- As more Kenyans embrace the digital world, cybercriminals and malicious actors also become more active.
- Cybersecurity challenges, including information disorders, hacking, phishing, identity theft and online scams, have become prevalent.
In today's interconnected world, the internet plays an integral role in our lives. It empowers individuals, facilitates communication and opens up new avenues for learning and economic growth.
However, as we celebrate Internet Safety Month this June, it is imperative to acknowledge the potential risks that come with this digital realm. In Kenya, where the internet penetration rate continues to rise, ensuring internet safety is crucial for safeguarding our citizens and securing the future of our nation.
Kenya has witnessed a significant surge in internet usage over the past decade. The availability of affordable smartphones, coupled with expanded connectivity through initiatives like the National Broadband Strategy, has led to an increased number of Kenyans accessing the internet.
This digital revolution has brought numerous benefits, such as access to information, e-commerce opportunities and online education. However, it has also exposed us to various online threats.
As more Kenyans embrace the digital world, cybercriminals and malicious actors also become more active. Cybersecurity challenges, including information disorders, hacking, phishing, identity theft and online scams, have become prevalent.
These threats not only compromise personal privacy but also undermine trust in online transactions. It is, therefore, vital for the government, private sector, civil society and individuals to collaborate in ensuring robust internet safety measures.
Internet safety starts with promoting digital citizenship and empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills to navigate the online world responsibly.
Schools and educational institutions should incorporate comprehensive digital literacy programmes into their curricula, teaching students about safe online behaviour, recognising and reporting cyberbullying and understanding the consequences of sharing personal information online. By fostering responsible digital citizens, we can create a safer online environment.
To effectively combat cyber threats, government should collaborate with industry stakeholders to establish and enforce cybersecurity laws that protect users from online dangers. This includes measures to deter cybercriminals, strengthen data protection regulations.
Additionally, the government should allocate resources to law enforcement agencies to equip them with the necessary tools and skills to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes effectively. These measures must, however, be within the realm of law and should not threaten freedom of expression as provided for in the constitution.
Online platform companies must also respect and uphold the UN guidelines on business and human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles state that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, independent of state obligations or the implementation of those obligations.
They should conduct due diligence and human rights impact assessments in order to identify, prevent and mitigate against any potential negative human rights impacts of their operations, including when it comes to their content curation or content moderation processes. If this is well done then we are likely to avert instances of unfair labour practices and poor content moderation.
Internet safety is a shared responsibility that requires collaboration between the public, civil society and private sectors. The government should foster public-private partnerships to develop initiatives that promote online safety. These partnerships can facilitate the sharing of best practices, knowledge and resources to enhance cybersecurity infrastructure and raise awareness among the public.
Collaboration with internet service providers, social media platforms, and technology companies can help identify and mitigate emerging online threats swiftly.
Effective internet safety initiatives should prioritise raising awareness among Kenyan citizens of all ages. Public awareness campaigns, workshops and training programmes should be conducted regularly to educate individuals about the risks and protective measures associated with online activities.
As we celebrate Internet Safety Month, let us remember that our digital future relies on our collective efforts to ensure internet safety. Safeguarding Kenya's citizens, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires comprehensive education and effective public-private partnerships.
Let us strive to create a digital ecosystem that empowers individuals, fosters economic growth and protects our citizens from the perils of the online world. Together, we can build a safer and more resilient digital future for Kenya.
Senior programme officer at Article 19 Eastern Africa