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NCIS Launches a Range of Community Activities
Committee Determined to Make the Internet Safer for Everyone in Qatar
Making Qatar cyber safe has become a community-wide endeavor thanks to the work of the National Committee for Internet Safety (NCIS). Officially launched in February 2012, members of the NCIS have been working on a range of initiatives to promote the safe and responsible use of the Internet by everyone, especially children.
“Keeping people safe on the Internet truly takes support from the entire community. More people are taking advantage of the tremendous benefits of the Internet to improve their work and personal lives, and as we increase our usage, we must also increase our focus on safety and security. NCIS is focusing on bringing programs and initiatives on cyber safety directly to the community so as many people as possible will be empowered to be safe online, and then pass those skills onto their friends and family,” said Fatma Al-Noaimi, Cyber Safety Section Manager at the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR).
A majority of NCIS’s efforts over its first months have been focused on students, teachers and parents. One such initiative was conducted in partnership with the Supreme Education Council (SEC). The SEC adopted a pilot cyber safety learning program in its schools for grades 5, 8 and 10. The program included trainings for parents and teachers, as well as a comprehensive curriculum for students on cyber safety. The program was held in 12 independent schools, and based on its overall success, there are plans to expand it to more schools in the coming year. Additionally, 20 independent school IT technicians took part in a workshop hosted by ictQATAR that addressed the technical aspects of cyber safety and security.
The Supreme Education Council (SEC), worked to raise students’ awareness about Cyber Safety topics by integrated Cyber Safety within the framework of their Value Education initiative. Cyber Safety was also included among the topics proposed for the Fourth Annual Research Fair. 28 (out of 114) research studies related to ICT and Cyber Safety were presented. One of the main winning research studies was about Cyber Safety.
Qatar University conducted seminars for social psychology students on Cyberbullying. Qatar University organized two discussion panels run by students of Qatar University where they discussed issues related to Cyber Safety and made recommendations for action by the NCIS.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI), through its Juvenile and Community Police Departments, has also conducted numerous workshops and lectures on cyber safety in schools, covering topics including digital rights, responsible use of technology, Internet crimes and information privacy. Cyber safety was also a central theme of MOI’s annual event for Community Protection, which was held in early March and attended by nearly 500 preparatory and secondary students.
In addition to the variety of school-focused efforts, NCIS has also launched a general awareness campaign that includes a regular program on Qatar’s Quran Radio that has already addresses cyber bullying, privacy, online fraud, Internet addiction, e-commerce and online rumors. A number of print publications and advertisements were also developed that will be rolled out over the coming months.
The NCIS has already established three working committees to focus their efforts. One committee is working on family issues, specifically building awareness among children and parents. The second committee is examining content management, focusing on how the content industry can help support online safety. The third committee looks at Internet safety from the legal perspective, offering guidance and recommendations on any legislation or policies that could be adopted to enhance cyber safety in the country.
The National Committee for Internet Safety goal is to help create a safer online environment in Qatar by raising awareness about Internet safety issues and improving online safety education. The NCIS was formed with the support of ictQATAR and includes representatives from the government, key industries, law enforcement, academia, non-governmental organizations, parents and local youth. The organizations that have representative members on the NCIS include the ictQATAR, Q-CERT, the Ministry of Awqaf, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, Family Consulting Center, the Supreme Education Council, QTel, Vodafone Qatar, the Peninsula, Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking, Qatar Foundation for Child and Women Protection, Social Rehabilitation Centre, Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar and Qatar University.