Blog: Leadership in Child Online Protection

Millicom's lead specialists regularly report on important changes taking place within their own areas of expertise. Here, our Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Milka Pietikainen, describes the important work being done on child online protection, both for Millicom and the telecom industry in general.

>COP Press Release (Spanish)

>COP Press Release (English) 

September 2015: This month, a series of conferences on Child Online Protection in Latin America take place to promote every child’s right to privacy, freedom of thought, and personal safety on the internet.

The events, jointly hosted by Unicef with Millicom through its Tigo operations in El Salvador and Costa Rica, aim to raise public awareness of the risks children may face online, with participation from the mobile industry association GSMA, and established non-government organisations such as Oxfam and Save the Children.

The success of previous Child Online Protection events in three other Tigo operations – Paraguay, Bolivia and Rwanda - have so far been instrumental in building awareness of the issue with the public, government and businesses.

A Child Online Protection workshop hosted by Tigo Paraguay in October 2014 was the first of its kind in the region.

“As a leading Digital Lifestyle business in emerging markets, we lead the adoption of internet; and as access to the internet opens up so many positive opportunities for children, there is also a clear demand from our customers, as parents and teachers, to get support on child safety online and to take all measures to protect their children from harm.” Milka Pietikainen, Vice President, CR.

With access to internet from an early age, young people are facing issues that are new to their generation, from cyber-bullying to identity theft, misleading marketing using their personal information, and possibilities to create their own content which may expose their privacy and their reputation.

What UNICEF and Millicom aim to achieve this month in El Salvador (17-18 September) and Costa Rica (20-21 September) by bringing together the press, members of the public, government delegates, child rights organisations, industry leaders, as well as children themselves, is a shared commitment to build safer environments online.

The UNICEF and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection serves as a useful framework towards this.

Millicom is uniquely placed within the telecommunications sector to respond to the increasing dangers that children encounter when they go online.

As we focus on emerging markets, we are building a digital future for customers and for society, while monetizing our growth for investors.

We want our customers to feel empowered to step into the digital future and to offer their children a safe online environment.

Strong and close relationships that we have built over the past 25 years with key stakeholders in countries where we operate allow us to build joint initiatives that take a holistic and long-term view to child rights that are relevant to our sector.

When we were invited earlier this month to take part in the Global Child Forum (GCF) in Pretoria, South Africa, we were proud to be one of three companies singled out by the event organizers for our business-centered approach to children’s rights.

The GCF underlined in its research that since 2012, Millicom has been working with Unicef on developing and piloting tools to protect children online, and that in December 2014 we signed a formal three-year alliance with Unicef to develop universal tools for child rights impact assessment.

With these tools, we are more easily able to identify areas where children may be affected by our everyday operations, not just when they go online.

The Millicom / Unicef alliance seeks to:

  • Map the risks to and opportunities for children’s rights in the telecommunication sector and in specific operational settings
  • Develop and promote industry-specific guidance on how the telecommunication sector can improve respect for children’s rights, specifically through implementing the Children’s Rights and Business Principles and
  • Develop case studies on lessons learned in implementing the Children’s Rights and Business Principles and the Unicef and ITU Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection.

As more and more of our customers come online, we consider Child Online Protection an essential part of doing business.

We see connecting young people to the internet as essential to their development, self-expression and civic participation.

We are committed to work with educators and child rights organisations to build awareness and protect children from the potential risks attached, as well as to take a leading role in shaping the mobile telecommunications industry as a whole to get involved and keep young people safe.