Wednesday, August 2, 2023

PLDT, Smart warn of AI-generated child abuse materials

PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) advocate for stronger cooperation among peers and the government to combat online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) as criminals turn to new technologies to share child abuse imagery online. 

“PLDT and Smart urge fellow child rights and child safety advocates to work together to come up with impactful anti-OSAEC programs that are adaptive to the rapidly changing environment,” said Angel Redoble, Chief Information Security Officer of PLDT and Smart. 

In the recent ‘Anti-trafficking in Persons Summit with Private Sector: Ensuring Digital Spaces for Children’ convened by the InterAgency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) led by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Redoble warned about the emerging threat of Artificial Intelligence or AI-generated child sexual abuse and exploitation materials (CSAEM). 

The UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has confirmed the sighting of AI-generated child sexual abuse images. Of the 29 reports it investigated between May 24 and June 30, the organization confirmed seven URLs (uniform resource locators) containing AI-generated CSAEM. IWF further says that some examples are so life-like they would be indistinguishable from real imagery to most people. 

“This development not only poses a challenge to the technology side of counteracting OSAEC, but it also tests the limits of our laws in addressing the menace,” added Redoble. 

PLDT and Smart’s membership to the IWF has been a vital cog in their pioneering Child Protection Platform which blocks CSAEM at the content level. IWF regularly provides ‘hashes’ to the PLDT Group which it blocks in real time. 

PLDT and Smart’s blocking tool houses a massive vault of OSAEC-related URLs containing more than 660,000 links that have been blocked from the PLDT and Smart network, preventing customers from accessing them. In the first half of the year, their Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) managed to block more than a million attempts to open sites that host child sexual abuse imagery. 

The PLDT Group’s initiatives to protect children online underscore its thrust to ensure product safety and the cyber security of its customers and end-users. These efforts also contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 16 which promotes just, peaceful, and inclusive societies including the end to abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

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