Thursday, June 20, 2024

Converge blocks 350,000 websites, beefs up efforts to block illicit content

Fiber Internet provider Converge ICT Solutions said it has blocked around 350,000 Web addresses or uniform resource locators (URLs) as of end-January 2023, more than double the list the previous year as it intensifies efforts to protect its pure fiber network from illicit content, including those that contain imagery of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). 

Paulo Martin Santos, Converge chief network transformation officer, takes part in the webinar of
child rights advocacy group Stairway Foundation on February 7, known as Safer Internet Day

“In the face of a marked increase in the number of URLs containing OSAEC encountered in 2022, Converge goes beyond to protect our customers and children by leveraging on cutting-edge cyberdefense tools and growing our partnerships to stop the spread of these materials online,” Paulo Martin Santos, Converge chief network transformation officer said during the kick-off of its ‘Converge Together for a Safer Internet’ campaign last February 7. 

According to network data, Converge increased the sites it has blocked in 2022 by 150% from about 100,000 Web addresses restricted from its broadband network in 2021. Converge has nearly two million subscribers using its end-to-end fiber network.

Moreover, a staggering 2.1 billion requests to these Web addresses were denied during the same period —  more than a tenfold increase from the 144 million requests denied during the previous year.

“The rising number of requests to these sites are alarming to us. Enforcement agencies can count on our ready assistance to crack down on this on an operational level. As an internet service provider, we will continue to do our work in combating OSAEC and ensure our network is not taken advantage of by cyber criminals,” Dennis Anthony Uy, Converge CEO, said.

The 350,000 URLs blocked are aggregated addresses related to different types of cyber crime including OSAEC, illegal online gambling, phishing/banking , terrorism, and voyeurism.

Converge is ushering in February as Safer Internet Month with a series of webinars on protecting children’s welfare online. The first of which is a multi-stakeholder discussion with its advocacy partner, Stairway Foundation and other allies against OSAEC, followed by a webinar for its employees on how to make children’s online experiences safer.

In July 2022, Converge partnered with UK-based child abuse watchdog Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to step up the fight against the spread of images and videos of child sex abuse. Key to this partnership is the license to use IWF’s URL list of criminal webpages as a master list to block URLs.

The network team of Converge also has a coordination mechanism with enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police Cybercrime division for the reporting of all types of illegal content online, including OSAEC.

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