Senator eyes incentives for companies assisting authorities on online sexual abuse cases

Senator eyes incentives for companies assisting authorities on online sexual abuse cases
This file photo shows a child using the camera of a cellular phone
Pixabay / File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros is mulling granting incentives to private companies that assist law enforcement in cracking down on the abuse and exploitation of children.

“We need companies to be proactive in the fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). Providing incentives may be the most effective way to ensure this," the senator said.

This comes as the Senate committee on women, chaired by Hontiveros, on Tuesday resumes its hearing on Senate Bill No. 2068, or the Anti-[OSAEC] Law, which also imposes penalties on private companies that do not comply with their obligations under the bill.

For Hontiveros, both incentives and penalties can be used to "encourage more synergy between private companies and government agencies."

"The private sectors’ products are the main channels through which exploitation occurs. If these companies will have a take-charge attitude because of incentives, then we should study this possibility," she added in English and Filipino.

"When it comes to a crime as stealthy and as technical as OSAEC, our law enforcement agencies need all the help they can get."

Proposed fines on companies 

Under the proposed Anti-OSAEC law, internet service providers who fail to give notice of exploitation on their services will suffer a penalty between P2 million to P5 million while a fine of P10 million could be slapped on social media companies for the same violations

Banks, money services, and other financial intermediaries not fulfilling their reportorial obligation will also suffer penalties under the law.

During last week's hearing, a representative from the International Justice Mission told senators that reports of online sexual exploitation surged amid the pandemic.

Lawyer Lawrence Aritao, national director of prosecutions for IJM, said that in 2020, they received over 1.2 million reports of online sexual exploitation — almost triple of the around 400,000 reports registered in 2019.

The National Bureau of Investigation also confirmed to senators that Facebook and Twitter are regularly utilized by syndicates for human trafficking activities, adding that even telcos are uncooperative with the agency when it comes to cases of child abuse and exploitation.

Social media giant Facebook last week earned the ire of three senators for failing to send a representative to field senators' questions.

It has since committed to attending the hearing which resumed on Tuesday at 10 a.m., centered on the role of social media platforms in online abuse and exploitation in the Philippines.

— Bella Perez-Rubio







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