PLDT, Smart cut access to 4,000 sites committing online child abuse

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PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications say they have blocked almost a thousand websites hosting child abuse materials, bringing the total number blocked to 4,000 sites by mid-May. 

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The telco has ramped up efforts on clamping down online child abuse, cutting access to more than 3,000 Web pages linked to child pornography since last year.

The fresh milestone comes just after PLDT and Smart formalized their membership into the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) last month. The latest list of 983 offensive links came from the IWF’s database, which can now be accessed by PLDT and Smart.

“We have configured our platform to link up to the database of IWF. They have initially shared with us more than 7,000 websites that host child abuse files. This has allowed us to immediately clamp down on almost a thousand URLs just a month after we joined IWF. We will also receive in real-time additional links that IWF will enter into their system,” said Angel Redoble, PLDT and Smart chief information security officer.  

PLDT and Smart said they are also looking to block more than 600 domains that host over 2,500 child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) in the coming weeks through the networks’ secure Domain Name System (DNS).  

Boosted by the link up to IWF’s database, the Cyber Security Operations Center of PLDT and Smart are digging deeper to fight online child abuse taking the battle to both the domain and network levels. 

“We have put up a dedicated team and a dedicated platform that deal specifically with online child abuse. We are very serious in our efforts to protect children against predators on the internet,” added Redoble. 

In April this year, PLDT and Smart formalized their entry into IWF, making them the first Philippine company to join the global coalition of more than 150 organizations that fight online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). The IWF counts some of the world’s largest tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Telefonica, and Vodafone as members. 

Backed by the global internet industry and the European Commission, 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 have been engaging global organizations in curtailing online child abuse. Early this month, the company deepened its collaboration with UNICEF by adopting the latest Mobile Operators Child Rights Impact Self-Assessment tool (MO-CRIA), becoming pioneers in Southeast Asia.

Recently PLDT and Smart have renewed their commitment with UNICEF in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect children and advance their rights. PLDT, together with Smart, is the first Philippine company to integrate child safeguarding policies into its business rolling out a child rights-based blueprint in the context of the workplace, the marketplace, and the community. 

The two companies have also teamed up with the SaferKidsPH consortium of the UNICEF, the Australian embassy, Save the Children Philippines, and The Asia Foundation to stop the abuse of children. 

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