Macra finalizes National Child Online Protection Strategy

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has disclosed that it has finalized drafting National Child Online Protection Strategy, which seeks to protect children from threats and harms on the internet.

Speaking during the validation meeting of the strategy in Lilongwe on Wednesday, MACRA Director General, Daud Sulemani, said the authority’s aim is to provide a conducive and enabling environment for the growth of cyberspace and digital economy.

“The strategy has been developed as a response to the changing communication landscape which has seen a migration of our livelihood to the cyber space, placing children and young adults as one of the most vulnerable in the society needing deliberate measures to ensure their online safety,” he said.

Adding that: “We are living in the digital era with an increased uptake of digital communication services.” 

Suleman said the positive impact imposed by these technological advancements cannot be over-emphasized as it has made communication, education and business easier.

MACRA Director General Daud Suleman

He said nations are edging towards a truly global digital economy driven by the fluidity, nature, and reach of the internet which has no boundaries.

This entails that our children and young adults are the digital generations, born and raised with access to digital information and the ability to navigate new communication technologies, he said.

Suleman further said the influence that digital technologies have on lives, especially children and young adults is unparalleled.

According to him, International Communications Union (ITU) reports that 1 in every 3 children has access to the internet, and over 69% of young adults have and Malawi as a country has seen a surge in cybercrimes more notably mobile money fraud, cyberbullying, harassment, misinformation and the spread of fake news such that children and young adults are the most vulnerable.

Suleman observed that children and the youth have become exposed to a wide range of explicit, hateful, sexual, and harmful content making them vulnerable to exploitation.

The strategy is founded on the principles of safe digital space, best interest of a child, non-discrimination, child participation, parental and guardian responsibility, community responsibility, and service provider responsibility.  

Boniface Mandele from Article 3 Consultancy firm said the Strategy will provide safe cyberspace and prevent all potential threats and harms that children encounter online and respond to those affected.

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