MANILA, Philippines, Feb. 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes even more to protect one.
In a webinar marking Safer Internet Day on February 8, Philippine digital solutions platform Globe and international organizations United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) vowed to continue efforts in fighting Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) in the country.
The event was anchored on Globe's long-running #MakeITSafePH campaign geared towards online safety and protection.
At the webinar, Globe highlighted the importance of holistic cooperation among the public and private sectors, international and local civil society organizations, and digital citizens.
"As a digital solutions group, Globe recognizes the need for children to be safe online. We celebrate Safer Internet Day today with the intention of raising awareness and educating consumers about the continued rise of OSAEC in the Philippines, and what we can do to protect our children from further risks of online violence and exploitation," said Yoly Crisanto, Globe Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP for Corporate Communications.
The company has invested more than US$2.7 million for content filtering systems that block websites and online imagery that promote child pornography and piracy.
"There is an urgent need to address online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, especially with the growing digital landscape," said UNICEF Child Protection Officer Ramil Anton Villafranca.
He added, "We saw an alarming trend even before the pandemic that led to abuse, which was further exacerbated by economic hardships during the pandemic. As a community, we need to create better opportunities that will enable our children and their families, without exposing them to the risks of abuse and exploitation."
IWF Communications Director Emma Hardy cited the importance of global partnerships to address the cross-border problem.
"We've been doing this for 25 years now and we cannot do it without great partnerships from around the world. And we were so delighted to be able to welcome Globe Telecom as one of our members in the Philippines. Key to the work that we do is having a global network of Internet companies that we work with," she said.
IWF is a UK-based child protection body that employs cutting-edge technology to find, remove, disrupt and prevent child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. The non-profit organization works closely with international law enforcement agencies, governments, and other non-government organizations (NGO). Each report on an exploitative image or video it receives is examined by a pool of expert analysts, who proactively scour the internet for OSAEC content.
Hardy presented recent data showing a 64% rise in child sexual abuse imagery from 2020 to 2021 globally, with nearly three-quarters of total reported content "self-generated."
This means a child online alone is "encouraged, groomed and coerced into sexual activity by the person on the other side of the webcam," who then records this and shares it on Internet forums for people who have sexual interest in children.
"In the work that we do we see that the images, once captured, we see them recirculated time and time again," Hardy said at the forum, citing that girls 11 to 13 are most vulnerable.
Boosting local efforts in the Philippines is an imperative as the country has been found to be among the world's top producers of content involving child sexual abuse, according to a study by the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Reports of online child exploitation have risen during the pandemic, as struggling families resorted to producing illicit content using children to earn money quickly to make ends meet.
"Stopping OSAEC is everybody's fight. As a commited advocate for Internet safety, Globe has been working closely with government and key stakeholders to protect our children from sexual abuse online for several years," said Globe Chief Data Privacy Officer Irish Salandanan-Almeida.
She added, "The only way for us to truly win this fight is by working together across sectors and recognizing how we as individuals can play a part in preventing further cases of OSAEC in the Philippines."
Globe strongly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 9 which highlights the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development, and UN SDG 17 which highlights the value of partnerships in achieving the sustainable development goals. Globe is committed to upholding the United Nations Global Compact principles and 10 UN SDGs.
To know more about OSAEC and #StopOnlineChildAbuse, watch the webinar via the Globe Bridging Communities Facebook page.
Globe is a leading full-service telecommunications company in the Philippines and publicly listed in the PSE with the stock symbol GLO. The company serves the telecommunications and technology needs of consumers and businesses across an entire suite of products and services including mobile, fixed, broadband, data connectivity, internet and managed services. It has major interests in financial technology, digital marketing solutions, venture capital funding for startups, and virtual healthcare. In 2019, Globe became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, committing to implement universal sustainability principles. Its principals are Ayala Corporation and Singtel, acknowledged industry leaders in the country and in the region.
Unicef works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF works for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
About Internet Watch Foundation:
The IWF works globally to stop child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. It is part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, working with Childnet International and the South West Grid for Learning to promote the safe and responsible use of technology. If you ever stumble across a sexual image or video of someone you think is under 18, please report to the IWF. Reporting can be done anonymously and confidentially – we don't need your details, just your help. For more information please visit www.iwf.org.uk