Senator Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking to ensure that children are protected from harmful materials in the Internet, especially now that it is easy to go online using different devices at any time of the day.
De Lima has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1499, also known as the Online Child Safety Act, which requires commercial establishments and public institutions to use appropriate filtering devices that will restrict children’s access to harmful materials.
“Our children are the most vulnerable against exploitative acts and other Internet- based crimes. The shroud of anonymity that the Internet gives the perpetrators makes the danger to our children greater,” the legislator said. “Hence, it is even more imperative for us to establish safeguards for our youth when they use the Internet.”
The filtering devices mentioned under SB 1499 are the softwares installed in the computer or any programs activated from the service provider or any other such device that can effectively block unwanted websites particularly those containing sexually explicit and/or violent materials.
Aside from violent pictures, graphic image files, articles, recordings and writings, these harmful materials also include other matter of any kind that is deemed offensive.
“For children especially, the Internet provides unique educational opportunities and even serves as their primary source for research. However, the onset of this technology has also brought about a different venue for child predators and perpetrators of crime,” the lawmaker said.
The lady senator’s proposed bill further proposes the identification of a website that may contain materials harmful to children by mandating a “tag” created by the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) be displayed initially when such websites are accessed.
Under SB 1499, it is the duty of all internet-service providers and duly-licensed commercial establishment owners to report suspected and actual operation of website containing materials that are harmful to children over the Internet, to the nearest law enforcement office in the locality.
A staunch advocate of human rights, De Lima’s proposed SB 1499 is just among her efforts to protect children from violence. This year, she also filed Senate Bill No. 1348, which proposes to prohibit corporal punishment and all other forms of “humiliating and degrading” acts imposed on children and Senate Bill 195, which seeks to impose stiffer penalties on those who involve children in their criminal activities.
Notably, individuals who are over 18 but unable to protect themselves from abuse because of physical or mental ability are also protected by this bill.