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MACRA for Collective Efforts in Safeguarding Children on Internet

By Yamikani Yapuwa

MACRA’s Director of Economic Affairs, Andrew Nyirenda addressing the gathering during commemoration of safer internet Day at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

Blantyre, February 8, Mana: Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has underscored the need for different partners including service providers, the media and civil society organizations to play their rightful role in ensuring phones and the internet remain safer for children.

MACRA’s Director of Economic Affairs, Andrew Nyirenda made the call on Tuesday during the commemoration of Safer Internet Day in Blantyre, citing the need for all stakeholders to prioritize strengthening activation and enforcement of the law regarding online abuse and scale up capacity building and awareness of the law.

“We have to scale up efforts by connecting through a truly global alliance to develop an empowering, safe and inclusive digital agenda for children,” he said.

Nyirenda added that, “We have to prioritize appropriate allocation of resources towards the implementation of the law that provides online protection, including training law enforcers and strengthening of justice institutions to manage and handle reported online abuse cases, tracking mechanisms, investigations and prosecution of online abuses.”

The Director said MACRA would remain committed to developing systems and frameworks that make the internet safe for all and continue to encourage and work with all service providers both at national and grassroots levels.

“MACRA acknowledges and appreciates the ongoing promising steps being taken towards making the digital space safe for all,” he said.

“This year, MACRA plans to continue conducting consumer education programmes regarding the Electronic Transaction and Cyber Security Act which provides for the protection of all internet users to any form of abuse and exploitation,” Nyirenda pointed out.

He urged all partners in the country to observe the day and help to spread the message of promoting safer internet especially for young people in the country, considering that every day, every half a second, a child goes online for the first time to tap into all the great opportunities the Internet has to offer.

“It is the duty of all Malawians to protect children from pornography, sexual exploitation, cyber bullying and the misuse of their private information,” Nyirenda said.

Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) Helpline Services Manager, Moses Msukwa said children are vulnerable on the internet since it was not spared in terms of abusers and offenders.

“Looking at their vulnerability regardless of the sphere; either physical space or cyber space, there is need to make sure that they are protected from all angles of abuse that might manifest on the internet,” he said.

Information and Communication Technology Association of Malawi (ICTAM) Vice President, Andrew Kasasi said there was need for awareness for parents to know the tools that they may use to safeguard their children on the internet.

“There ought to be a deliberate effort from the industry and parents to manage the use of internet for our young ones,” he said, citing that, “There are solutions which can be implemented by parents where they can blacklist specific sites and Internet Protocols (IPs) so that a child cannot access.”

“What we have noted is that awareness is not there among the parents but the solutions are there, it only needs the industry and parents to work together,” Kasasi said.

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