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Bahrain fighting the paedophiles.

Byline: MANDEEP SINGH

BAHRAIN is leading the charge against paedophiles who prey on the region's children via the Internet.

It is staging a conference it hopes will be the "spark that triggers a revolution" in Internet safety for the region's children.

Children in Bahrain and the GCC are easy prey for paedophiles and other cyber criminals, because so little is done to ensure their safety online, say experts.

But all that could change with better education and co-operation, says Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) European region director David Miles.

He was speaking during a Press conference at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) offices in Seef to announce the first Internet Child Safety Conference, taking place in Bahrain next month.

The event, from January 18 to 20, is being organised by the TRA in partnership with FOSI, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

"The conference is open to anyone with an interest in the safety of children on the web (including Internet service providers, telephone companies, non-governmental organisations, charities, regulators, government departments and the public) and plans to discuss global internet safety and online child protection initiatives of the past few years," said Mr Miles.

"FOSI works to make the online world safer for children and their families by identifying and promoting best practice, tools and methods in the field of online safety, that also respect free expression.

"We do this through the development of public policy, technology, education and special events."

Mr Miles said FOSI was a trusted convenor, bringing together leaders in government, industry and the non-profit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions in child safety.

"The most important thing in this drive is that we need to talk to our children.

"The sooner that happens, the better chances there will be for action to be taken," he said.

TRA information communication technology (ICT) adviser on Internet security Nick Truman said there was a literary gap in Bahrain that had to be filled.

"We have to have an interaction between the Internet service providers (ISPs) and the government agencies, for any tangible action to be taken," he said.

"The process has started, but it is not an overnight journey. The issue will take a while to come into place.

"That is why we are holding this conference."

TRA deputy general director Rob Middlehurst said they had secured an outstanding selection of regional and globally recognised experts in the fields of information communications technology (ICT) literacy, safety and security to be present at the event.

"There will also be exhibitions from some of the world's leading software and hardware vendors during the three-day show," he said.

Participants will be able to collectively understand what can be achieved and, where relevant, implement those systems and processes in Bahrain, by examining initiatives that are already active across the world.

"However, the TRA cannot do this without the buy-in and co-operation of all stakeholders, including industry and NGOs, so it is imperative to attend the conference in order to see how an organisation can help to make this happen," said Mr Middlehurst.

Several significant announcements will be made at the conference, including one on the TRA's review of the systems that are currently in place to help protect Bahrain's children online.

"This will not just focus on children's use of the Internet, but the whole support infrastructure around its use, abuse and what happens when things go wrong," he said.

At the closing ceremony, the TRA will ask Bahrain's ISPs to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to implement the conference's recommendations and foster a new era in ICT and child internet safety in Bahrain.

"Our goal is to ensure this conference is the one that everyone remembers as the spark that triggered the online safety and corporate social responsibility revolution in the Middle East," said Mr Middlehurt.

mandeep@gdn.com.bh

Copyright 2009 Gulf Daily News

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Dec 14, 2009
Words:652
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