurity incidents involving children,” he affirmed.

Progressive success

Explaining the operations of the Cybercrime/Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Point of Contact further, the Deputy Minister said since its inception has received countless cybercrime/cybersecurity incidents from the public, and key among these reports are online fraud, publication of non-consensual intimate images (sextortion), online impersonation, malware attacks, online blackmail, website defacement, among others.

“Cumulatively, a total of 11,545 reports have been made through the PoC between January and August 2020. Interestingly, a significant number of people called the NCSC through the PoC to seek guidance and direction in resolving cybersecurity incidents,” he confirmed.

The National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako admitted that the launch of the IWF portal will go a step further in protecting our children online.

“I believe this will be another significant milestone in addition to all our modest achievements. It is expected that the IWF portal will be appropriately utilized to take down any illegal or inappropriate images that are incriminating,” he said.

He maintained that a lot of efforts have been made in the area of Child Online Protection and the launch of this important reporting portal, which has a global reach, will complement the work of the National Cyber Security Centre in mitigating the dangers faced by children at a time where the internet has become an important tool for their development.

Dignitaries present at the ceremony includes the Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Country Representative of UNICEF Ghana, Ms. Anne-Claire Dufay, the Deputy Chief of the US Embassy, Mr Christopher Lamora, representing the US Ambassador to Ghana and Members of the National Cyber Security Technical Working Group.

This year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) held on theme: “Cybersecurity in the Era of COVID-19” aimed at reflecting on the current trends on cybersecurity incidents as a result of the increasing use of digital platforms by individuals, businesses and Governments for socio-economic activities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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