Groups to gov’t: Address gaps in imposing laws vs online child sexual abuse | Inquirer News

Groups to gov’t: Address gaps in imposing laws vs online child sexual abuse

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 09:53 PM February 09, 2022

Groups on Monday called on the national government to address gaps in implementing existing laws against online sexual abuse. stock image

MANILA, Philippines — Groups on Wednesday called on the national government to address gaps in implementing existing laws against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC).

In a statement made after commemorating the annual Safer Internet Day held on Feb. 8, Atty. Tim Abejo, co-convenor of consumer group CitizenWatch, said that while laws have been created to curb online exploitation of children, gaps in implementation continue to allow OSAEC to thrive.


He cited several existing laws which included the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (RA 9775); Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208, as amended by RA 10364); Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175); Child Abuse Law or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (RA 7610); and the Revised Penal Code.


“There are laws that conflict with the implementation of the above legislation, and which make it difficult for the authorities to go after online predators,” said Abejo.

“They are the Anti-Wiretapping Act, where evidence of OSAEC acts secured through wiretaps is admissible, the Data Privacy Act, which prevents ISPs (internet service providers) or social media platforms from releasing the personal information of OSAEC violators, and the Cybercrime Prevention Act which deems unconstitutional the collection of traffic data,” he added.

According to Bantay BK3 convenor Professor Louie Montemar, rules should be proposed to exclude OSAEC cases from the said acts, “or else these sinister minds would be able to continue their dark deeds unhampered, and even protected by the law.”

“We also need to require financial institutions and remittance centers to act on OSAEC-related transactions,” said Montemar.

“We can do something to prevent these criminals from harming our people, especially our children, from behind a screen. We do not have to bear with these evils as a trade-off with the benefits of technology,” he added.

Strengthening collaboration

Abejo then urged the government to strengthen its collaboration with the private sector, adding that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), social media platforms and online content providers, without the fear of violating data privacy and cybersecurity laws, can actively detect and prevent OSAEC.


“ISPs should not be burdened by more regulations or sanctions,” he said.

“A system must be put in place where they will be empowered to report OSAEC offenders to the proper authorities,” he added.

According to CitizenWatch, the Philippines is a center of child sex abuse materials production in the world, with 80% of Filipino children vulnerable to OSAEC. Studies have also shown that OSAEC is usually a family-based crime, where the abuse has persisted for many years, worsened by economic difficulties brought about by the pandemic.

Other factors, said the group, include free online connectivity, the widespread use of cellphones, the irresponsible use of technology, and insufficient computer literacy of children and their parents, as well as the myriad online payment facilities now available.

“We can only be truly digitally ready if we can guarantee the safety of our online spaces especially for our children,” said Montemar.

“The worsening online abuse and exploitation of children is an alarming development and must be addressed immediately, decisively, and adequately.”

Government earilier revealed that transaction reports related to online sexual exploitation rose from 19,000 in 2019 to 47,937 in 2020 when mobility restrictions were imposed to halt the pandemic. The median age of those involved in these transactions is 11.


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TAGS: Children, online abuse, pandemic, Philippines

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