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Over half a million child abuse links blocked as of end-Nov. — PLDT group


TELECOMMUNICATIONS firm PLDT Inc. and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. said that they had blocked more than 522,000 links that contain child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) as part of ongoing efforts to protect children online.

Angel T. Redoble, chief information security officer of PLDT and Smart, said during the 2022 National Cybercrime Convention that the PLDT group’s child protection platform lets them block child sexual abuse materials online in support of the campaign against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“Our pioneering child protection platform has allowed us to block CSAM online on the more difficult content level. By the end of November, we have prevented more than 1.3 billion attempts to open child abuse content,” Mr. Redoble said.

The PLDT group also receives hashes related to CSAM as part of its membership to the United Kingdom-based Internet Watch Foundation and the Canadian Center for Child Protection’s Project Arachnid. The hashes are blocked after being received by PLDT-Smart’s cybersecurity operations group.

“We have adopted the children’s rights and business principles framework and enacted a child safeguarding policy that now guides us in applying a child rights lens into our policies, technology solutions, and shared value partnerships, from inside our organization, and outwards, to the communities where we operate,” PLDT and Smart Chief Sustainability Officer Melissa V. Vergel de Dios said.

Cathy Y. Yang, who heads the PLDT group’s corporate communications, said that a “whole-of-nation approach” is needed to solve online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“We work closely with key government offices as well as law enforcement agencies to come up with a comprehensive plan that not only seeks to prevent children from being victimized but, more importantly, launches impactful programs that empower communities,” Ms. Yang said.

PLDT and Smart also joined WePROTECT Global Alliance, which provides global resources and links with other related organizations in efforts to protect children in cyberspace.

“PLDT and Smart actively participated in strengthening Republic Act No. 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act that was passed into law this year,” they said.

They added that the group pushed for the inclusion of the “Good Samaritan” clause empowers internet service providers to immediately take down offensive materials without being held civilly, criminally or administratively liable.

“The two telcos had expressed their commitment in helping the government craft the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 11930,” they said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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