Expert hails safe cyberspace program for children

Expert hails safe cyberspace program for children
Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority signed an agreement with the International Telecommunication Union to launch the global program. (SPA)
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Updated 28 December 2020

Expert hails safe cyberspace program for children

Expert hails safe cyberspace program for children
  • Its primary goal is to support the development of best practices, policies and programs to enhance the protection of children online

RIYADH: A new program to create a safe cyberspace for children around the world is “of paramount importance” to protect their security and privacy online, a cybersecurity expert says.
“While the internet can bring significant benefits of knowledge, education, entertainment and development, it also exposes children to many risks including cyberbullying, violence and harassment,” Dr. Muhammad Khurram Khan, professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University and founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, told Arab News.
The National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), in cooperation with the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technologies, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has signed a strategic partnership agreement to launch the global program.
“This cooperation would underpin the strategies to reduce cybercrimes that target online children and provide their guardians with the necessary digital skills to eradicate and report cyber risks,” he said.
NCA Gov. Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Sabti and ITU’s telecommunication development bureau director, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, penned the accord on Dec. 17 at the union’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegates from both sides attended the ceremony, including the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, envoy Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, and deputy governor of the NCA for international cooperation, Majid bin Mohammed Al-Mazyed.
Empowering children with cybersecurity awareness and online safety skills was a pressing global need, Khan said, considering the dangers they could be exposed to in the course of their internet use.
“It is also important to protect children from terrorist, radicalized and extremist groups who could harm them by their malicious ideologies,” he said. “Indeed, this initiative is a landmark step toward global capacity building and empowering stakeholders in addressing child online safety issues.”
The program was created as part of an initiative sponsored by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which was announced during the Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) in Riyadh in February this year.
Its primary goal is to support the development of best practices, policies and programs to enhance the protection of children online with the growing cyberthreats that target children and expose them to cybercrime.
Houlin Zhao, the secretary-general of ITU, applauded the Kingdom’s role in supporting international activities to protect children in cyberspace, and expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s efforts in this area, including the crown prince’s initiative.
The NCA-ITU partnership is built on these pillars: Supporting countries in evaluating, developing and improving relevant policies, launching awareness campaigns, enriching discussions on child protection in developing nations, and establishing task forces to help countries set up child protection programs.
The program will result in deliverables that include the translation and dissemination of guidelines to protect children in cyberspace. These guidelines were developed by more than 50 global entities and will be shared in more than 20 languages.
The program will provide more than 50 global training courses in the UN’s official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
More than 500 open consultations will be held to follow up on the program’s implementation. “Training of the trainers” will be provided around the globe to support implementation of the child online protection guidelines, and to provide instruction on how to develop applications for smartphones and educational games that contribute to online protection for children.