Senegal prepares national plan to protect children online

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

Senegal is taking action to ensure that its children are protected online and do not become victims of harmful content, cybercrime, bullying and other criminal offences perpetrated by syndicates on the internet.

Posts and telecoms minister Abdoul Yaya Kane said recently that his government, in partnership with a couple of international organisations, is busy developing a national plan and elaborating a legal document aiming to tackle the scourge.

“This is an inclusive approach whereby all actors and stakeholders involved in the issue will make contributions, including identifying legal and technical perspectives, in order to provide children with a safe and secure online environment,” Kane said in the capital Dakar.

“The government pays particular attention to the protection of children. It is therefore necessary to get them understand the dangers of the internet by creating awareness or adopting filtering methods for certain content and programmes,” he added.

“I was shocked when I discovered that my 10-year-old son has not only been watching and downloading porn on the internet in his cellphone, but also sharing it with his friends,” 45-year-old Fatou Cissé said last week in the impoverished township of Ouakam.

“He confessed and apologised, but nevertheless I took away the Android phone and gave him a non-internet enabled device,” she added.

“The internet now gives our children a platform to socialise. This increases the risk of them falling prey to the dangers of ICTs,” Kane said.

The government has recently hosted an information sharing workshop with its partners in the aim of seeking long-lasting solutions.

The state intends to implement a series of regulations on the recommendations from this workshop, in order to establish a global space of practical exchanges that will help protect the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

In the face of rising children’s exposure to the dangers of ICTs, the International Telecommunication Union launched four years ago the ITU Child Online Protection (COP),  a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to promote awareness of the importance of child safety in the online world.



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