Tag Archives: children

Partnering to protect children and youth online


I am so delighted to have been asked by the ITU and Child Helpline International to moderate their important session on “Partnering to protect children and youth” at the ITU’s Telecom World gathering in Bangkok on 15th November.  The abuse of children online is without question one of the darkest aspects of the use of ICTs, and it is great to see the work that so many child helplines are doing globally to counter and respond to this.

The main objective of the session is to highlight the work done by a range of ICT stakeholders to initiate and support child helplines in various parts of the world.  The session will begin with introductory remarks from Houlin Zhao (the Secretary General of the ITU) and Professor Jaap Doek (Chair of the Board of Child Helpline international).  This will be followed by a short video entitled No child should be left behind, and then Jenny Jones (Director Public Policy, GMSA) will launch new child online protection guidelines for child helplines.  Following this, Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Chief of Strategic Planning and Membership,  ITU) will provide a short overview of the joint campaign being run by the ITU and Child Helpline International to protect children and youth.  She will also outline the process whereby case studies submitted to an online consultation organised by the ITU were selected by a specialist Jury.

I will then moderate what I hope will be a lively and useful panel discussion that brings together the following people and initiatives that were selected through the above process:

  • Anthony Fitzgerald, Kids Helpline Manager, representing Optus from Australia;
  • Ola-jo Tandre, Director and Head of Social Responsibility, Telenor Group;
  • Mofya Chisala, Strategic Analyst, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority; and
  • Enkhbat Tserendoo from the Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia, Mobicom

As moderator, I hope to be drawing out general conclusions about what works, as well as the pitfalls to avoid, from the experiences of these examples of good practice from many different parts of the world.  I very much hope that this will help those in other countries who are thinking about setting up child helplines, and that these experiences will also help those already running such helplines to improve the services that they offer children and young people.

Working together in partnership, we must do much more to counter the abuse of children online, and child helplines are an important element of the overall package of initiatives that must be implemented to achieve this.

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Filed under Development, ICT4D, ICT4D conferences, Inequality

ContactPoint – the UK State is creating a database of all children


Along with many other parents across the UK, I have recently received a letter from one of my children’s schools informing me that legislation has just been passed “requiring Local Authorities to set up and run a nationwide database, known as ContactPoint, which will contain basic details about every child and young person under the age of 18 who is ordinarily resident in England”.

Why should this legislation have been passed?  Why is it compulsory?  Why should everyone have to be registered? In effect, as young people grow older, this database will eventually record information about everyone “normally resident” in the UK. It will provide yet another means through which the State collects private information about individuals, thereby enabling it to impose greater control over its citizens.

The ContactPoint website claims that ” ContactPoint will be the quick way for a practitioner to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support. ContactPoint is an online directory, available to authorised staff who need it to do their jobs, enabling the delivery of coordinated support for children and young people. It is also a vital tool to help safeguard children, helping to ensure that the right agencies are involved at the right time and children do not slip through the net”.

But does this require details on EVERY child in the UK to be recorded on a central database?  The passing of this legislation on 26th January gives rise to very great concern:

  1. Why should every child need to be registered?  Why does the state need to gain information about the name, address, date of birth, and contact details of all parents to be registered centrally?
  2. Given the inability of  the UK government to keep such data secure in the past, there are high risks that this personal information will become accessible to a wide range of people in the future.  Children will therefore be put at risk.
  3. There is no evidence that such a database will make any difference to early interventions when  children really do need the State to intervene to protect them
  4. Who really benefits from this?  Is it not the companies who have persuaded the Government to introduce such very expensive digital systems?
  5. What gives the State any right at all to collect such individual private information.

We must resist this ever great control by the state over its citizens – just because digital technologies enable us to do this, does not mean it is right.

Tim

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Filed under Ethics, ICT4D