Children as young as six can access the internet and parents and grandparents don’t have a clue about it. Disgusting and psychologically damaging images are being sent to cell-phones, computers and pads daily and some may just pop up on your child’s or grandchildren’s device. It is a traumatic experience for anyone especially a child to see images of another child being sexually assaulted by an adult. Your child will have a radical change of relationship and perception of adults, their parents, and the world as a result. The innocent child will be psychologically assaulted, shocked, haunted, and damaged.
My recent article calling for new laws to curb child pornography everywhere and especially in the Philippines drew a letter of concern from Social Welfare Undersecretary Parisya H. Taradja. I claimed that the present laws are not being implemented to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to filter and block child pornography as mandated by RA9775.
The Undersecretary and millions more people have reason indeed to be concerned that child pornography is a worldwide phenomena and is uncontrolled and can be on the computer or cell phone of every child or adult without their consent. Every picture or image of a child being abused or even simulated violent rape images or videos cause children or women to be raped and abused somewhere in the world. The child is violated every time his or her image is viewed and passed on from one offender to another. The images stimulate more and more acts of abuse against children and women.
Parisya H. Taradji, Undersecretary for Operations and Programs group of the DSWD, when she read my column, advised me to contact the Inter-agency Council against Child Pornography (IACACP). (see the full article on http://www.preda.org). The IACACP is mandated by R.A. 9775 to monitor compliance and the implementation of Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009. God knows I spent many a long day with the legal team of former Senator Jamby Madrigal making suggestions to them and to the UNICEF legal expert assigned to help draft the law.
I lobbied successfully in particular for that provision in the law to compel internet service providers and telephone companies to install filters to block the access to child porn web sites and to block unwanted child porn pictures being downloaded into computers and cell phones.
But as far as I can find out, they do not comply with the law. The IACACP apparently knows this because it says on its website that as many as 20,000 illegal images of children being sexually abused are posted on-line every day. This is just an estimate but it shows that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not obeying or implementing the law. They can also check with the UK based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to have a check of Philippine internet providers. They are authorized to search for the child porn websites whereas citizens cannot do so legally.
Our friends at the IACACP, Director Paricia B. Luna of the Social Technology Bureau, the government officials, and NGO members of the IACACP like ECPAT and Stairways Foundation, have to get very serious and challenge and confront the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the ISPs with their violations of the law. They ought to pressure them to get the filters and remind them they could be aiding and abetting criminal acts by allowing free access to anyone, even children, to view child pornography. The images of child abuse is the driving force for some pedophiles to go out and rape and even murder children.
I wrote to Undersecretary Parisya H. Taradji in reply, “Preda cares for victims of sexual abuse in our children’s recovery homes and know from their terrible experience the devastating effect of abuse and child pornography that drives the abuser to commit heinous crimes.”
The Internet Watch Foundation in the UK is authorized to police the internet and access and search for child pornography legally, whereas we are not. If any internet service provider finds any such image, they are obliged by law to report it to IACACP agency. The server providers can block it themselves and report it to IWF. How many reports have there been?
I e-mailed a vice president of PLDT last week asking if he had any information about PLDT filters in place against child pornography and he replied he had no knowledge and asked another official, but we have no reply yet. I invite all ISPs to respond and inform the nation what they have done to protect children online and to curb child porn coming through their servers.
The law is the law and it must, for the sake of the nation, be respected and fully implemented for the children and the people.
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
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