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PLDT-Smart says cybercrime, data privacy laws need to align vs online child porn

MANILA – PLDT-Smart is asking lawmakers to harmonize “conflicting provisions” in the country’s cybersecurity and data privacy laws to strengthen the crackdown on online child pornography.

Ace Acedillo, head of PLDT-Smart and AVP for cybersecurity operations, said the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and local telecommunications companies are “hands on” in monitoring the web to crack down on “objectionable content” or content illegal pornography due to provisions of the Data Privacy Act.

The Data Privacy Act or RA 10173 prohibits the monitoring of data and information from individuals online, presenting challenges in the application of the Child Anti-Pornography Law and the Cyber ​​Crime Prevention Law.

“We have our law that prohibits telecommunications companies like us from intercepting or messing up data or monitoring what the customer is browsing. We don’t have that protection here in the Philippines, ”said Acedillo.

He said there should be harmonization of these laws in the Philippines, and adding “Good Samaritan provisions” for NTC and telecommunications companies to regulate online pornographic content more quickly.

Acedillo added that PLDT-Smart is also working with a British intelligence agency to conduct joint training and conduct behavioral analysis of online activities.

He hopes to expand partnerships not only with the British, but also with other Western countries, since most of the demand comes from these countries.

The Philippines is one of the world’s largest sources of child pornography.

At the moment, PLDT-Smart has blocked more than 3,000 sites hosting illicit child pornography content and said it is focusing on crawling pornographic content or objects on legitimate domains or sites.

Telco said it has developed a “child protection platform” – where subscribers will be redirected when trying to access pornographic content on a website.

Once redirected, the platform displays a message saying that they are trying to access content that violates the Child Antipornography Act.

Angel Redoble, Director of Information Security for the PLDT Group, said they have a three-year spending program from 2019 to 2021 to combat cyber threats like child pornography.

For cyber threat operations, PLDT-Smart spent P1 billion in capital and P800 million in operations in 2019, P1.5 billion each in capital and operations in 2020. The company said it will spend less this year on capital, but will increase its budget for operations to P2 billion.

Acedillo said the company is taking a “three-pronged approach” to combat cyber crime, which includes:

  • strengthening legislative and policy framework by gathering experts to contribute to policy-making
  • expanding the number of cybersecurity practitioners through capital building and training
  • raising awareness of the public via campaigns, webinars and other initiatives

Redoble asked parents to monitor their children’s online activities, especially during and after online learning.

He also warned parents not to post pictures of their children on social media, as perverts and pedophiles “are always looking for children” online.

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