Malacañang last week ordered penalizing telecommunications firms for apparently failing to prevent the spread of sexual abuse of children online amid the pandemic.
The National Telecommunications Commission was ordered to “immediately impose sanctions on internet service providers (ISP) for failure to fulfill their duties under RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.”
Republic Act 9775 mandates ISPs—telcos—to inform police authorities within seven days upon the knowledge that a server was used for child pornography and to preserve such evidence. The law also requires ISPs to set up adequate defenses against pornography as a preventive measure.
Reported cases of online sexual abuse shot up from some 19,000 in 2019 to nearly 50,000 last year, according to Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles. He added that this was a source of concern as victims of the illicit activity had a median age of 11 years.
Nograles clarified that fines on the telco firms may go up to as high as P1 million for their first offense, while an ISP’s license may be revoked for the second offense.
In response, Globe Telecom said that it already has a working filtering system, and that they are the only ISP with such a system against such content. Yolanda Crisanto, their spokesperson, said: “We have been able to block this content only as allowed by law.”
PLDT, meanwhile, is aiming to replicate the system, which redirects internet users to a different website that the website accessed earlier violated laws. They also said that they had blocked 2,900 sites linked to online sexual exploitation.
The Executive department said that lawmakers needed to give government more authority under RA 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act) to effectively address the issue.
Photo by DARREN LANGIT