The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has announced that Ghana would soon criminalise the sharing of inappropriate social media content.
Addressing stakeholders on the second day of the National week celebration of the Cyber Security Awareness Month 2019, being held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful cited sexual images as an example of inappropriate content, adding that all should comply with the domestic laws, when passed, to avoid being penalized.
The Minister said there would be sufficient provision in the law to protect children/adolescents from online abuse.
She, therefore, called on the public to be wary of such messages, delete as soon as they received them, and avoid passing them on.
“The Ministry is working with the Attorney General, and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, among others to come up with the framework on child online development and welfare within the shortest possible time,” she said.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful explained that most children had become active users of the internet for learning but are unfortunately facing a lot of challenges, which affects their human rights and, therefore, the need to protect them.
She said most of the laws of Ghana were enacted before child online protection came up, as a result, sufficient laws should be put in place to protect children being abused on the internet.
“Government has increased awareness among children across all the regions and by the end of October, 40 schools would have been reached,” she said adding that cybersecurity policy would be reviewed to meet international standards.
The Minister also called on corporate bodies to support government since it was in their collective interest to protect the children.
On her part, the second lady, Hajia Samira Bawumia, said a collaborative effort was essential to protect children from online predators.
Quoting UNICEF’s research done in 2016, she said four out of ten children had seen sexual images and half of the 2000 children used in the survey expressed online abuse by adults.
She, therefore, called on government, educators, civil society organisations, international development partners to come up with policies and legislation to protect young internet users.
Hajia Samira commended the Ministry of Communications for initiating channels whereby victims who feared reporting to the police could report to in order to seek redress.
“Parents have to be abreast with the use of the internet in order to guide their children on its usage as their children mostly were knowledgeable than them,” she advised.
Madam Afisah Zakaria, the Chief Director of Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, called for the monitoring of service providers of sex sites to protect children from accessing those sites, stating that the law would soon be enshrined with strict penalties so that sending, retaining, and sharing of such contents would be punishable by law.
The programme which was in the theme, “Demonstrating Ghana’s Cyber Security Readiness,” brought together security agencies, heads of departments, school children and others to discuss Child Online Protection (COP) and develop a framework to curb the risk posed to young people for using the internet.