Court compels Facebook, YouTube to disclose who are behind 'Usapang Diskarte'

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2022 02:20 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2022 02:26 PM

WARNING: Sensitive content 

MANILA — A Manila court on Tuesday issued warrants to compel Facebook and YouTube to disclose who are behind the “Usapang Diskarte” accounts which allegedly committed online sexual abuse and exploitation of children on both social media platforms. 

Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 24 issued separate warrants for Google LLC/YouTube and Meta/Facebook, requiring them “to disclose or submit, within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of such order, relevant data in its possession or control.”

According to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG), these data include “subscriber information, chats, images and other content” that were posted on the accounts.

“Meta platforms and YouTube are ordered to disclose information dun sa identity po ng YouTube channel and Facebook accounts,” Police Lieutenant Chonalyn Sagun of the PNP ACG Women and Children Cybercrime Protection Unit (WCCPU) said, explaining that these information are crucial in the filing of charges in Philippine courts.

It was the PNP ACG’s Women and Children Cybercrime Protection Unit (WCCPU) which filed the application for the warrant on July 28.

PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group serves warrant to disclose computer data on Google/YouTube and Meta/Facebook through the DOJ Office of Cybercrime regarding the Usapang Diskarte accounts which provided tips on grooming women and children. Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News
PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group serves warrant to disclose computer data on Google/YouTube and Meta/Facebook through the DOJ Office of Cybercrime regarding the Usapang Diskarte accounts which provided tips on grooming women and children. Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Since both social media platforms are based in California in the United States, PNP ACG WCCPU personnel served the warrants on the DOJ Office of Cybercrime on Tuesday.

State Counsel Gerald Vincent Sosa of the DOJ Cybercrime office explained it acts as the central agency in serving cyber-related warrants on foreign entities.

“Nasa process ng serving ng cybercrime warrant yung office namin bilang central authority in all matters relating to international cooperation and extradition relating to cybercrime and cyber-related offenses. Kami ang nagse-serve sa mga foreign companies ng ating warrant,” he told reporters after filing the service of the warrant.

“Hindi dumidirekta yung ating mga law enforcement agency pag nakakuha sila ng warrant. Hindi sila mismo nagse-serve sa for example sa Facebook, sa YouTube,” he said.

(We serve our warrants on foreign companies. When they get a warrant, our law enforcement agencies are not the ones who serve it, for example, on Facebook, Youtube.) 

Sosa said both social media platforms are “very compliant” when it comes to cases involving child grooming or child pornography.

“Kapag may mga ganitong insidente agad naman po silang nagko-comply especially ganitong mga child sexual exploitation cases and terrorism,” he said.

(Whenever there are incidents like these, they comply immediately, especially on cases like child sexual exploitation cases and terrorism.)

In mid-July, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the YouTube channel “Usapang Diskarte” posted videos on how to groom a young girl and how to have sex with a child.

Usapang Diskarte’s YouTube channel had 252,000 subscribers before it was taken down, upon the request of the DOJ Cybercrime Office.

The issuance of the warrants comes a few days after the Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla declared a war on online sexual abuse of children during a Palace briefing.

He has sought the help of internet service providers (ISPs) and telcos.

Official data showed reports on online sexual exploitation rose to 47,937 in 2020 from 19,000 in 2019 amid quarantine restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Philippines has a law against child pornography passed in 2009 and this year, a bill against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) lapsed into law. 

The new law imposes heftier penalties and jail term.

Under the Anti-Child Pornography Act, ISPs are required to report to the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) within 7 days if any form of child pornography is being committed in their servers.

The Anti-OSAEC law shortens this reporting period to 48 hours and imposes the additional responsibilities of blocking these materials and putting in place default safety settings for children.

A violation of the requirements could mean a fine of between P500,000 and P1 million under the Anti-Child Pornography Act, while the new Anti-OSAEC law imposes a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to P2 million, both for the first offense.

DOJ Cybercrime office's Sosa said an inter-agency body is currently drafting the implementing rules and regulations of the Anti-OSAEC law.

He warned those behind online sexual abuse and exploitation, “Kung tingin ninyo safe kayo dahil yung pagko-conduct ninyo ng exploitation ng bata online lang, hindi kayo mahuhuli, mahuhuli at mahuhuli po kayo.” 

“Nandito kami para protektahan po ang mga bata at gagawin po namin ang makakaya namin para makulong po kayo,” he added.

(If you think you are safe because your exploitation of children is limited online, we will catch you. We are here to protect children and we will do everything we can to jail you.) 

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