Gov’t to impose stiff penalties on ISPs that fail to to stop online child porn

Published January 12, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Concerned by the “disturbing” surge in online child pornography, the government has pushed for the imposition of sanctions against internet service providers (ISPs) that fail to clamp down on such abuse.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, President Duterte and the Cabinet have approved the recommendations of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to intensify the fight against online child pornography, including directing the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to penalize erring ISPs.

The intensified campaign against online sexual abuse of children was discussed during a Cabinet meeting convened by the President in Malacañang on Monday night.

“Various reports that reveal a surge in child pornography have caught the President’s attention which is why he asked the Department of Justice to brief the Cabinet on the matter as well as recommend actions to address the online sexual exposition of minors,” Nograles said during a televised briefing on Tuesday.

Nograles said transaction reports related to online sexual exploitation have more than doubled. The reports have jumped to 47,937 in 2020, from 19,000 in 2019.

“To address this, the government is adopting the recommendations of the Department of Justice,” he said.

He said they approved the DOJ recommendation “to direct the NTC to immediately impose sanctions on internet service providers for failure to perform their duties” under Republic Act No. 9775, the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.

“These duties, may we remind the ISPs, include immediately notifying the PNP (Philippine National Police) or NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) within seven days of knowledge thereof that its server or facility is being used for child pornography; preserving evidence for purpose of investigation and prosecution; furnishing particulars of users involved in child pornography; and most importantly for the ISPs, installing available technology to intercept or block immediately access to child porn,” he added.

Under the RA 9775, any ISP that fails to comply with its duties will suffer a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million for the first offense. A subsequent offense will be penalized with a fine between P1 million and P2 million as well as revocation of its license to operate.

“If you want to stamp out child pornography in the country, I think we have to start with our ISPs. So ISPs, you are duly served notice with your obligations under RA 9775. And the NTC is hereby instructed to do your duty as (far as) any violations are concerned,” he said.

Nograles said the government has discovered that the pandemic has “contributed to or even been used or taken advantage of” amid the “disturbing rise” of sexual exploitation cases in the country. The victims have a median age of only 11 years old.

“Nakakabahala po ang numero (The numbers are worrying),” he said.

Apart from seeking penalties against ISPs, Nograles said the government backed the DOJ recommendation to issue an executive order to pave the way for stronger cooperation between the inter-agency council against trafficking (IACAT) and other state agencies.

He said they also appealed to Congress to prioritize the passage of bills, including amendment to the anti-trafficking law, to exempt traffickers from the anti-wiretapping law.

They also sought to broaden members of the IACT and boost its funding as well as impose obligations on ISPs and tourism establishments to “destroy” child pornography.

“Hindi hahayaan ng gobyerno na madagdagan pa ang biktima ng sexual exploitation sa gitna ng kinakaharap nating pandemya (The government will not allow more to become victims of sexual exploitation in the middle of the pandemic),” he said.

The Department of Education had earlier said it was looking into reports that some students have resorted to selling their photos and videos online to support their education.

 
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