The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday vowed to issue an ultimatum to all telecommunication companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to perform their obligations under the law requiring them to install software that will block access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography in the internet.
During Kapihan Sa Manila Bay news forum, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stressed that the government would not hesitate to file criminal charges and impose sanctions against non-compliant telcos and ISPs for failure to fulfill their duty under Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.
RA 9775 mandates telcos and ISPs to install a program or software that will block access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography in the internet.
The law also requires ISPs to notify authorities within seven days from the discovery that any form of child pornography is being committed using their servers or facilities.
“We will give them an ultimatum, I just have to speak with the Cybercrime Division again so that we will know how long it will take for these key persons to comply with the law. I’ll be speaking to the heads of our Cybercrime Division both the DOJ and the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) so we will know what it would take for them to comply and what is needed. But I will definitely issue an ultimatum,” Remulla said.
Remulla said he is giving the telcos and ISPs until September 15 to comply with the installation of anti-child pornography software.
The DOJ chief also exhorted the National Telecommunications Commission to impose steep fines against telcos and ISPs that have failed to cooperate in the government’s effort to address online exploitation and abuse of children.
The NTC is a government agency that has supervision, adjudication, and control over all telecommunications services in the country including radio and television stations, cable companies, and internet services.
According to him, these telco companies and ISPs should be fined on a daily basis until they have complied with their obligations under the law.
“The NTC can issue fines on a daily basis for non-compliance. That’s been done before. It has to be steep, but of course, they can be closed down if they become, if they refuse to cooperate,” Remulla pointed out.
Remulla said that officials of telco companies and ISPs may also be held criminally liable as accomplice or accessory to crimes related to online exploitation and abuse of children if they continue to ignore their obligations.
“That is what we can use but we are asking for their help…We do not want to go charging everybody, but we just want people to cooperate,” the DOJ chief stressed.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking led by the DOJ, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday declared war on OSAEC after data showed that the country has become the top source of such illegal content.
Remulla acknowledged that one of the major challenges in addressing the problem is technological, which is vital in tracing the perpetrators.
He added that there is also a need to immediately pass the New Immigration Act to tighten the country’s borders against foreign pedophiles who can easily enter the country due to non-visa requirements.
“Hopefully, we can have something done to strengthen the immigration department. That’s the point of entry of all these criminals who prey on our children, that is why there is a need to fix our immigration law,” Remulla said.
Remulla emphasized that there should be a common database of sexual offenders among countries to restrict their movements and prevent their entry to other countries such as the Philippines.
The DOJ chief said OSAEC refers to the use of digital or analog communication, and information and communications technology, as a means to abuse and exploit children sexually, which includes cases in which contact child abuse and/or exploitation offline is combined with an online component.
This could also include, but is not limited to the production, dissemination, and possession of child sexual abuse and exploitation materials (CSAEM); online grooming for children for sexual purposes; sexual extortion of children; sharing image-based sexual abuse; commercial sexual exploitation of children; exploitation of children through online prostitution; and live streaming of sexual abuse, with or without the consent of the victim.