Cyber-Safety a Priority for Partners in Tonga
Nuku’alofa, 18 August 2014 – As Tonga’s access to mobile and internet technology continues to grow rapidly, cyber-safety has become an important priority and was the focus of consultations held by key stakeholders last week in Nuku’alofa.
“Tonga can expect faster, more affordable and more reliable internet through a recent project supported by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank that will bring greater high-speed internet access,” said Mr Paula Ma’u, CEO of Ministry of Environment, Energy, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Meteorology, Information and Communications (MEECCDDMIC) and Chairperson of the Cyber Crime Committee.
“As such, it is important that we all do our part for a safer and more secure online experience for all, particularly for our children and young people. This is why our focus for this workshop has been on Cyber Safety which is a priority for us,” he said.
The National Youth Week Workshop was led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs through the National Cyber Challenges Task Force. The workshop began on Monday August 11, with the theme, “Youth and Mental Health Matters – No Cyberbullying.” The week’s programme included school and community outreach sessions and consultations with key stakeholders to discuss cyber-bullying in the broader context of cyber safety and emerging challenges regarding mobile and internet use in Tonga.
In her closing remarks, UNICEF Pacific Chief of Child Protection, Amanda Bissex, said “UNICEF would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Tonga’s efforts in being the first in the Pacific to address issues on cyber safety in such a holistic and multi-sectoral manner by including government, churches, corporate partners, NGOs, communities, schools, teachers, parents and young people.”
“I would also like to highlight the commitment and support from the two national internet and mobile providers, Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) and Digicel for their joint commitment as key partners on Cyber Safety here in Tonga,” said Ms Bissex.
She added that “While the gaps in legislation and policies are being addressed, there are many simple things that each one of us can do to mitigate some of the impacts of cyber-crimes and cyber-bullying.”
“For instance, it is important to promote good digital citizenship, especially among children. It’s important to teach them that who they are online is just as important as who they are offline. It’s important that parents, educators, churches, leaders and communities continue to not only encourage children and young people to learn and explore the internet, but to also set good examples themselves on safe, responsible and respectful internet use,” she said.
The workshop ended on Friday, August 15 with public displays from TCC and Digicel and the promotion of positive and creative uses of the internet and mobile phones.
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