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ISPs tasked to block just child porn, not all adult sites - NTC


The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has tasked Philippine internet service providers (ISPs) with specifically blocking child pornography websites. However, other adult-oriented websites are beyond the scope of the crackdown.

Pinoy netizens have been abuzz over the weekend ever since it was revealed that the NTC apparently ordered ISPs to actively block pornographic websites in the country—a controversial move, considering that the Philippines is one of the top consumers of mobile pornography in the world.

Decisive crackdown on child porn

However, the NTC clarified that the order is specifically for ISPs to block child pornography, a decisive measure in the face of a recent study that showed that the Philippines is one of the world's top producers of child pornography.

 
"The Memorandum Circular (MC) is only for child pornography. The said MC was promulgated pursuant to Republic Act No. 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009," explained NTC director Edgardo Cabarios in a text message to GMA News.
 
In its Memorandum Circular no. 01-01-2014, a copy of which was obtained by GMA News, the NTC said that "all Internet Service Providers shall install available technology, program or software that will block access or filter all websites carrying child pornography materials."
 
Section 9 of RA9775 specifically states that the NTC should promulgate rules and regulations for "the installation of filtering software that will block access to or transmission of any form of child pornography."

In accordance with int'l best practices
 
Moreover, the move is in accordance with international best practices concering child pornography: late last year, no less than Google and Microsoft announced that they would be actively blocking online searches for child abuse images.
 
Philippine technology law expert Atty. JJ Disini said that the NTC's move is a step in the right direction. 
 
"The NTC regulations only cover child pornography. Child pornography is inherently immoral, exploitative, unjustifiable and illegal. I do not think it is possible to argue that child pornography is a valid expression of free speech," he said in an email to GMA News.

Although the sale, distribution and exhibition of pornography is a crime in the Philippines, Disini said that any widespread crackdown on pornography might be beyond the NTC's scope of responsibilities:

"It’s not entirely clear if the NTC has the authority to screen out content in general since its mandate only covers the regulation of the competitive aspects of the  telecommunications business," he explained. — RSJ, GMA News
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