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PLDT, Smart Block 1 Billion Links To Online Child Abuse

PLDT, Smart Block 1 Billion Links To Online Child Abuse
Children play in an inflatable swimming pool in Tondo, Manila on March 6, 2022 to beat the heat. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR

Over one billion user attempts to access online child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) have been blocked by telco giant PLDT Inc. and its wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. since November last year through the intensified capability of their cybersecurity solutions and child protection platform.

On top of this, the group has also blocked more than 224,000 CSAM uniform resource locators (URLs) or web addresses as of the end of last month.

“In support of our continuing commitment to child protection and to the global fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), these milestone figures manifest our expanded capacity to both block illicit URLs and prevent end-user attempts to access CSAM,” PLDT chief information security advisor Angel Redoble said.

PLDT and Smart had invested about P2 billion in a stronger cybersecurity operations center and a dedicated child protection platform that allows the group to continuously detect, predict, respond, and prevent access to CSAM, while ensuring full compliance with customer data protection and privacy laws.

Redoble explained that these in-house solutions optimize top-notch cybersecurity technologies and utilize dynamic intelligence data gathered from PLDT and Smart’s alliances with entities like the Internet Watch Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

“Seeing such significant results, we are all the more encouraged to constantly keep abreast with global best practices and forge more alliances to further enhance our infrastructure for customer safety and solutions for child protection,” he said.

As part of the group’s environmental, social and governance commitments, PLDT and Smart implement a pioneering child safeguarding policy that embeds child rights and safety considerations into group-wide programs, practices and technology solutions.

PLDT is also not letting up on investments to bolster its cyber defenses amid evolving and increasing cyber threats and attacks, as it intends to spend P1 billion annually for cybersecurity.

Last year, the country saw a wide range of cyberattacks, targeting stakeholders of public and private organizations, and even everyday consumers through mobile devices and social media platforms.