Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

Launch of Child Online Protection Initiative
Geneva, Switzerland
7 October 2008

Information and Communication Technologies – or ICTs – have transformed modern lifestyles. They’ve provided us with:

  • real-time communications,

  • borderless and almost unlimited access to information and

  • a wide range of innovative services

At the same time, they have also created new opportunities for exploitation and abuse.

At ITU we are working hard to forge partnerships and support projects whose goal is create a safe and secure cyberenvironment for everyone.

We believe that we have a special responsibility to ensure the safety and security of our young people, for they are our future. That is why we have launched this Child Online Protection Initiative.

Without proper safeguards, children – among the heaviest users of the Internet – are at risk of coming across violent, sexual and other disturbing images.
Without proper legislation and enforcement, children are at risk from intimidation, exploitation and abuse from people who have no scruples about taking advantage of them. Without proper dedication to creating a safe cyberenvironment, we will fail our children.

It is a myth – and a dangerous one – to believe that what happens in the virtual world only has a limited impact on the physical world.
The online world respects neither boundaries nor border. That is why we must cooperate globally. There are many excellent initiatives out there for the protection and well-being of children online. Our aim is to:

  • connect them,

  • promote them,

  • strengthen them.

Cybersecurity is one of the most critical concerns of the information age. It forms the cornerstone of a healthy, connected world. If we make it strong, our economies, our societies and our children will thrive. If we neglect it, we have only ourselves to blame.

I invite you to take part in this important initiative and I look forward to working together with you to make the world – both online and off – a safer place to be.

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