Cyberspace is the nursery for young minds to grow and expand their horizons.
It is the font of knowledge and information in the digital age and the incubator
of fresh ideas and new innovations. It is a cornucopia of all that is good and
wonderful in the virtual world of entertainment where one can conjure, almost
with magical ease, anything the mind desires at the click of a finger. Its menu
offers an infinite mosaic of cultures, languages, literature, science and
technology, music and theatre, games and sports — and much more.
Yet, cyberspace has its challenges. As children and teenagers venture into the
wide open world of cyberspace, surfing the Internet, imbibing its encyclopaedic
breadth of content, accessing video libraries, entering chat rooms and building
social networks, they are exposed to certain elements of society that we would
shun in the real world. Three in four children are willing to share personal
information about themselves and their family online in exchange for goods and
services. One in five is targeted by a predator or paedophile each year.
Protecting children in cyberspace is clearly our duty. That is why we launched
the Child Online Protection (COP) initiative — an integral part of ITU’s Global
Cybersecurity Agenda. It is in line with our mandate to strengthen cybersecurity
and to establish the foundations for a safe and secure cyberworld for future
generations. We take this very seriously at ITU, and this year the theme for
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is Protecting Children in
Cyberspace. It will influence our work not only on the Day but throughout
the year and in the future as well.
The Internet and the growing convergence in online applications and mobile
devices are global resources that must be allowed to flourish for the common
good. We must endeavour to make cyberspace a safe, healthy and productive
environment for our children. We have to create a global network to protect our
children online by enacting national legislation, strengthening capacity
building, increasing public awareness and improving national cyber
responsiveness. Only then can we say that we have created a universally
accessible information society where human dignity is respected and where
everyone — especially children — can benefit from the opportunities accorded by
ICTs to attain higher levels of development.
We celebrate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2009 in the
knowledge that we have set forth a strong momentum to make cyberspace a safe
place for our children where every child can harness the full potential of ICTs,
and where every citizen on this planet can exercise the right to access, use,
create and share information.
Let us resolve to protect our children in cyberspace and promote their
inalienable rights to access information and knowledge in a safe and secure