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20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

10.09.2020 Reflections by Fr. Shay Cullen, - Why the ISPs Don’t Save Children from Online Abuse

Thousands of innocent Filipino children are being sexually abused daily over the internet and the telecommunication corporations and the Internet Server Providers (ISPs) are responsible. They have failed to install blocking software on their servers since the passing of the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, otherwise known as RA 9775, until the present. The number of online child sexual abuse reports received by the Philippine government cybercrime office is staggering. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as reported by the media, there was an increase of 264.63 percent in the number of Filipino children sexually abused on the Internet from March to May this year. That was when the Coronavirus lock downs were on around the world. 

The cybercrime unit of the DOJ said that it received 279,166 reports of Filipino children being sexually abused over the Internet by pedophiles, up from 76,561 reports during the same period last year 2019. That massive number of child victims was exploited by pimps, child traffickers and parents. The abuse is possible and enabled by the telecommunication corporations and the Internet Server Providers (ISPs). They, too, make money from this dirty trade. The nations where most child abuse websites are, according to UNICEF, are The Netherlands, the United States, Canada, France, and the Russian Federation. However, on-line child abuse is everywhere and the other countries with huge child sexual abuse online crimes are Germany, Australia, Britain, Brazil, Pakistan and the Philippines. 

It is disgusting and the greatest shame on the Philippine nation. PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecom have a lot to answer for. It is a shocking crime of reckless negligence committed by these Internet Server Providers (ISPs). It is still going on as you read this and nothing is being done to stop it, only a “discussion” by the ISPs and Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete of the DOJ. In the meantime, the telecommunication corporations are raking in millions of dollars to their bank accounts and filling the pockets of their shameless and disgraced boards of directors. The child abuse continues as reports are still coming in from the international law enforcement agencies, investigators and monitoring non-government organizations.

In response to the media campaign of the Preda Foundation to challenge the ISPs, their only grudging, reluctant, miserable response through the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operations (PCTO ) is to say that they blocked 2,521 ]child pornography web sites at the behest of the Philippine government agencies, not by their own initiative. There are hundreds of thousands of child abusive blogs, websites and illegal child abuse images and videos passing through the ISPs servers daily. This is an alleged admission of failure, guilt and likely criminal liability by the ISPs. Shame on them.

To deflect liability, they also argue legal ambiguity in the law since they are not allowed to monitor the accounts of individuals. That is a no-brainer argument since the law is clearly stating that blocking software like Microsoft PhotoDNA is to stop online illegal child pornography passing through their servers. When identified, the police will monitor the accounts and go after the abusers.

The DOJ ought to be preparing criminal charges against the ISPs instead of having discussions. The nation ought to be holding the telecommunication corporations to account. There is effective blocking and filtering software available from Microsoft. If the telecommunications corporations want to obey the law rather than flout it and not continue to disregard the welfare of Filipino children, they can deploy the Microsoft PhotoDNA software immediately.

Over 200 organizations around the world are using it to protect children. It has enabled hundreds of ISPs and content providers to remove millions of illegal images of abused children from the internet. It has helped convict pedophiles and abusers and helped law enforcement track and find victims before being abused. This solution has been available for some years but the Philippine ISPs ignored it. Clearly, they are not interested in preventing child abuse. PhotoDNA also protects ordinary families and their children from being exposed to such shocking images.

The expansion of sales of low-cost smartphones with video capabilities and Whatsapp technologies using the internet via the ISPs has created a horrific market for child abuse videos. In the United States, for example, CyberTipline is a service run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and they reported that videos of children being sexually exploited had expanded ten times. In 2015, there were 312,000 abusive videos found and this increased to 3.5 million in 2017.

A massive unprecedented increase in just two years. What is happening to the human race, are we just now learning of the horrific unlimited extent of human depravity? Only the human species sexually abuses its own children. The solutions are available but the Philippine corporations like PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecoms have to deploy them at once without delay, without fail. Children are being abused online daily. Every day of delay that passes, more children are made to suffer abuse.

Microsoft has PhotoDNA for video now, new effective software. Here is how it works, according to Microsoft. In an article it says: “PhotoDNA for Video breaks down a video into key frames and essentially creates hashes for those screenshots. In the same way that PhotoDNA can match an image that has been altered to avoid detection, PhotoDNA for Video can find child sexual exploitation content that’s been edited or spliced into a video that might otherwise appear harmless. . .”

“When people embed illegal videos in other videos or try to hide them in other ways, PhotoDNA for Video can still find it. It only takes a hash from a single frame to create a match,” says Katrina Lyon-Smith, senior technical program manager who has implemented the use of PhotoDNA for Video on Microsoft’s own services.”

A very effective solution. So why are the telecommunications corporations delaying, arguing, discussing? Is it about money? How much does it cost to save a child from being raped live on the internet over their servers? No cost is too much to prevent, stop it and bring the perpetrators to justice. The failure of the ISPs to obey the law (RA 9775) and deploy this software long ago makes them alleged enablers and possible accessories to the crimes of the child abusers. It’s time for them to repent and become protectors of children and our duty is to hold them accountable.