PLDT-Smart says cybercrime, data privacy laws need to align vs online child porn

Nika Lazo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2021 05:30 PM

PLDT-Smart says cybercrime, data privacy laws need to align vs online child porn 1

MANILA - PLDT-Smart is calling on lawmakers to harmonize "conflicting provisions" in the country's cybersecurity and data privacy laws to strengthen the crackdown on online child pornography.

Ace Acedillo, PLDT-Smart head and AVP of cybersecurity operations, said the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and local telco companies both have their "hands tied" on monitoring the web to crack down "objectionable content" or illegal pornographic content due to provisions of Data Privacy Act.

Data Privacy Act or RA 10173 prohibits the monitoring of data and information of individuals online, posing challenges in enforcing the Anti-Child Pornography Act and Cybercrime Prevention Act.

"We have our law that forbids telcos like us to either intercept or mess with data or monitor what the customer is surfing. We don't have such protection here in the Philippines," Acedillo said.

He said there should be harmonization of these laws in the Philippines, and adding "Good Samaritan provisions" for NTC and telco firms to regulate online pornographic content faster.

Acedillo added that PLDT-Smart is also working with a British intelligence agency to do joint training, and conduct a behavioral analysis of online activities

He hopes to expand partnerships not just with the British, but also with other countries in the West as most of the demand comes from these countries.

The Philippines is found to be one of the world's major sources of child pornography.

At present, PLDT-Smart blocked over 3,000 sites that host illicit child porn content and said they are focusing on tracking down pornographic content or objects in legitimate domains or websites.

The telco said they have developed a "child protection platform" -- where subscribers will be redirected when trying to access pornographic content on a website.

Once redirected, the platform will flash a message saying that they are trying to access content violating the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

Angel Redoble, Chief Information Security Officer of the PLDT Group, said they have a three-year spending program from 2019 to 2021 to combat cyberthreats like child porn.

For cyberthreat operations, PLDT-Smart spent P1 billion in capital and P800 million in operations in 2019, P1.5 billion each in capital and operations in 2020. The company said it will spend less this year on capital but will hike its budget for operations to P2 billion.

Acedillo said the company is adopting a "three-pronged approach" to fight cybercrime, which includes:

  • strengthening legislative and policy framework by gathering experts to contribute to policy-making
  • expanding the number of cybersecurity practitioners through capital building and training
  • raising awareness of the public via campaigns, webinars and other initiatives

Redoble warned parents to monitor their kids' online activities especially during and after online learning.

He also warned parents not to post photos of their children on social media as perverts and pedophiles "are always looking for kids" online.

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