PLDT's challenge: Cracking down on child porn livestreaming

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2021 04:46 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA - PLDT Inc. has blocked 3,000 websites carrying child pornography but the bigger challenge now is cracking down on child pornography livestreams on various platforms, a PLDT executive said Friday. 

Angel Redoble, PLDT chief information security officer, said the company gathers information on incoming cyber threats, which also includes child pornography. 

He said that aside from child porn sites, PLDT is also focused on blocking child pornography content including photos and videos that are uploaded to legitimate websites. 

"Any subscriber trying to access this content will be redirected to a child protection platform...If the photo or video matches our filtering policy, then the user will be redirected to a page saying the content they are accessing is in violation of RA 9775 [Anti-Child Pornography Act]," he told ANC. 

In the interview, Redoble said blocking child pornography streamed live on various platform "is the most difficult scenario to address."

"When traffic goes through our infrastructure, it is all the same - all ones and zeroes. We cannot identify if the traffic is a video or photo. We don't do that kind of inspection," he said. 

He added: "The moment there is a video livestreaming coming from the Philippines...using publicly available platforms such as Facebook, Viber, Telegram, WhatsApp or whatever, the only thing we can do is work with the entities such as law enforcement."

Redoble said one way to check the content on a livestream without violating the Data Privacy Law is to do it via analytics "because we can identify where there are sustained huge amount of traffic."

Law enforcers can then check on these areas, he said. 

Watch more on iWantTFC
Watch more on iWantTFC

PLDT has also suggested a collaboration with law enforcers, other concerned government agencies, and non-government organizations to be able to trace perpetrators and bring them to the court.

Redoble said telcos were required to provide government with information "to identify where that user or subscriber is accessing child porn-related materials," but it cannot do so without impinging on the users' privacy.

"We cannot do that because we are not doing deep inspection on traffic coming from our subscribers. We do not know, we do not have any idea what picture you opened or what video you watched or what email content you sent because that’s obviously a privacy matter," he said. 

"As we have demonstrated, we are doing things that can address this without violating the laws. And if the laws can be cleared out and the conflicting provisions of the laws can be addressed, then the more PLDT can help in combatting child pornography," he added. 

According to Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles, transaction reports related to online sexual exploitation rose to 47,937 in 2020 from from 19,000 in 2019. The country imposed varying degrees of quarantine restrictions last year to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Duterte's Cabinet directed the National Telecommunications Commission to impose sanctions on internet service providers “for failure to fulfill their duty” under Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.