We were asked by Baroness Beeban Kidron, chair of 5Rights Foundation, to contribute data protection expertise to a five-year plan for the introduction of child online protection policy in Rwanda. The policy and its implementation had to align with Rwanda's economic ambitions while recognising the nation's distinct legal and cultural context.
"The Child Online Protection Policy anticipates a time in which all children in Rwanda are online. It embodies the need to ensure that they are empowered, protected and their rights promoted in the digital environment."
Page 19, Child Online Protection in Rwanda
WHAT WE DID
To create a five-year plan we reviewed Rwanda's existing rights and legislation, communications use and infrastructure, its technology industry ambitions and examined how data protection was regulated. This enabled us to understand the Rwandan data protection context.
Our proposed plans drew lessons from the introduction of regulations elsewhere. Where, without due care, new regulations can favour larger, more established, global companies while weakening the opportunities of smaller, local companies, disruptors and startups.
Within the five year implementation plan, we recommended that Rwanda introduce a data protection right followed by data protection regulations based on those of the EU. This included the recommendation for how children’s data should be specially protected and to introduce an age of consent for online services.
A five-year implementation plan for child online protection that includes the introduction of data protection rights and regulation in Rwanda. The Rwandan government formally adopted the policy in July 2019. Under the policy, the Rwandan government will establish high-level data protection rights and new data protection regulations with specific provisions for children.
As well as protecting children, the establishment of strong, GDPR-based data protection regulations better protects everyone in Rwanda by leveraging the EU's market power over large global technology companies, which are already required to comply with the EU's higher standards of data protection.
In establishing a globally compliant data protection regime, Rwanda not only asserts high standards for those wanting to enter the Rwandan market, it also helps Rwanda’s burgeoning tech industry to develop technology and services that appeal to global markets.
The report, Child Online Protection in Rwanda, is available here (PDF).