Philippine ISPs emerge winners in gov’t ban on Internet adult content!

Certain adult sites are now supposedly banned in the Philippines — or, at least, users have noted that some of them are no longer accessible. BBC News reports

The Philippines government has not given any official explanation of why the sites have suddenly been blocked.

However, the country’s National Telecommunications Commission confirmed to CNN that it had ordered all the nation’s ISPs to block access from 14 January.

But social media chatter suggests customers using Globe and other ISPs can still access the sites.

This follows a report issued by one of the sites that Filipinos spend an “insane” amount of time watching adult videos over the Net. According to the report, Filipinos spend an average of more than 12 minutes per session, way above the nine and a half minute global average.

Scientists state that excessive pornography viewing can be unhealthy if it becomes problematic for an individual due to personal or social reasons, including excessive time spent viewing pornography instead of interacting with others. Individuals may report depression, social isolation, career loss, decreased productivity, or financial consequences as a result of their excessive Internet pornography viewing impeding on their social life. Frequent consumers of pornography tend to experience more loneliness, and sexually inexperienced consumers of porn tend to have lower self-esteem with regard to their bodies and sexual potential as compare themselves to the actors in the pornographic material.

But is censoring the Net the solution to what, essentially, is an unscientifically-verified national obsession with viewing adult content online? The proposal to ban adult content delivered over the Net in the Philippines is not new. Back in 2014, then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima invoked existing laws against the sexual abuse of minors to propose such a measure. But, in general, efforts mounted by the Philippine government to combat child abuse has been spotty at best; more often than not prompted by foreign law enforcement agencies that have traced sources of the illegal content reaching their shores to criminals operating in the Philippines.

Some observers note the current ban on the several adult sites was done in an arbitrary manner underpinned by nebulous reference to existing cyber crime laws in the Philippines. However, Republic Act 9775 or the “Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009” mandates the Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography (IACACP) under the guidelines of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to oversee the implementation of the following measures…

The NTC shall furnish ISPs with a list of the pornographic websites provided by the IACACP for their immediate blocking. Thereafter, the ISPs must submit to the IACACP within 5 days from the end of each month, a list of all the websites that were blocked, which subscribers attempted to access. In addition, they must inform the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation of any form of child pornography committed using their services or facilities, within 7 days from obtaining such facts and circumstances. Thus, for purposes of investigation and prosecution by the concerned authorities, all ISPs must preserve their customers’ data record particularly the time, origin and destination of access.

Given the renowned unreliability of Internet services in the Philippines, it may be likely that various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Philippines could be very much supportive of — or even behind — the move to throttle access to adult content over the Net. Streaming video content over the Net is extremely resource-intensive and, suffice to stay, probably puts disproportionate burden on the Philippines’ meagre bandwidth availability. Indeed, the recent findings surrounding the national obsession with adult videos may have given an escape hatch to the big monopolistic telco providers in the Philippines.

Many Internet access products marketed by these ISPs offer “unli” (unlimited”) access — a promise that has been called out by leading social media “activists” as misleading. However, it should be noted that 1 to 1.5 GB (the equivalent of 8-10 hours of digital video) is more than enough for an entire month of reasonable usage. It is likely that those who complain the most are heavy consumers of high-bandwidth content like videos, online games, and pirated content — Internet applications the productive contribution to the economy of which remain highly dubious.

The key concept here, therefore, is productive contribution to the economy. Is watching adult content over the Net a productive activity? Does it contribute to enriching society as a whole? These are the questions that should guide the whole debate around this “issue”.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the article “Effects of pornography” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]


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