Minister of Post and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth has appealed to digital firms in the country to abide by newly established guidelines for online child safety.
The guidelines have been designed in partnership with UNICEF Cambodia and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, aiming to create a secure and wholesome online environment for young users.
Vandeth’s call to action occurred during the introduction of the Guidelines on Child Online Protection for the Digital Technology Industry on June 6, taking place at the Ministry’s headquarters.
“Such guidelines reaffirm the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia and partners to take up a clear stance on the protection of children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse in Cambodia,” he stated.
Vandeth emphasised the crucial role of the digital technology industry in executing child safeguarding policies and rapid responses to incidents of online child sexual abuse.
“Without the participation of the industry, the online child protection project would have faced difficulty and might not have been successful,” he added.
The minister clarified that implementing these guidelines was not a burden on the private sector, rather a beneficial guide for digital technology firms. The guide aids them in complying with laws and aligning with rising digital trends in Cambodia, the region, and beyond.
Tan Sodany, the director of the ICT policy department at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, believes the guidelines will encourage companies to address potential harms related to technology usage promptly.
“The companies could fulfil the responsibilities for implementing the child protection policy in their respective units. They could also prevent and respond to content showing child sex abuse,” Sodany noted.
The policies create measures to suppress online child sexual abuse, and lay down clear rules for child protection online, ensuring that data and information regarding child internet users are kept confidential.
“These guidelines provide unparalleled opportunities for digital technology industry members including social media, internet service providers, mobile operators, data hosting companies, content creators and producers, and software and application developers to enhance the online safety of every child,” Sodany highlighted.
Will Parks, UNICEF Cambodia’s representative, was pleased to note the guidelines are underpinned by regulations governing international social media companies. However, Parks emphasised the complexity of ensuring online child safety, requiring committed coordination and collaboration with the private sector.
“Cyberbullying and other forms of peer-to-peer violence can affect young people each time they log in to social media or instant messaging platforms. Most alarming is the threat of online sexual exploitation and abuse,” he shared.
Parks referenced UNICEF’s global “Cambodia Disrupting Harm” report, confirming a worrying trend where over one in ten Cambodian children aged 12 to 17 years have experienced some form of online sexual exploitation or abuse.