International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has launched a new initiative to safeguard children, the most vulnerable users of the Internet.
Ban Ki-Moon , United Nations Secretary-General said this in an address at ITU’s high-level meeting on cybersecurity by video message. “We have to protect against cyberthreats, especially when they target children. I welcome the ITU’s ‘Child Online Protection’ initiative and urge all States to support it," he said.
The Child Online Protection (COP) initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the international community with the aim of creating a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere. While the virtual world offers unlimited opportunities in many respects, it is also the hunting ground for cybercriminals and paedophiles. Recognizing that a concerted global effort would be required to ensure that the cyberworld becomes a safe place for young people to work, learn and play, ITU is working with other UN agencies, including Unicef, UNICRI and UNIDIR.
Dr Pascal Villeneuve, associate director of Unicef in Geneva pointed out that promoting the rights of children is central to the mandate of Unicef, as the world is rapidly changing. “Issues around the protection of children increasingly involve some kind of online component. The Internet and telecommunications, for example mobile phones, present some major challenges in the context of child protection, but these technologies also make the world more connected — which means we have to be as well. That’s why we welcome efforts to combine expertise in combating cybercrime against children," he said.
Sandro Calvani, executive director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) said, UNICRI is proud to take part in the ITU initiative on Child Online Protection, acting in partnership with other agencies from the UN family. The UN is against any type of child abuse, which includes abuse online.
Along with UN agencies, other organizations have come forward to support the initiative. eWWG, a consortium of 37 international companies and universities, has come on board. Salma Abbasi, founder and chairman of eWWG, expressed optimism about the potential impact that the COP initiative will have. By focusing our collective efforts on making the online world safe for children, we have the opportunity to really make a difference, especially in developing countries.
Companies such Intel, Microsoft and Telecom Italia have also pledged their support. Organizations, such as the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the GSM Association are fully behind the initiative.
Rob Conway, chief executive officer and member of the Board of the GSMA, said it is vitally important that children across the world can go online safely and that ITU’s Child Online Protection initiative is a significant step in that direction. "Our support for this global initiative is part of a broader effort by our members to work with governments and other stakeholders to prevent mobile networks worldwide from being used to endanger children," he said.
Other agencies, like the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, INTERPOL and Save The Children have also signed on. Kristin Kvigne, assistant director of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Human Beings Sub-Directorate, said INTERPOL is committed to fighting Internet-related crimes against children, which it has set as one of the top priorities for international policing. "To achieve this priority, INTERPOL is working globally with partners and supports initiatives like COP to raise awareness and focus on the need to act locally and think globally to ensure the online protection of children," he added.