The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to a webinar organised by the Children’s Rights Unit on the occasion of the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). The webinar will focus on children’s rights in the digital age in Africa.
Tuesday 8 September 2020
09:00 GMT / 10:00 WAT / 11:00 SAST / 12:00 EAT
Theme: Children's rights in the digital sphere in Africa
- Moderator: Dr Admark Moyo, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
- Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, University of the Western Cape
- Avani Singh, Director, ALT Advisory
- Florence Chileshe-Nkhuwa, Chief Executive Officer, Childline Zambia & Africa Regional Representative, Child Helpline International
- Afrooz Kaviani Johnson, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF
- Introductory remarks (Centre for Human Rights, 10 minutes)
- Key issues in technology and children’s rights in Africa (15 minutes)
- A focus on privacy and data protection (15 minutes)
- Opportunities and challenges regarding children’s rights in the digital age (15 minutes)
- Impact of COVID-19 on children’s digital rights (15 minutes)
- Discussion (Participants, 20 minutes)
- Concluding remarks (5 minutes)
Technological advancements and access to internet have shaped the overall development of global and African economies. In the last two decades, there have been growing concerns with regards to the interaction of technology with people within human rights discourse. This discourse acknowledges the positive contributions of technology, such as those that enhance certain protections and guarantees, as well as those that facilitate human rights violations in other respects. Technological advancements and access to internet have shaped the overall development of global and African economies. In the last two decades, there have been growing concerns with regards to the interaction of technology with people within human rights discourse. This discourse acknowledges the positive contributions of technology, such as those that enhance certain protections and guarantees, as well as those that facilitate human rights violations in other respects.
It is estimated that one in three internet users worldwide is a child (defined as a person under the age of 18 years) and that one in three children have access to internet (Livingstone 2016). Further and perhaps the most worrying statistic is that ‘the number of online activities in which children engage, the digital skills they develop and the online risks they encounter all increase as children get older’ (Livingstone, 2019). This is contrary to the common logic within the child rights discourse which posits that the capacities of children to handle complex issues evolves, and therefore vulnerability to harm decreases with age. This reality raises concerns about the protection of children in the digital sphere and the measures that states should take to address key challenges posed by children’s access to ICT devices and the internet.
Naturally, and in light of the heightened risks, the narrative regarding the protection of the privacy rights of children in the digital era has tended towards a protectionist and reactionary approach. Internet users, regardless of age, face pronounced privacy risks, but children are more susceptible. Through engaging in online activities, their personal data is collected, either voluntarily or automatically, with little regard for the implications of sharing such personal information for their privacy in the short and long terms. Yet, these risks coexist with a need to promote children’s access to internet and technology as a necessity for their learning, development and general relevance in the 21st century and beyond. The need for an enabling regulatory legislative and policy framework for this purpose is therefore clearly evident.
- To draw the attention of CSOs to issues arising in the context of the rights of children in the digital sphere in Africa
- To share perspectives from ongoing research on children and digital rights
- To inform a regional approach to the protection of children’s rights in the digital context in Africa
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