The dark side of the Internet

The Internet facilitates the sexual exploitation of minors by paedophiles. Photo: CNS/Reuters

A hot-blooded crime was committed last December 2019, done with a terrorist and jihadist motivation of anger and hatred, resulting in the violent deaths of three United States sailors who were shot dead at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. 

The killer was Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was training at the base with 21 companions. He was killed by security. Fifteen of the other Saudi trainees were found to have anti-American and jihadist comments on their laptop computers according to the FBI and, equally shocking, was that they had child pornography on their laptops too.

This connection of child pornography with extremist ideological views is a troubling new dimension of child sexual abuse for many readers and children’s rights defenders. Possession and viewing of acts of child rape is an indication of the desire to actually sexually abuse a child.  

What kind of screening was done by the military before allowing these officers to join a training programme? The fact that they were not charged under US law for the possession of child pornography was likely a tainted and morally wrong political decision. Since Saudi Arabia is such an important military partner and buyer of American made weapons with billions of dollars in sales, the law was bypassed.

Child protection and law enforcement officials in the US are surely dumbfounded at the decision of the Trump administration to allow them to fly back to Saudi Arabia scot-free considering that the never-to-be-forgotten 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York was carried out by terrorists, most of whom were Saudi extremists.

The proliferation of child pornography around the world leads, in many cases, to direct contact with children for sexual assault and many acts are done with violence or the threat of it. Children are terrified and traumatised, and the graphic images of children being abused propels paedophiles to go out and do it in person, most likely in poor countries like the Philippines.  Cyber-sex is the sexual abuse of children over a live Internet connection to mostly Western paedophiles in the developed rich countries and they send payment by courier to the abusing persons to commit these despicable, heinous acts.  

Most of the evil child porn is hidden on the dark web, this is the encrypted part of the Internet where few ordinary people can access, and law enforcement can rarely go. But paedophiles and criminals roam freely with passwords and access. While police are constantly monitoring the Internet for child pornography and are very successful, much more remains undiscovered.

Many paedophiles travel abroad to sexually abuse vulnerable children. Preventing that is the intent of the successful Australian law banning convicted paedophiles from travelling abroad. A similar law has been pending before the Irish Parliament for almost two years, filed by independent member, Maureen O’Sullivan.  Its intent is to protect vulnerable children in the Philippines and elsewhere. 

The Irish parliamentarians, to their eternal shame, have failed to act on it. Now, the Irish government has called new elections and all pending laws will fall and have to be re-filed again. It is the game of politics as in the US decision to let the Saudi trainees go free that allows child abuse to proliferate.

Child porn images are spreading around the world via the Internet and Internet service providers (ISPs) in every country that do not have filters and child pornography-blocking technology are aiding and abetting these crimes against children. In the Philippines, where cyber-sex and child pornography is horrifying, the telecommunications companies are violating the law by not having these filters in place as demanded by the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, otherwise known as RA 9775. They have seemingly placed themselves above it and seem to have some government regulatory officials in their pockets. In addition to the Anti-child Pornography Law, they are also allegedly violating with impunity the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995 or RA 7925 and Executive Order No. 546 issued in 1979.

The strongest law, RA 9775, was passed in 2009 explicitly ordering the ISP’s to install software to block the transmission of child porn images and cyber-sex where children are forced to do sexual acts live on camera for customers in other cities or countries. But they have allegedly ignored it or persuaded law enforcers to look the other way and allow them to pay a “fine.”

It is alleged too that some officials of government telecommunication and law enforcement agencies have been allegedly captured or bought off so they will not enforce the law. The critics of these big telephone and Internet companies accuse them of making money out of the dirty business of child abuse and child pornography. They have not been charged or found guilty of any crime. This is amazing since the law was passed in 2009 yet cyber-sex and child porn is the most prolific Internet child crime in the Philippines up to the present.

In August 2013, I wrote the following in this column on this very subject: “Agencies in the Philippines such as the National Telecommunications Commission are mandated under RA 9775 (section 9) to enforce the law but seems to be looking the other away. The Anti-Child Porn Alliance (ACPA) is struggling against public and government apathy, inaction and indifference.”   

On 30 January 30 2014, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a memorandum circular ordering the ISPs to comply with the law. The memorandum order tells all ISPs to “install available technology, program or software that will block access or filter all web sites carrying child pornography materials.”  

Telecommunications companies such as PLDT, Globe, Smart and soon Huawei, apparently flout the law and refuse to comply. Child pornography is everywhere, even on the cellphones of children, so it’s clear the elite dynasties and their corporate partners run the country.

So will government protect the rights of children and place them before profits? 

Father Shay Cullen    

Author: SundayExam