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Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE Cambodia) and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) in collaboration with the Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC) and Cambodian Red Cross celebrated Safer Internet Day 2023 with the support of the national government and private companies, aiming to raise awareness of internet safety among relevant stakeholders, including children, adolescents, parents, teachers, educators, social workers, ISPs, lawmakers and policymakers, and to encourage their active involvement in making the internet better and safer for everyone, especially children.

The Safer Internet Day campaign was held under the high presidency of H.E. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and Permanent Vice President of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, under the theme “Let’s talk about internet safety with our children”, with the participation of 1,200 people, including senior government officials, representatives of government ministries and sub-national branches from 25 provinces and the municipality, law enforcement officers, school principals, teachers, representatives of the Cambodian Red Cross, United Nations representatives in Cambodia, staff of national and international NGOs, journalists, online content producers, telecommunications service operators, children, and youth.

Mr. Samleang Seila, Executive Director of APLE, said, “This year’s celebration of Safer Internet Day has shown a significant increase in attention of all parties involved in protecting children from the dangers posed by digital technology.” He further said that children and young people should be encouraged to embrace digital technology, but they should also be educated about internet safety to ensure they are protected, empowered, and respected online. Through this campaign, he hopes that online safety conversations will begin to spread more widely in families, schools, communities, and governments.

H.E. Chou Bun Eng said that at present, digital technology in Cambodia is constantly evolving and provides many benefits to the promotion and acceleration of economic and social growth. However, it is also being used by some people for illicit purposes, such as human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and fraud. She also reminded children to be aware of online risks.

The Royal Government of Cambodia officials present at the campaign expressed their strong support for the celebration of Safer Internet Day and encouraged this campaign to be held every year and more widely in Cambodia.

The celebration of Safer Internet Day also aims to emphasize that an effective response to online risks and dangers to children requires the full participation of all parties and to disrupt these harms, we need to start talking about the problem and educating our children about safety measures.

Ms. Chem Srey Oeun, Head of Corporate Affairs at Smart Axiata, who participated in the roundtable discussion during the campaign, said, “As Cambodia’s leading telecommunications company and a pioneer of digital lifestyles, Smart has always focused on the safety and wellbeing of the society we are living in. While digital technologies offer many socio-economic benefits, there are severe consequences if not used and monitored properly. The consequences are especially dire among vulnerable people and children. We recognize our role in remedying this situation, and we are committed to working with the Royal Government of Cambodia and relevant stakeholders to enhance online safety for everyone.”

The involvement of technology companies in preventing and responding to online risks is significant, and industry plays an important role in making the internet better and safer for users.

Ms. Tan Sodany, Director of the ICT Policy Department at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, said that the ministry is stepping up cooperation with local and foreign technology companies to ensure that technology products and services take child safety into account and provide a conducive environment to avoid online risks. Equally important is that all stakeholders should help children become “good digital citizens” with the knowledge and ability to protect themselves.

It should be noted that Safer Internet Day was first held on February 6, 2004, by 14 countries (13 countries in Europe and Australia) through the coordination of the network of partner organizations of the school network in the European Union (EUN Partnership) on behalf of the European Commission. The campaign has expanded its reach in the EU and other countries and has received increasing support year after year. To date, the day has become a major global landmark, with more than 200 countries and territories around the world celebrating each year.

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