Regulatory board eyed for internet games

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2022 09:46 PM

A gamer in one of the stands during CONQuest 2022  ABS-CBN News/File
A gamer in one of the stands during CONQuest 2022 on July 24, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A lawmaker has filed a bill seeking the formation of a regulatory body tasked to review games that will be installed in Internet shops or made available online to the public. 

The "Internet Games Review and Classification Act" or House Bill 3112 - if enacted into law - will form an Internet Games Review and Classification Board (IGRCB) mandated to review and classify online video games "according to age-suitability and appropriateness." 

In her explanatory note, the author, Nueva Ecija 3rd District Representative Rosanna Vergara seeks to minimize the youth's exposure to "more violent" games, citing the "enormous expansion" of the gaming industry. 

Under the bill, internet service providers must submit a list of games to be reviewed and classified by the board. 

"No internet game shall be made available to the public without such prior review and classification," the bill read. 

Should it become a law, Internet cafe operators will have to register with the proposed IGRCB, which will in turn be a pre-requisite to register for a business permit. 

Internet cafe operators will be barred from giving access to games that have yet to be reviewed by the board under the bill. Likewise, establishments should also make sure that the titles will not be available to age-inappropriate audiences. 

Fines ranging from P50,000 to P300,000 and imprisonment of 3 months to a year await violators, according to House Bill 3112. Additionally, violating internet cafes will have their licenses revoked. 

The board will be attached to the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and will coordinate and will work with DICT, the Department of Justice, Department of Education, among others to form its implementing rules and regulations (IRR.) 

The proposed IGRCB will have the power to 1) Seek assistance from government offices and stakeholders of the online gaming industry in implementing decisions related to the bill 2) Punish perpetrators of any related violations and 3) classify games into age-appropriate categories "with reference to local and international standards," among others. 

The proposed body's chairperson will be a presidential appointee. And the chairperson and their members should either be: 

  1. An information technology expert or anyone who has been part of the information technology and business sector "for at least 5 years"; 
  2. A child psychologist and; 
  3. A member of the Philippine Bar