Child Rights Network: Passage of RA 11930 marks the dawn of safer Internet for children

 

August 4 – “The passage of this new law marks the dawn of safer online spaces for children.”

This is how Child Rights Network – the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines – described the enactment of Republic Act No. 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law, which lapsed into law last July 30.

CRN said that the development would help pull the country out of being one of the most dangerous places for children to access the Internet.

“It is our fervent wish for Filipino children to safely navigate the virtual space without fear. RA 11930 symbolizes the break of dawn heralding a future where no more children are harmed, abused, and victimized through the Internet,” CRN Convenor Romeo Dongeto said.

In a study by the International Justice Mission released in 2020, global law enforcement data revealed that the Philippines was the world’s largest source country of OSAEC cases. The Philippines received more than eight times as many referrals as any other country identified in the study.

Timely development 

CRN noted that the passage of RA 11930 is a timely development, as the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly aggravated the OSAEC situation.

With children staying more in their homes, online platforms became a basic need for the children to continue their education and maintain a sense of normalcy. Coupled with economic difficulties, this situation made it easier for OSAEC perpetrators to prey on children.

Data from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showed how rapidly OSAEC cases increased during the pandemic, noting that there was a 209% increase in the cyber tip reports for the Philippines, from 2020 (1,294,750 cyber tips) compared to 2019 (418,422 cyber tips).

These figures complement the findings of a risk assessment report released by the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council in 2020 which showed that there had been a significant rise in the suspicious financial transactions reporting related to OSAEC in 2020. From the 597 suspicious transaction reports recorded in May 2019, the figures bloated to 5,634 in May 2020.

“At a time when even basic social services, especially education, largely depend on the Internet, the new law holistically responds to the advocates’ longstanding call for stronger online child safety regulations,” Dongeto said.

Making cyberspace safe for children 

A product of extensive consultations with stakeholders, including children and young people, victim-survivors, family court judges, duty-bearers, internet service providers, tech and social media companies, and civil society organizations, RA 11930 grants potent tools to law enforcement authorities to swiftly pursue perpetrators of OSAEC and effectively tear the veil of anonymity that hides their nefarious acts in cyberspace.

The new law also lays down the responsibilities of Internet intermediaries, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Internet Content Hosts, Social Networking Sites, and banking and financial institutions, enabling the government to work in tandem with the private sector not only to block child sexual abuse or exploitation materials but also to ensure that technological or other practical safeguards are in place to prevent or detect recruitment and trafficking.

“Essentially, RA 11930 plugs fundamental loopholes in existing laws and regulations concerning OSAEC by providing clear definitions that succinctly consider the often-ephemeral quality of OSAEC committed through the viewing or live-streaming of online content that does not need the offender to do any act of downloading or retaining any form of child sexual abuse materials,” Dongeto stressed.

“The passage of the Anti-OSAEC Law is a testament that the private and public sector can work together to protect our children. We call on our legislators, government officials, and the private sector – especially tech and social media companies, to continue this path of protective cooperation as we move to the next crucial step – enforcing the law,” Dongeto concluded. ###

About Child Rights Network

Child Rights Network is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines.

Media Contact:
Richard Dy
crnphilippines@gmail.com