Advertisement

Stricter penalties sought as child porn surges

The sharp increase in the incidence of child pornography and the accompanying spike in financial transactions related to it during the lockdowns imposed because of the pandemic, have prompted a first-term congressman to push for the enactment of a bill that imposes stricter penalties against the crime.

Monetary authorities earlier said they had detected an increase in financial transactions linked to the online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines in recent months.

The authorities blamed the economic difficulties caused by the lockdowns for the surge in the incidence of child pornography.

Due to the incidence of the abuse of children online, Deputy Majority Leader and Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles on Saturday pushed for the passage of a bill that strengthens the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9775 by resolving its conflicting provisions that have hampered information and communications technology service providers from effectively monitoring online purveyors of child pornography.

Nograles filed House Bill 7633, or the Anti-Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act of 2020, to amend Section 9 of RA 9775, that the Philippine Chamber of Telecom Operators said prevents its members from blocking child pornography websites.

“This is an urgent issue that the Congress must immediately address, and comes on the heels of reports of an unprecedented number of abuse cases during the lockdowns imposed due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic,” said Nograles, vice chair of the House committee on justice

Using data from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Department of Justice said that 279,166 cases of online child sex abuse had been tallied in the Philippines from March 1 to May 24, 2020, compared to 76,561 cases during the same period in 2019. 

Section 9 of RA 9775 allows Internet service providers to install software that could block access to and transmittal of child pornography and requires ISPs to notify authorities within seven days of detection of any Internet address that may contain child pornography.

However, the same provision also states that “nothing in this section may be construed to require an ISP to engage in the monitoring of any user, subscriber or customer or the content of any communication of any such person.”

“I believe this simple amendment would go a long way in empowering ICTSPs that are key partners in the anti-child pornography campaign so that they can nip instances of abuse at the bud,” Nograles, a Harvard-trained lawyer, said.

Under the bill, the first two paragraphs of Section 9 would read:

“Section 9. Duties of Information and Communication Technology Service Providers (ICTSP). – All Information and Communication Technology Service Providers (ICTSP) shall install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.

“All ICTSP shall notify the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) within seven (7) days from obtaining facts and circumstances that any form of child pornography is being committed or has been committed using its server or facility or platform. All ICTSP shall maintain the privacy of the data captured relevant to this section while complying with notification requirements of this section. Provided, That no ISP shall be held civilly liable for damages on account of any notice given in good faith in compliance with this section. Provided further that the data captured solely for complying to this Section shall be exempt from the application of the Data Privacy Act.”

A section that bars foreigners who have committed any sex-related offenses from entering the Philippines has also been added to the proposed measure.

“I call on my colleagues in the Congress to prioritize the passage of this bill.. We need to do more to protect our children from abuse,” Nograles said.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council in study also said the high threat level posed by child pornography-linked money-laundering on Philippine society was inadequately addressed by present financial safeguards and regulatory controls.

AMLAC reported a sharp increase in the number of suspicious transaction report submissions for March and May this, with 5,512 and 5,634 reports, respectively.” the report said.

During the same months last year, only 110 and 597 reports were sent to AMLAC.

Topics: child pornography , coronavirus pandemic , online sexual exploitation
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.
AdvertisementKPPI
Advertisement