PUTRAJAYA, Feb 11 — The government takes an extremely serious view of cyber threats against children as the victims are from an age group most vulnerable to Internet crimes, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister , said children mainly faced cyber threats in the form of pornography, ‘child grooming’ and ‘sexting’, all of which are worrisome.
She said according to a DiGi CyberSAFE2015 study, one in four children are most likely to meet people whom they barely know online.
“That is 25 percent, but enough to really worry me,” she said at the launch of the Malaysian edition of the 2020 Safer Internet Day (SID) programme here today.
Also present were Communications and Multimedia deputy minister Datuk Eddin Syazlee Shith and secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad.
According to Dr Wan Azizah, the 2018 Internet Users Survey showed that 70 percent of parents imposed tight rules and limits on their children’s Internet usage or sit near the child when they are on the web. However, of that, only 12.2 percent opt to activate the parental control option, while 7.4 percent do not do anything at all.
She added that there were parents, meanwhile, who use gadgets as ‘cyber nanny’ mediums to babysit or to control their children.
The deputy prime minister said in this regard, various efforts have and are being taken to fight cyber crimes against children, including getting telecommunication companies’ help to stop the spread of child pornographic materials.
“The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) standard operating procedure for all telecommunication companies will be further streamlined to strengthen and hasten law enforcement, particularly sexual crimes against children.
She added that an agreement has been reached between the government and regional and Malaysian Facebook representatives to enhance collaboration with enforcement agencies to report and take down such materials from its social media platform.
Dr Wan Azizah said the National Population and Family Development Population Board (LPPKN), an agency under her ministry, had also implemented initiatives to curb cyber threats against children, including developing the Family and Children Safety Education Module (PEKA).
It complements the Children’s Act (Amendment) 2016, whereby, based on the amendment to the act, parents and guardians’ awareness was crucial and must be boosted in tackling issues of neglect, carelessness and abuse of children, including security in the cyber world, she said.
Among the new topics covered in the act were sexual offences, child sexual grooming and child pornography whereby some of the issues were also mentioned in the PEKA module.
At the ceremony, Dr Wan Azizah also launched a book ‘Mendidik Anak-Anak Digital’ (Educating Digital Children) published by CyberSecurity Malaysia, containing information on educating children on cyber security.
She said the book was suitable to be used as a reference for those handling children aged four to six.
‘’As such, the training module was also developed together with the book to teach kindergarten teachers educate children from an early age.
‘’Education on the importance of cyber security to the younger generation must be provided by all quarters so that they can gain knowledge and awareness to make cyber ethics their way of life,’’ she added.