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ASEAN members, private sector gather in first forum on child, youth online protection

QUEZON CITY (PIA) -- Recognizing the influence of technology and the associated risks for children, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Member States (AMS) has collaborated with private sector institutions to strengthen children’s protection against all forms of online exploitation and abuse.

Through a two-day blended forum beginning Wednesday, Nov 2, the ASEAN ICT Forum on Child Online Protection was the first in a series of events under the leadership of ASEAN to create a platform for dialogue and exchange between ICT companies, governments, civil society, academia, including children and young people themselves.

The forum was organized under the leadership of the Royal Government of Cambodia and ASEAN, with support from the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Australia's eSafety Commissioner and Australia's Attorney General's Department.

Participants in the forum were ASEAN Member State representatives, relevant ASEAN bodies, private sector companies, international organizations, NGOs, UN entities, academia, media, technical experts from the international, regional, and national levels and children and youth.

The forum provided an avenue to exchange views and share knowledge on strengthening the role of the ASEAN ICT/private sector and in implementing the Regional Plan on Action on the Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse (RPA on COEA).

The forum was an opportunity to hear about cutting-edge research on prevention and response, and new technologies developed for detection of online child sexual abuse and exploitation; a chance to engage and collaborate with relevant stakeholders on child online protection; and learn from experience of private sector companies and industry experts on measures to keep children safe online.

Children and young people also shared their experiences in the digital environment and their expectations from the ICT sector.

Some of the sessions over the course of the forum were understanding online abuse and exploitation of children in Southeast Asia with resource persons from ECPAT international, INTERPOL, and Western Sydney University.

Based on ASEAN records, at least 3 out of 4 internet users in the Asia-pacific region are children and youths aged between 15 and 24 years old. In addition to entertainment, the internet gives these children and the youth access to information; it enables them to learn new skills, and develop social relationships.

The ASEAN organization said the increased reliance in both digital services and the information the internet provides is bringing both positive and negative impact on children and young people’s lives. Potential threats such as exposure to inappropriate content, violations of privacy, cyberbullying, and online sexual exploitation have also manifested. (CS/MCA - PIA PMD)

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Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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