The Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, deliberated on a national online policy to protect children from accessing unwholesome information on the internet.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami who presented the memo for deliberations at FEC, said it became necessary to protect the rights of children who access the internet to gather information.
Giving further insights into the policy codenamed “National Child Online Protection Policy and Strategy,” Pantami said there are many benefits of going online, saying: “The world population reached 10 billion on the 15th November 2022. Today, we have around 6.3 billion people online and by implication, among this number, you will discover many children. They will not be able to differentiate [between] what is beneficial and what is harmful.”
He said an official report provided by the International Telecommunication Union, indicated that more than one billion children were online, especially during COVID-19, when most of them were out of schools were shut down and then switched to virtual learning.
Pantami noted that children may find it difficult to differentiate between what is beneficial and what is harmful.
His words: “Today, without any solicitation, if you go online, you will discover that many things are coming into your device unsolicitedly. And if you are at least mature, you will be able to avoid [them] but children would not be able to and that will definitely affect their innocence and will even affect them morally and otherwise.
“It is because of this that the International Telecommunication Union, which is an arm of the United Nations, came up with a policy document for all its member countries. Nigeria is part and parcel of the International Telecommunication Union. The document has been titled “Keeping Children Safe in the Digital Environment: The Importance of Our Protection Under Empowerment”.
According to him: “In this document, all member countries have been urged to ensure they come up with a policy where children are going to be protected.
The UK, he noted, has a bill on online safety.
He added: “Many countries are working on a similar document. It is because of this, we organized stakeholder engagement, where we invited around 37 institutions of government, because if you look at the challenge, it is not only one sector, but rather it is [a] multi-sectoral issue, Ministry of Information and Culture, National Broadcasting Commission, National Orientation Agency, all of them have a role to play. Security institutions have a role to play. Ministry of Justice has a role to play when it comes to differentiating what is legal and what is illegal, what is fake and what is real information and culture has a role to play.”