09/22/2023, 14.35
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Manila: digital illiteracy encourages child exploitation online

by Stefano Vecchia

In a Senate hearing, the Philippine authorities admit that the country remains at the top of the sad rankings on the worldwide spread of the phenomenon. "Serious shortcomings in terms of computer security: we lack the tools to identify the perpetrators of these crimes and reach them".

Manila (AsiaNews) - The authorities responsible for information security have confirmed that the Philippines ranks second in the world in terms of sexual exploitation of minors via the internet. A phenomenon that has various reasons, but which also calls into question "digital illiteracy" which would expose them more to criminal use of the internet.

The debate was relaunched by the Senate session dedicated to the discussion of the 2024 budget of the Department for Information and Communications Technology (Dict).

Some senators asked the heads of the department for explanations on the data currently available regarding the problems arising from the spread of the web, which according to UN data would give the archipelago the sad record of "digital illiteracy". In particular, what causes concern is the lack of knowledge of the risks and protections on the part of users.

The response came from the Department's Undersecretary for Connectivity, Cyber-Security and Knowledge, Jeffrey Ian Dy, who specified that "if the United Nations report is accurate, let me specify that the last time they asked for information for that report was in 2019”.

An update of the data would therefore be underway and, Dy underlined, his office is "particularly confident" that the country has improved the average knowledge of the technologies at the center of the debate.

The standards defined by the United Nations indicate the ability to use an operating system as "basic knowledge" and the ability to use spreadsheets and presentation software as "intermediate ability". In the Philippines, where the spread of social platforms such as Facebook or Tiktok has been exponential, especially using smartphones, there is an inability of many to manage any operating system.

During Tuesday's hearing, an official from the Center for the Investigation and Coordination of Cybercrime reported that the country ranks second in the world for sexual exploitation of minors via the Internet. A practice that families are often unaware of but which they sometimes encourage out of economic necessity and often make possible with the lack of control of the online activities of younger people, also due to their inability.

“One of the reasons is poverty, but first of all, in terms of cybersecurity, we lack the necessary tools to identify the perpetrators of these crimes and reach them,” admitted the head of the Dict, Ivan John Uy.

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