Ghana To Criminalize Inappropriate Internet Content

The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has announced that Ghana will soon criminalize the sharing of inappropriate social media content.

She cited sexual images as an example of inappropriate content.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful was addressing stakeholders on the second day of the National Week celebration of the Cyber Security Awareness Month 2019 held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) at Teshie in Accra.

Dubbed: “Demonstrating Ghana’s Cyber Security Readiness,” the programme brought together security agencies, heads of departments, schoolchildren and others to discuss Child Online Protection (COP) and develop a framework to curb the risk posed to young people for using the Internet.

She said the ministry was 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.

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 offensive messages, delete as soon as they received them, and avoid passing them on to others.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said most children had become ‘active’ users of the Internet for learning but were unfortunately faced with a lot of challenges, which affected their human rights. She, therefore, called for 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 from being abused on the Internet.

Government, she said, had increased awareness among children across all the regions and by the end of October, 40 schools would have been reached.

She said cyber security policy would be reviewed to meet international standards and called on corporate bodies to support government since it was their collective interest to protect the children.

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 10 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 organizations, international development partners to come up with policies and legislations to protect young Internet users and commended the Ministry of Communications for initiating channels whereby victims who feared reporting to the police could report to seek redress.

Anne-Clare Dufay, UNICEF-Ghana Representative, called on industry players to make their products child-friendly to prevent them from being taken advantage of.

BY Melvin Tarlue