DICT moves to cut child online sexual abuse
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is taking big steps to significantly reduce cases of child online sexual exploitation as it implements its nationwide free Wifi internet initiative.
The DICT hosted on Thursday the Child Online Protection Summit to help develop protection standards.
The event also sought to highlight the massive problem of online child abuse and exploitation – a cross-border global operation that typically inhabits the so-called dark web or the part of the internet that is hidden from traditional search engines and can only be accessed by special tools and software.
Part of the problem is the $3 billion child pornography business, apart from other forms of exploitation and even cyber-bullying.
Moreover, 50 percent of reported cases on cybercrime were online child abuse. This could involve children as young as three months old in what is known as livestream sexual abuse, and often, at the hands of their parents seeking to make “easy money.”
Allan Cabanlong, DICT assistant secretary for cybersecurity and enabling technologies, said there were a total of 26,000 such cases reported in the Philippines so far this year.
“The crime solution of that is just a fraction of the total,” he said in an interview at the sidelines of the summit.
He said the DICT also wanted to cut reported cases by half, or to 25 percent by 2022.
Cabanlong said the issue went beyond crafting polices.
“We need tools. That is what we lack,” he said.
He said the DICT would establish in 2018 its National Cybercrime Intelligence Center. This would act as a first line responder, helping identify cases, after which enforcers like the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Justice could step in.
But he noted that funding and support were needed. The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center of the DICT, for example, has a budget of P10 million.
Cabanlong said the “sophisticated tools” required run into multiples of that figure. The unit is also hampered by the lack of manpower to ramp up operations.
“We are recruiting next year (2018),” he said.
Lending support on Thursday were officials from countries familiar with this problem. These included the Australian Embassy in Manila and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The DICT wants policies in place as its Wifi initiative is expected to hit over 200,000 hotspots around the country by 2022.
The DICT would require all of its partner internet service providers to block access to websites, applications, and programs that promote or provide any access to online sexual abuse and exploitation material on children. /kga
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