Telcos block 5,532 sites to combat child abuse

Published January 14, 2021, 9:17 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Local telcos have blocked a total of 5,532 sites to date as they heed the government’s call to combat online child abuse and pornography.

Globe Telecom Inc. announced Tuesday night, Jan. 13, it has blocked 2,521 sites to comply with the government’s directive.

For their part, PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) took down 3,011 sites that host illicit content featuring children.

Under the law, all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to install available technology, program or software to block child pornography.

To comply with the law, Globe earlier invested in a USD$2.7 million content-filtering system to support its “PlayItRight” advocacy program versus illegal and pirated content as well as online child pornography.

“The filtering software can be viewed as an important first step but more needs to be done,” warned Anton Bonifacio, Globe Chief Information Security Officer.
“The digital ecosystem has evolved rapidly and ISPs cannot win this battle alone,” he pointed out.

The illegal sites are generally not inside or hosted in the ISP’s servers, just as much as Facebook, YouTube, or Google isn’t.

They are usually hosted in the cloud, or off-shore servers, and fully encrypted, which limits the effectiveness of the ISPs content-based filters.

Over 80 per cent of the Internet is now served through Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.
“In effect, we have a very limited view of the content unless we break the encryption, which would be difficult to do without being intrusive to our customer’s devices,” Bonifacio explained.

In addition, these illicit activities use various popular social media platforms to make their content readily accessible.

According to UNICEF, one of the popular platforms being used for these types of content is Tiktok.

These are easily accessible and shareable to others, and impossible to block without blocking the entire platform completely.

The only way to curb this content at these types of platforms is for the government to also pressure social media platforms or content providers to stop delivering this type of content to consumers.