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The suffering caused by uncontrolled Internet

The shock and trauma of child sexual abuse caused by the uncontrolled content on Internet platforms and passing through the servers of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is life-lasting. Hundreds of thousands of children as young as three years old are damaged psychologically and traumatized by being sexually abused on live sex shows over the Internet and teenagers being videoed and their images of being abused passed around the world through the dark web through the Internet for the sexual satisfaction of pedophiles.

The child sexual abuse materials that are allowed on the platforms of the telecommunication corporations and hi-tech companies like TikTok, Google, Facebook, Twitter, PLDT, Globe, Dito and many more, are at an all time high. Thousands of children are being psychologically and sexually abused online as you read these words. Your children, your relatives’ children, could be among them.

Parents cannot know or control what their children are viewing and experiencing and with whom they are engaging over the Internet that could damage them for life. The values that you teach your children are being eroded by the grooming, seduction, violence, fake news, and sex images through the ISPs.

The telecommunication companies everywhere claim that they are immune from civil liability and not responsible for the content that terrorists, criminals or child sex abusers post on their social media platforms. It is a public billboard, free for all. That is because the US law, known as the Communications Decency Act of 1996 Section 230, grants immunity to the social media platforms- unlike newspapers, radio and television that are responsible and liable for content.

At the same time, this Section 230 is contradicted by laws forbidding content containing racism, misogyny, child abuse, excessive material promoting terrorism and the live-streaming of child sexual abuse shows and other offensive material. The powerful Philippine law RA 11930 forbids all child abuse materials and mandated the Philippine telecommunication companies to install blocking software, although many do not and are reluctant to allow independent inspections of compliance. Any individual to be found with such material on their cell phone or computer device could get at least twenty years sentence in jail.

Not so long ago, three 10- and 11- year old boys got hold of a smartphone and bought a cheap one- or two-hour internet connection load from a telecommunications Internet Service Provider. They easily found on-line and viewed child sexual abuse material and downloaded it and viewed it several times. They were so sexually aroused they found a six-year old girl and raped her, having viewed the offensive images on the Internet. Since it is allowed to be posted and not blocked, parents can do little to stop it. The ISPs will not stop it despite RA 11930 as police enforcers don't know how to monitor the ISPs.

The reality that such material is easily available online and can be easily found in the Internet by children, leading them to abuse other children, is shocking for society in what many wrongly think is a Christian and civilized world. Today, society is far from the values of the Gospel. The institutional Church teaches sacramental practice for believers to get to heaven and avoid hell.

It has largely failed, with exceptions, to evangelize and preach the Gospel of social justice, love of neighbor, and protection of children, but covers up child sex abuse by clergy.

The internet platforms and ISPs are enabling and abetting these crimes and through algorithms and Artificial Intelligence software, they are promoting them. These very issues are presently on trial in the US Supreme Court this week. The telecommunication and social media corporations claim that they are not responsible and have immunity from prosecution under Section 230 of the US 1996 Communications Decency Act, which holds that the corporations are not liable for what is posted by others on their sites.

This is contradicted, as said above, by other laws that insist that all platforms must monitor their platforms and remove all indecent materials that induce crime, hatred, racism, extreme violence, obscene and child abuse. The issue is: should section 230 be repealed and will the justices of the US Supreme Court do it or not and does that US law apply in the Philippine and overstep Philippine sovereignty? That’s for the Philippine courts to decide.

Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act makes a big difference between ISPs and other media publications like radio, television and newspapers, which are strictly restricted and can be sued for libel or obscene content. The ISPs, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, make billions of dollars by inducing customers to stay on their social media platforms as long as possible because of advertising revenues. To achieve this, they have resorted to using Artificial Intelligence software and algorithms to recommend, suggest and push more and more related material in front of the visitors to their sites to increase advertising earnings.

Even if that is promoting illegal material like child sexual abuse and exploitation or terrorists acts, it allegedly doesn't matter to them.

This is the issue before the US Supreme Court. The Gonzales family suffered the death of their children by terrorist attacks and are suing YouTube owned by Google for promoting the terrorist’s websites and terrorist recruitment and propaganda. They say YouTube and Google are aiding and abetting acts of terror that killed their child. Such acts are forbidden by the anti-terror laws.

The outcome of the US Supreme Court deliberations could be a shock for the powerful social media corporations that control so much of people’s lives, especially vulnerable children. Likewise, social media companies are using, aiding and abetting child abuse on-line by failing to block and are allowing child sexual abuse live shows to connect with customers and pass through the computers of the ISPs. They are using Artificial Intelligence software and algorithms to recommend, suggest and push more of these images to customers.

This is where they do not have the protection of Section 230. It is one thing to have material posted on their sites, which they say they try to take down, but to allow software to automatically find more abusive material and deliver it to the customer is a crime in itself, some say.

Will the US Supreme Court justices rule in favour of the social media corporations or in favor of protecting the public from this uncontrolled promotion of obscene images of child abuse? We will soon know when the decision is handed down if they have the intelligence and moral force to protect children or not.


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