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PLDT, Smart warn of emerging AI-generated child abuse materials

PLDT and Smart Communications are cautioning the public about the threat posed by artificial intelligence (AI) or AI-generated child sexual abuse and exploitation materials (CSAEM). 

This warning was issued during the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Summit with Private Sector: Ensuring Digital Spaces for Children,” a recent event convened by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), led by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

PLDT and Smart have been collaborating with the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) for some time now. The IWF has confirmed the existence of AI-generated child sexual abuse images. Out of the 29 reports it investigated between May 24 and June 30, the organization confirmed seven URLs (uniform resource locators) containing AI-generated CSAEM. The IWF noted that some examples are so lifelike that they are nearly indistinguishable from real imagery to most people.

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“This development not only poses a challenge to the technological aspects of countering CSAEM, but it also tests the limits of our legal framework in addressing this menace,” said Angel Redoble, chief information security officer of PLDT and Smart. 

Angel Redoble, Chief Information Security Officer of PLDT and Smart.

Membership in the IWF has been pivotal for PLDT and Smart’s Child Protection Platform, which blocks CSAEM at the content level. The IWF regularly provides “hashes” to the PLDT Group, which are then used to block content in real-time. Through their blocking tool, PLDT and Smart have amassed a substantial repository of URLs related to CSAEM, totaling more than 660,000 links that have been prevented from being accessed on their network. In the first half of the year, their Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) successfully thwarted over a million attempts to access sites hosting child sexual abuse imagery.

“PLDT and Smart call upon fellow child rights and child safety advocates to collaborate on the development of impactful anti-CSAEM programs that can adapt to the rapidly changing environment,” Redoble said.

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