Philippines ISPs Ordered to Install Filters

Rhett Pardon

MANILA — The Philippines government today said it will require Internet service providers to install filters to block access to child pornography.

ISPs will have until June to install the filters or risk heavy fines, government regulators said.

With a move to order mandatory filtering, the Philippines government is implementing a five-year-old law on the books — Republic Act No. 9775 — that lists the production, distribution or possession of child pornography as a criminal act.

The law is far-reaching and requires IT professionals, credit card companies and Internet cafe owners, among others, liable to report to authorities incidences of suspected child porn materials or transactions involving those under 18.

Those who flout reporting incidences of CP to authorities can face fines of up to $22,400 on a first offense, and double that on a second offense including revocations  of business permits.

Republic Act No. 9775 required years of public input on how to implement it, according to Edgardo Cabarrios, a spokesman for the National Telecommunications Commission.

"There were experts [at the consultations] who were one in saying this will help. It may not eradicate [online child porn] completely but this will help," he told Agence France-Presse.

In the U.K., where filters have been imposed on Britain's big four ISPs over the past year, results have proved controversial and somewhat ineffective. In fact, some institutional and educational websites, providing users with useful information on sensitive subjects, have been blocked while other sexually explicit sites have been filtered out.

In the Philippines, Cabarrios acknowledged that filtering out all child porn was almost impossible but they could keep out the majority. "We all know that websites are easily created so [filtering them] is a moving target," he said.

View Republic Act No. 9775 of 2009