The Communications Authority of Kenya has released a new set of Child Online Protection and Safety Guidelines for public debate. Under the Internet safety guidelines, CA proposes that parents provide the identity of minors who will be using smartphones.
“Mobile service providers in the development of age-verification mechanism ensure that All SIM cards that are to be used by children/minors shall be registered,” the guidelines say.
Telcos, Internet service providers and app developers will be expected to verify the age of the users.
“Mobile phone subscribers are informed of the need to appropriately register their SIM cards and declare the intended subscribers of the SIM cards.”
The new listing proposes a registry for children using smartphones to enable protection of minors against online vices such as cyberbullying, identity theft and pornography. This means that parents and guardians might be required to to prove the children’s ages using a third-party service.
Currently, parents use their credentials to register SIM cards for their underage minors. However, there is an increase in the usage of mobile phones and access to internet by minors and safety has become a huge concern.
The internet offers minors access to useful features such as educational material and online learning capabilities. However, certain platforms expose children to vices such as hate speech, cybercrime and online misconduct.
The new guidelines propose that registration of SIM cards be done under the Kenya Information and Communications (Registration of SIM-cards) Regulations, 2015. The regulations under the guideline provide for a fine of Sh300,000 or jail term of six months or both for the registration of minors.
The guidelines also propose that vendors selling smartphones and tablets install in-built security and include inbuilt apps such as parental control to protect children against harmful content.
“Manufacturers and vendors of communication devices including customer premises equipment should…activate heightened default security prior to them being sold or made accessible to customers, especially for devices that would be used by children,” reads part of the new guidelines.
This might include parental controls in web browsers and app stores that allow parents to monitor and regulate their children’s browsing habits.
Parents may view the surfing history of their supervised children, restrict specific websites, and approve access requests.