/ 20 January 2021

NETWORK giant PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart banned a total of 3,011 websites believed to contain illicit materials related to online sexual exploitation of children.

PLDT-Smart said the move was based on the mandate of the National Telecommunications Commission to continue protecting Filipinos from Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children.

“The PLDT Group is also building up further the capacity of its network-based child protection platform and is currently testing additional technologies that would allow automatic blocking of end-user access to OSAEC or child pornographic content,” PLDT Group said in a statement.

Angel Redoble, chief information security officer of the ePLDT Group, said users who will attempt to open these blacklisted websites will automatically be redirected to a landing page informing them of the site’s violation of the country’s Anti-Child Pornography Law.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier raised concerns over a report broke by The Philippine Online Student Tambayan that some students held a “Christmas sale” of their lewd photos and videos on Twitter to raise money for their online classes needs.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered NTC to impose sanctions on Internet Service Providers that allow their services to be used for online child exploitation.

Duterte said he adopted the recommendations of the Department of Justice to curb illicit activities related to online sexual exploitation.

Meanwhile, Redoble said the PLDT Group is also expanding its intelligence sources on domains with identified OSAEC content to further protect children from malicious content.

He said that they are seeking membership with the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation that will provide the company access to a “rich database” of web pages linked to child sexual abuse.

“With the completion of this IWF membership in the first quarter of 2021, we look forward to contributing more to multisectoral efforts to end this crime against our children,” Redoble said.

The PLDT Group has also rolled out its own Child Safeguarding Policy, made in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Amid the shift to blended learning and heightened exposure of children to the internet during the Covid19 pandemic, Smart has worked with UNICEF, the Department of Education, and the National Privacy Commission in rolling out its “CyberSmart: Cybersecurity Beyond Digital learning series in 2020.”

“The program provided students with information on how to safeguard their digital presence. Smart is also expanding its support to community-based programs with the aim of eliminating OSAEC in the country,” PLDT Group said.