Anti-child pornography law signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Philippines

This is the first major step forward in protecting children from being sexually exploited through the making and distribution of images of them being sexually abused. The law is hard hitting and among other things prohibits the possession, making, distribution, display, and the attempt to access or transmit on the internet or by cell phone any illegal images depicting sexual activity with or of children or their private parts.

This is one of the few pieces of anti-child pornography legislation in the world that requires by law Internet Server Providers (ISPs) to install filtering software that will block access to web sites though the internet that contains illegal images of children as defined under the act. The law is known as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, Republic Act 9775. Mall operators and business establishments have to know and report to the police within 7 days any violation of the act in their premises.

The law strictly outlaws any attempt to knowingly access with reasonable knowledge any child pornography with or without the intent to publish, sell, distribute or broadcast the images. Hundreds of thousands of people daily are accessing, sharing, viewing and downloading images of children being sexually abused. It is a 3 billion dollar business and every image is evidence of a crime against the child. Experts say that such images do entice, induce and encourage offenders to seek out victims and abuse them. Under this legislation the internet server providers must give to the police when asked the identities of the offenders trying to access child pornography over the internet through their servers.

The mandated installation of filtering software by law is rejected by many in the industry. They say it is a first step to government surveillance of internet traffic is an invasion of privacy and a form of censoring; all these are anathema to internet server providers and many users. In the UK they have voluntarily installed filtering software.

There is no total and absolute right over anything or anybody in the world. If the freedom of action of some is harming and allowing the abuse of others, especially children, then action must be taken to protect the vulnerable and the victimized. One right must not be used to violate another right. Besides we all have a moral responsibility to protect children and bring violators to justice. Industry has a social responsibility to make their services child safe just like any other product. They must put children before profits.

Bayantel, a Philippine ISP owned by the Lopez Family is the only ISP already using the very easy to install filtering system known in the industry as NetClean a clever and effective invention from Sweden. PLDT, Sun-Digitel, Globe, Smart and Eastern do not have it. They must act soon. The Preda Foundation (www.preda.org) is mounting a campaign to encourage them to protect children and do it now and install NetClean white box technology. They are a responsible corporation and work closely with Teliasonera. Both companies are committed to helping the victims of child exploitation.

The New Zealand government is using NetClean technology successfully throughout the whole country. The ISPs have no reason to wait the 90 days for the National Telecommunications Commission to order them to do it.

Senator Jamby Madrigal gets the credit and thanks of the nation for sponsoring, drafting and tirelessly advancing the law which passed the senate in record time. I was privileged to be invited to share ideas and suggestions with her legal committee in drafting the legislation. Unicef Philippines also contributed greatly by engaging a Canadian legal expert and brought her in from Hong Kong to help draft key sections. Together with the senator Madrigal’s highly intelligent drafting team led by Attorney Nino Aquino we had a productive brainstorming that helped make this landmark legislation to protect children. (preda@info.com.ph)

Lower House representatives Darlene Antonio-Custodio Ist., Nikk Prieto-Teodoro and Matias Defensor all deserve praise for their efforts to get this important legislation sponsored, passed and signed.

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.com/news.php?news_id=20091120061145



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