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Online Protection of Children: Cameroon’s New Law Ensures Safe Internet Usage

Online Protection of Children: Cameroon’s New Law Ensures Safe Internet Usage

Table of Contents

With the rapid penetration of the internet in Cameroon, coupled with ease of its access by every segment of the population, it became paramount to consider the safety of children as they navigate the internet space. With this concern in mind, the Cameroonian legislators voted for, and the President of the Republic enacted Law no 2023/009 on July 25, 2023, creating a legal framework to protect its most vulnerable population segment, “Children as they experience the beauty of services offered by online services providers.

Scope and Key Players

The primary goal of this law is to establish a favorable environment where children can safely use the Internet for the purpose of learning, personal development, and growth. To this end, the law targets the main actors in the digital landscape who play a key role in shaping children’s digital experience. The main actors identified in this law are:

  • Internet access providers;
  • Internet access providers;
  • digital content providers;
  • social network platform providers;
  • search engine providers;
  • cybercafé managers;
  • data controllers;
  • online advertisers;
  • electronic communication network operators;
  • information system operators;
  • audiovisual communication operators; and
  • promoters of online games and bets.

Key Obligations

To uphold the dignity and integrity of children as they navigate online cyberspace, this Law sets out key obligations for the above-identified actors, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • At the request of competent authorities, suspend internet access for users responsible for content offensive to the dignity and integrity of children;
  • At the request of competent authorities, suspend access to digital content that violates the dignity of children;
  • At the request of competent authorities, suspend user access for posting content offensive to the dignity and integrity of children;
  • At the request of competent authorities, cease indexing content offensive to the dignity and integrity of children;
  • Block and report sites hosting content offensive to the dignity and integrity of children;
  • Sensitize users by providing guidelines on online best practices and content that undermines children’s well-being;
  • Put in place mechanisms for reporting, blocking, and swiftly removing harmful/offensive content;
  • Collaborate with regulatory bodies and security services to report offensive content;
  • Offer parental control tools to regulate children’s internet access;
  • Assume responsibility for posted content that undermines children’s well-being;
  • Please describe the nature of the content, and their target audience, and implement privacy settings

Sanctions and Consequences

For a safe and enjoyable digital experience for children, the law outlines a range of sanctions for violations, requiring strict compliance. These sanctions, which often are substantial fines, are categorized according to the severity of the offense. The violations are mainly of three categories, allowing offensive content to flourish, obstructing regulatory devices, and various forms of harmful online engagement with children.

Conclusion

This pioneer legislation represents a decisive step towards securing a safe digital experience for children in Cameroon. By placing specific obligations on identified stakeholders in the online ecosystem, the law aspires to create an environment where children can harness the immense potential of the internet while being shielded from its dangers. This commitment to safeguarding the younger generation reflects the nation’s dedication to their growth, well-being, and future. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, such measures stand as a beacon of progress for a safe online space.

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Epanty Mbanda

Attorney-at-law | Corporate-Commercial | Technology (FinTech+Blockchain+Cryptocurrency) | Securities | Tax| Managing Partner at 4M Legal and Tax ( Law Firm in Cameroon)

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