House panel seeks stronger digital safety measures and online protection for children

Published January 28, 2022, 2:05 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives has moved strongly to ensure better online protection policy for children with the committee approval of a consolidated bill on the subject.

Rep. Yedda Romualdez1

Tingog Sinirangan Partylist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the House Committee on Welfare of Children, said the panel approved recently a substitute bill to strengthen the internet and digital content safety and online protection for children.

The bill also contains provisions of five legislative proposals authored by: Reps. Dan Fernandez (1st District, Laguna); Florida Robes (Lone District, San Jose del Monte City); Ruffy Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City); Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan) and Divina Grace Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur).

Romualdez said the legislative proposal will prohibit acts considered to be inimical to the online protection of children.

Among these acts are child sexual exploitation and abuse materials; creation of high risk viral challenge; cyberbullying; cyberstalking; cyber mob attack; online child trafficking; online impersonation; online grooming; online publication of child terrorist and violent extremism; recruitment and exploitation materials; online selling of non-essential materials, products and services harmful to the physical and psychological safety and well-being of children; and selling of intimate sexual images as well as streaming of child sexual abuse and exploitation, among others

“We have made a lot of progress from a very diverse proposal from our authors to this cohesive and comprehensive bill we have at hand,” Romualdez said.

While it contains features that would protect children from exploitation and abuse online, the bill also provides the need for minors to learn, explore and enjoy emerging technologies, explained Romualdez.

Fernandez explained that there is a need to pass a measure that will provide “strong and effective protections online” for children.

“Children and teens are at the epicenter of a pervasive-driven digital marketing system that is woven into the very fabric of their lives,” the Laguna solon pointed out.

In her bill, Yu noted that studies have indicated that too much exposure of children to sexually-themed and violent internet games and applications contribute to the rise in number of drop outs and computer gaming addicts among the youth.