Telcos report actions vs online sexual abuse and exploitation of children

Published February 9, 2021, 5:20 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

As the world celebrates Safer Internet Day today (February 9, 2021), local telcos report on how they battled the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).

PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. disclosed they invested P2 billion this year in their advanced cybersecurity operations center which blocked 3,020 domains linked to child porn.

Globe Telecom Inc. likewise ramped up its initiative against OSAEC which surged during the lockdown.

 “As a company whose business is connecting many Filipinos to the internet, Globe sees paramount importance in keeping its customers, particularly children, safe online,” stressed Yoly Crisanto, Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications.

 “This is where we predict, prevent, detect, and respond to all types of cyber threats including online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC),” explained Angel Redoble, FVP and Chief Information Security Officer of PLDT, Smart and ePLDT.  

 “We expanded our sources on these illegal sites so we can block as many domains as possible,” added Francisco Ashley Acedillo, Smart AVP and Chief Strategy Officer of the Cybersecurity Operations Group.  

“We’ve been doing open-source threat intelligence gathering, purchasing available commercial threat intelligence and receiving information from our government through law enforcement agencies on which sites to block,” he elaborated.

Significantly, PLDT and Smart are digging deeper – bringing the fight against OSAEC to the content level. 

The challenge is to block access to a specific material without restricting access to the legitimate website where it was uploaded.  

Crucial to this platform is PLDT and Smart’s membership with the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – a leading international non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating online child abuse content. 

Globe also partnered with a global organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to campaign for responsible online behavior.

Aside from OSAEC reporting and education, Globe also advocates responsible online behavior and overall online wellness.

Its Digital Thumbprint Program, (DTP) launched in 2016,  focuses on responsible digital citizenship, critical thinking, and prevention of online abuse.

The DTP has been recently integrated into the K-to-12 curriculum of the Department of Education (DepEd), educating public and private school teachers and students on proper online behavior. 

At least 4,101 schools, 115,394 teachers, and 1.96 million students nationwide have accessed Globe’s cyber wellness program 

The program has also become a venue for Globe volunteer trainers who shared their knowledge about the proper way of using the internet so that the youth can protect themselves against criminal elements online.

Globe’s #SeeYouTomorrow campaign, on the other hand, encourages millions of Filipinos battling depression to seek assistance by calling HOPELINE -a 24/7 mental health hotline.

Hopeline, which is toll-free for Globe and TM subscribers, has received the most inquiries in 2020 more than previous years. 

Furthermore, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Cybercrime noted a 260 percent jump in cyber tips for online sharing, re-sharing, and selling of child sexual abuse images and videos immediately after the lockdown.

Last December, Globe also  partnered with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to promote digital responsibility and data privacy among the Filipino youth through “Kabataang Digital.” 

The program provides age-appropriate support for children, helping them understand the nature of privacy and the digital environment’s implications on their privacy rights.