PLDT, Smart block nearly 30,000 child abuse links

Just a few weeks after it reported blocking 10,000 sites linked to child sexual abuse, PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart said the numbers increased to 30,000 by the end of June. The sites contain URLs with explicit content involving children.

According to PLDT and Smart, more than 9,000 of these are active URLs, while over 20,000 have already expired which the Group has purged out of the system.

In the second half of June alone, PLDT and Smart denied access to almost 20,000 URLs linked to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children or OSAEC, quadrupling its haul in the first half of June. The companies attribute this to their membership into the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation or IWF.

PLDT, Smart begin blocking on content level, upping war vs online child abuse

PLDT-Smart cybersecurity group ramps up fight against online sexual exploitation of children

“Child protection has become a way of doing business for PLDT and Smart, beyond just regulatory compliance and corporate social responsibility,” said Catherine Yap-Yang, Group Head and First Vice President of Corporate Communications of PLDT and Smart. “Seeing children as end-users of our connectivity and digital services, we strive to fulfill our role in keeping them safe and well online and commit to cooperate in both local and global multi-sectoral solutions to end OSAEC,”

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.

Aside from receiving reports from the public through their 47 reporting portals serving 2.4 billion people around the world, the IWF’s highly trained analysts actively search the internet for child sexual abuse images and videos. They then work with global partners to get these removed.

The IWF membership has also enabled PLDT and Smart to block these illicit files on the more difficult content level. With this capability, PLDT and Smart can prevent customers from accessing identified child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) including those that have been uploaded on legitimate domains without cutting access to the entire website.