Saturday, May 1, 2010

NTC Public Hearing On Web Filtering

After one postponement last April 20th, the public hearing on the draft rules for web filtering went on last Thursday, April 20, 2010. National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the agency tasked to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations for Section 9 of Republic Act No. 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009) conducted the public hearing with representatives from the telephone companies (telcos), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the i-café industry in attendance. The meeting was the first public hearing on the matter of setting the rules on how to do the internet filtering by Internet Service Providers (ISPs),  detection of online child pornography activities and preservation of evidence for violations of the law.

The public hearing started with the definition of Internet Service Provider (ISP) as worded in the law. NTC expressed its opinion that the way it was worded, ISPs include any establishment providing access to the internet including i-cafés, hotels, private offices but in real practice, it is only the telcos, cable companies and value-added service suppliers offering internet access to the public who must be called ISPs. In view of this, I-Café Pilipinas, as the national advocacy organization of the internet café industry in the country, was requested to submit its formal position on the matter.

Regarding internet filtering for contents depicting child pornography, the telco representatives agree to the have it done at their level but suggested that a list of unwanted sites be provided to them before they do so. NTC suggested to everyone in the hearing especially to DSWD representatives to look at the methods being done by other countries that already have laws similar to R.A. 9775. The detection and preservation of evidence for online violation of the law was also tackled but nothing concrete on how to do it was presented in the hearing.

When asked about when did the law became effective and when is the deadline in promulgating its IRR, a DSWD representative informed the body that the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 became effective last February 6, 2010 and the deadline for its IRR will be on May 7, 2010. That being the case, NTC requested all those present to submit their position papers before May 6, 2010. All those present in the public hearing laud the law for the protection it will give the children against pornography. However, the body is also unanimous in saying that the provisions of R.A. 9775 are inadequate to effect its proper implementation.

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