Office of the Regulator rolls out online safety awareness campaign

A combined effort spearheaded by the Office of the Regulator (O.O.T.R.) is underway to block access to domains relating to child sexual abuse or exploitation material online in Samoa.

The move is a result of cases in Court relating to the issue of pornography.

So the O.O.T.R, its counterparts and local Internet Service Providers (I.S.P’s) have been engaged in a series of dialogues for the execution of a six months pilot project whereby the I.S.P’s are to implement filtering systems to block access to domains relating to child sexual abuse or exploitation material attained from the International Police Organization through the local Transnational Crimes Unit.

In conjunction with the Filtering initiative the Information Communication and Technology Sector through O.O.T.R. has taken the lead in rolling out the Schools Online Safety Awareness Campaign (O.S.A.C.). 

The School O.S.A.C. is scheduled for all Colleges in Upolu and Savai’i, O.O.T.R. have already visited the Colleges and Secondary Schools in the town area and will be visiting Savai’i next week for the said purpose, completing its scheduled round with the rural schools in Upolu in the following weeks.

The concept of the School O.S.A.C. involves discussions on different risks and dangers of the internet, highlighting the relevant offences and raises smart rules with the goal of:

• preventing access or creation of inappropriate content;

• preventing participation in  inappropriate contact; and 

• likewise preventing improper conduct; 

The School O.S.A.C. also focuses on protecting our children whilst still promoting the use of digital devices and the internet given that it is the Digital Age.

“We have been asked during our sessions about available tools to block the inappropriate materials other than the block/delete from the computer and block/delete from your mind strategy,” said Cecily Faasau, O.O.T.R. A.C.E.O. of the Legal Division and Campaign Manager.

“The response is that there are many methods and tools available, some are contained in the pamphlets developed by O.O.T.R for children, teachers, guardians or parents.”

“Although there is no exact hundred percent threat proof tool but better a percentage than nothing; protection and prevention tools are not hundred percent resilient in the sense that whilst you as the parent or guardian is working towards establishing a safe environment for your child someone else is working towards destroying it or finding means of breaking through the barriers you may establish and the tools you have utilized.”

“This is why the approach is towards the mindset and mental state of users and in this context the mindset of children because if you teach them how to think so that they are vigilant then at least we can be a bit more comfortable that they are wise enough to know better and aware of the consequences of their actions and reactions; which we hope will then complement available protection tools.” 

The Regulator, Lefaoalii Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti adds: “So far the feedback has been good, all the schools visits have been accommodating and have stressed that this is a very important and much needed initiative.” 

“Kids are just kids but we need to teach them how to protect themselves from being exposed to the dangerous cyber world out there, we took the lead and we hope that teachers, parents and children themselves will play their part.”     The Office of the Regulator will continue to endeavor to work closely with its counterparts in the various arms of Government and the Public Sector in the performance of other activities under the O.S.A.C. Plan in the drive to combat the online exploitation of children.

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