Bill requires biz, gov’t establishments to use filters against harmful online content

Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed to require commercial establishments and public institutions to use appropriate filtering devices that will restrict children’s access to harmful materials in the Internet.

Sen. Leila de Lima

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 621 seeking to protect minors against exploitative acts and other Internet-based crimes.

“For children especially, the Internet provides unique educational opportunities and even serves as their primary source for research,” she said.

“However, the onset of this technology has also brought about a different venue for child predators and perpetrators of crime,” she added.

According to the data from the National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children, nearly one in two Filipino children aged 13 to 17 experienced cyber violence.

“These are alarming figures that should put both the State and our society on notice with the imperative to increase protection to the most vulnerable members of our society — the children,” she said.

Under SB No. 621, all commercial establishments shall restrict access to materials harmful to children by offering filtered Internet service using end-user or PC-based filtering software or any such other filtering device to all Internet users.

All other offices, companies, establishments or public institutions offering Internet services or access, such as private or public schools, libraries, restaurants and Internet cafes, are likewise required to use filtering device that are appropriate for blocking webpages that contain materials harmful to children.

The lady senator noted that these harmful materials include violent pictures, graphic image files, articles, and any materials designed to entice children to the use of alcohol, drugs and other dangerous substances, among others.

De Lima stressed that it shall be mandatory for all Internet service providers (ISPs) and licensed commercial establishment owners to report suspected and actual operation of website containing online materials that are harmful to children to the Online Child Safety Council established under this Act, or to the nearest law enforcement office.

The said Online Child Safety Council, which will be created under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will serve as the primary agency responsible for the implementation of the bill once it is enacted into law.

In the previous 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 945 seeking a Senate inquiry into the increasing cases of child cybersex abuses in the country despite the existence of at least five laws to protect children from abuses, exploitation and violence.

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