Can President Duterte Make the ISPs Obey the Law?
Fr. Shay Cullen
15 January 2021
The massive increase in child sexual abuse videos and images transmitted online over the internet passing through the servers of the Internet service providers (ISPs)- Globe Telecom and PLDT /Smart- has increased from 19,000 in 2019 to 47,937 in 2020 as the result of the lockdown. This is according to the Philippine government Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles speaking for President Rodrigo Duterte.
The child pornography and on-line live streaming of sex acts on Filipino children are continuous horrific heinous crimes as some victims are as young as three years old, among the many thousands sexually abused.
The ISPs and telecommunication corporations have ignored the provision of the 2009 Anti-Child Pornography Law or Republic Act 7995, specifically Section 9 that this writer helped draft and lobbied for strict implementation ever since as published in The Manila Times (The Sunday Times) on many occasions.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet, in a joint meeting, have issued an order to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to slap sanctions on the telecommunications corporations for non-compliance with the law. This writer has called for penalties against the ISPs and recommended one million pesos a day sanction on each ISP until they show proof that they are complying with the law. Presently, they allegedly escape compliance and agree to pay a small fine rather than obey the law and install blocking software to intercept the child pornography and report it to the authorities as the law demands.
These are the most powerful corporations in the Philippines, not only for financial power, but technological power. They can defy even the government of President Duterte as they are doing at present. In an instant, they can paralyze the nation by cutting off Internet connections and crippling the social media upon which millions depend including the government and the entire economy. We will now campaign through non-government organizations in other countries to pressure their telecommunication corporations to reconsider their partnership with Philippine ISPs Globe Telecom and PLDT/Smart that are non-compliant with Section 9 of RA 9775.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, speaking for President Rodrigo Duterte said as quoted in the media, “All ISPs should also install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered, according to the law.” That is a powerful order for them to comply. But will they do it?
Who is top dog in this stand-off, which is the most powerful, President Rodrigo Duterte or the presidents and board members of the telecommunications corporations? Will President Duterte and his cabinet really stand strong and compel the ISPs to comply and install and monitor the blocking software?
The ISPs don’t want to do this as they fear losing hundreds of thousands of customers. What kind of evil business is it that is making money by allowing child abusers here and abroad access child pornography and allow child sexual abuse to live-stream through their servers? The arrogance of power knows no limit and the corporations have this kind of power. The software is easily available. Microsoft is just one corporation that can do it effectively using PhotoDNA and VideoDNA technology.
There is a growing movement to repeal section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of the USA that allows the ISPs NOT to be held responsible for what is posted on their servers and networks. After the attack on the Capitol Building in Washington DC driven by social media, that will now change.
The Philippine ISPs are fighting back against Section 9 of RA 9775. They are trying to get an amendment to RA 9775 through the proposed bill of Rizal Second District Rep. Fidel Nograles to members of congress under the guise of strengthening the RA 9775. He is proposing that the most important provision that requires the ISPs to install the child pornography blocking software BE REPEALED! Nograles has filed last year House Bill (HB) 7633 that seeks to remove Section 9 of RA 9775. That is a wrong and immoral proposal. Section 9 is the strongest provision of the law that aims to protect children from child sexual abusers. We can only presume that the ISPs are behind this bill.
Now that President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet has correctly come out to support the thousands of Filipino children being sexually abused on-line and in child pornography, that obnoxious bill will die the death it deserves. President Duterte should end his war-on-drugs having done all he can and start a new “war” against child pornography and on-line streaming of child sexual abuse, a true and noble endeavour.
His biggest challengers are the telecommunication corporations. Will he and his government have the courage and power to rise up to meet the ISPs’ arrogant stand of non- compliance with section 9 of RA 9775? Will he reform the NTC and appoint child-friendly defenders?
The question is, “Are the present officials following the command of the ISPs or following President Duterte and his cabinet?” There must be reform of the NTC and imposition of fines of a million pesos a day until compliance is done. Also, a strong legal action by the Department of Justice is needed to enforce the law.
Child defenders can campaign and appeal to the global telecommunication corporations that are in partnership with the Philippine telecommunication corporations to require the Philippines ISPs to be more ethical and lawful. These global companies exercise more corporate responsibility and higher ethical standards. They could decide not to renew contracts with the Philippine ISPs.
Hundreds of thousands of children could be protected and saved from the horrific abuse that they suffer to satisfy the lust and sexual desires of paedophiles and the profit of their enablers. The children are the most important of all in society. The role of governments is to protect the citizens and children are the most vulnerable and need strong action to save and protect them.
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