Globe, UNICEF Philippines, AHRC sign MoU on online child protection

Leading telecommunications company Globe Telecom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines and Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) for the protection of children against exploitation online.

Globe was invited by UNICEF and AHRC to be the pioneer Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the Philippines to take innovative and concrete steps to combat child exploitation in cyberspace.  This is in recognition of the company’s mission to create a wonderful world for people, business, and the nation.

Both UNICEF and AHRC earlier embarked on a project to build a child-friendly cyberspace together with different stakeholders.  UNICEF is an international organization that promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children. AHRC was established as one of the first university-based institutions engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

“Given the rapid growth in connectivity that has become increasingly accessible to minors, it has become imperative for both the public and private sectors to build awareness and strive to make the internet safe for children.  Globe, being an advocate of responsible digital citizenship, fully supports this campaign of UNICEF and AHRC,” said Fernando Esguerra, Globe Director for Citizenship.

Over the past ten years, the Philippines experienced significant growth in connectivity with an internet penetration rate of 43.5% or over 44 million Filipinos with internet access.  However, the Philippine National Police said half of internet users are children aged 17 years old and below, thus, the urgency for a united drive for online child protection.

To this, UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said: “This partnership could not have come at a better time, given the rising trend of online child exploitation in the country and globally. We now know how real the threats are to our children – such as cyber-bullying and online sexual exploitation. We need to educate not only them, but also our parents, teachers and adult supervisors to empower them on preventive response against potentially abusive content online. Responding to today’s emerging issues will require a strong, integrated, multi-sectoral action plan – and this is what makes this partnership very important.”

"With the onslaught of technology, millions of users – a lot of them are children. We are elated that we are having this partnership with UNICEF and Globe, of coming up with policies on how to concretely protect children from cybercrimes," said Atty. Ray Paolo Santiago, Executive Director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center.

Under the MoU, a study will be conducted to determine how the principles of child rights will be integrated in the business principles of Globe to ensure that the company complies with international standards on online child protection and that its employees are informed properly about the laws related to this.

At the same time, the partnership will help further develop and propagate the Digital Thumbprint Program, a school-based workshop adopted by Globe from Optus of Australia.  DTP is designed to increase the students’ knowledge of digital citizenship and cybersafety by taking a critical look at their online behavior and helping them develop insights into the influences of the internet, the choices they make and the internet’s impact on themselves and the people around them.  DTP covers three key topics: cyber safety and security, cyber etiquette and responsibility, and online leadership and empowerment.  It also involves the training of teachers and volunteer trainers and facilitators who would like to help share the program to as many schools around the country.

The MoU is also in support of UNICEF’s #WeProtect campaign, an international movement that brings together leading technology companies, governments and international organizations to protect millions of children from online sexual exploitation. It includes the completion of a national study on online child protection that will help improve support services for victims in the Philippines.

Seventeen countries have joined the global program.  This includes Albania, Algeria, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Montenegro, Namibia, Paraguay,  Serbia, Uganda, Vietnam and the Philippines.