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This report is the first known study of child online protection (COP) in Vanuatu. While conducting this study, no information could be found on the Internet about COP in Vanuatu as well as most other small Pacific island countries. The only information found were studies about COP in New Zealand and Australia, where the situations in regard to penetration rate and bandwidth as well as cultural and legal framework are different. Therefore, this report provides new knowledge and information on COP.
This study was conducted through the global ITU-EC-ACP project. It is a new project jointly funded by the European Commission (EC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for Capacity Building and ICT Policy, Regulatory and Legislative Frameworks for Pacific Island Countries (ICB4PAC).
This report is an assessment and analysis of the present situation of COP in Vanuatu. Under the same project similar assessments have been carried out in Niue, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu. The report gives a general background on COP, explains some of the main threats as well as strategies for prevention. This report concludes with an analysis of the findings and outlines policy implications that Vanuatu could consider.
The key driver for this report is to examine how students access the Internet and which risks they are facing. Taking into account that there is almost no data available regarding the number of victims of Cybercrime in Vanuatu, the report also helps to access the general situation with regards to Cybercrime victimization.
The assessment was carried out as a test only through a questionnaire with 14 multiple-choice questions. It was carried out in Central School. In total 294 students participated in the survey. In addition to carrying out the survey the students received basic trainings on Internet risks as well as protection strategies.
The assessment of the current situation related to COP and Cybercrime underlines that despite a comparably low Internet penetration rate of less than 10 per cent (based on World Bank Data), students in Vanuatu are intensively using the Internet. Almost 90 per cent of the students use the Internet with around 30 per cent of the students using the Internet daily. Facebook is among the most popular services with almost 50 per cent of the students using it.
Cybersecurity is a topic that the students are confronted with. Almost 60 per cent faced infection of ICT with malicious software. However, only 21 percent of the students reported that they use anti-virus software. When it comes to teaching security the school remains an important source of knowledge for students. One third of all students mentioned that they learned about Cybersecurity in school.
Students have been exposed to Cybercrime. Apart from computer viruses (see above) 15 per cent of the students in Vanuatu have been victim of Cyber bullying. Almost 10 per cent of students have been contacted by strangers online.
The questionnaire also contained a section dealing with illegal/inappropriate acts. Around 10 per cent of the students have stent mean/harmful messages which could be considered Cyber bullying. Around one third of the students tried or successfully broke into protected wireless networks.
The data collected through the survey enables the government of Vanuatu as well as schools in the country to better respond to the challenges of Child Online Protection.
- Knowledge about the services used by students allows the development of specific training courses that focus on those services that are most popular among students in Vanuatu. This will maximize the impact of such training. In order to avoid children becoming victims of security incidents/crimes (such as infection with malicious software, cyber bullying and grooming) the training includes prevention measures related to these offences.
- The assessment clearly underlines that people in Vanuatu are affected by Cybercrime. Infecting a computer system with malicious software goes along with the alteration of data on the affected computer system. This is an activity that is widely considered to be illegal (“illegal data interference”). 121 students have reported such incidents and are consequently most likely victims of a crime. This does not correspond with number of Cybercrime investigations. One of the main reasons is that victims of Cybercrime tend not to report such crime. Non of the students indicated that they contacted the police when they have been confronted with a potential crime.
- Based on the current legislation the infection of a computer with a computer virus is not criminalized. It it is uncertain if other potentially harming activities such as solicitation of children (“grooming”) and Cyber bullying are covered by applicable legal frameworks. This issue might require further investigations.