PLDT, Smart and IWF fight online child abuse

PLDT and Smart have earmarked close to P2 billion to run the advanced cybersecurity operations center

Spawned by the COVID-19 lockdowns last year, the Philippine Department of Justice reported a 264 percent spike in reported cases of OSAEC. These have been heavily attributed to incidences of poverty within families during the lockdown, as well as the heightened exposure of children to the Internet.

To address this, PLDT Inc. and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. have formalized their membership into the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to broaden their global fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSEAC).

The IWF is a non-profit organization that works closely with law enforcement agencies of national governments, internet service providers and platforms, and charitable organizations in taking down webpages, keywords, hash lists, and digital fingerprints that contain child abuse materials.

PLDT and Smart gain access to a wider database on which to block harmful links. The IWF, which has identified at least 9,000 domains linked to online child abuse, counts Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Telefonica, and Vodafone among its members.

This development reinforces the strategy that PLDT and Smart employ in detecting and blocking access to exploitative content on the internet. They have been digging deeper into the fight against OSAEC by employing a targeted platform that automatically restricts access to child sexual abuse materials (CSAM).

PLDT and Smart have been blocking illegal sites through open-source threat intelligence gathering, purchasing available commercial threat intelligence and receiving information from the government through law enforcement agencies.

Children, as future stakeholders and nation-builders, have always been at the heart of PLDT and Smart. Both PLDT and Smart are committed to promote awareness and take accountability in upholding children’s rights, protecting them from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, and empowering them to actively and harmoniously participate in family, cultural and community life.

“We’re now part of a bigger community that shares information on child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) that are spread across the Internet. We have access to IWF’s rich database of websites that host these illegal materials. This will be integrated into our own child protection platform to prevent further exposure of our children and customers to these illicit contents,” said PLDT and Smart Chief Information Security Officer Angel Redoble.

PLDT and Smart have earmarked close to P2 billion to run the advanced cybersecurity operations center, where cybersecurity analysts predict, prevent, detect, and respond to all types of cyber threats like phishing and scamming activities, including those related to OSAEC. This has enabled the two companies to block more than 3,000 domains that have featured child abuse materials.

Featured photo: Pexels

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