Online exploitation of children had an alarming increase during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DoJ-OoC) disclosed on Monday.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline Report also attributed the spike to the surge in Internet usage as majority of the people were required to stay home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The 1 March 2020 to 24 May 2020 report observed an increase of 202,605 cases of online child exploitation since the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ was implemented on 17 March.
The NCMEC also reported an increase of 264.63 percent from the figures received during the same period in 2019.
In 2014, the DoJ-OoC was designated as the Point-of-Contact (PoC) of the NCMEC, a private, non-profit corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent child victimization.
The center is authorized by a US law to receive reports from electronic communication service providers (namely Facebook, Yahoo! and Gmail) as soon as reasonably possible after obtaining actual knowledge of any facts or circumstances that sexual exploitation of children is being committed using its server or facility.
As the country’s PoC, the DoJ-OoC is provided with direct access to the NCMEC Virtual Private Network and is notified each time a report for online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) that has a Philippine nexus — where either the offended party or the offender is located in the Philippines — is received.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Internet service providers will voluntarily comply with the law that requires them to install technology that will block or filter out materials that exploit children.
The legal obligation is automatically included in their franchises and permits to operate.
“And they realize, more than anyone, that without such technology, this trend of victimization of children who are the most vulnerable among us will remain unabated. To reduce the proliferation of and to prevent OSEC have been the aspiration of several government agencies and inter-agency committees involved in the formulation of policies that uphold every child’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and social well-being.”