Mrs Afua Brown-Eyison, Lead of Child Online Protection, Cyber Security Authority (CSA), has warned against the possession of nude pictures of children whether on phone, computer or in a printed format.
She said the act was criminal.
While speaking on the Child Online Offences in the Cybersecurity Act, 2020, Mrs Brown-Eyison said dealing with a child for the purposes of sexual abuse, aiding and abetting of child dealing for purposes of sexual abuse and cyberstalking of a child were also criminal.
She said sexual extortion, non-consensual showing of intimate image and threat to distribute prohibited intimate or visual recording were also serious offences.
Mrs Brown-Eyison gave the caution on Tuesday when the CSA in partnership with the Department of Children, corporate offices, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and development partners organised a forum to help validate the Child Online Protection (COP) Framework in Accra.
The COP Framework seeks to ensure secure, responsible and sustainable cyberspace, which will afford all stakeholders involved in protecting children’s rights online the necessary guidelines in their operations to ensure the participation, protection and promotion of digital literacy among children in Ghana.
Mrs Brown-Eyison bemoaned the non-cooperative nature of child victims whose nude pictures went viral online, including social media platforms for arresting and prosecution.
“Victims, especially girls of cybercrime contribute to the unsuccessful arrest and prosecution of perpetrators for protection of lovers for fear of being re-victimised.
“Don’t share nudes, love isn’t that complicated we advise, but sadly girls, especially in Basic and Senior High Schools are sharing nudes with their boyfriends and lesbian partners until it goes viral,” she noted.
Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Acting Director-General, CSA, said the exercise of protecting and educating children was not the sole responsibility of the government, but all, including parents and CSOs.
Government, he said, was only an enabler of implementations with policies, hence it was the duty of all well-meaning people to support the fight to protect children in the cyberspace.
“The problems are huge and if we make it a government issue, we are likely to come back at it again without getting substantial results. Readiness with frameworks and policies doesn’t mean we are immune to child threats. What is left is operationalisation,” he said.
Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Director, Department of Children, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said a study conducted by the Department showed that nine in 10 children had been on the internet before, either for information or fun.
She entreated CSOs to share data and information on child cybercrime with government to enable them to make it reflect in the national data and decision making.
She appealed to them to be cautious of the children they displayed on banners and posters on their social media platforms to propagate message on their core mandate as well as achievements to safeguard the children from future scrutiny.
Mrs Ayisi-Quartey said the framework would ensure that they educated children on the effects of being online to stay safe.
She advised parents to protect their children from surfing online while educating them not to entertain strangers online or engage others online about sex-related issues and pedophiles.
The forum had representatives from the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ghana National Education Coalition, Microsoft, Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana, AirtelTigo, UNESCO, UNFPA, Parent and Teacher Association, Ghana Girls Guide’ Association and Ministry of Education.