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NTC, UNICEF and Telecommunications Sector collaborate to protect Filipinos online and offline

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are working with the telecommunications sector to ensure the security of parents and children both online and offline amidst the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Steps necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis, including enhanced community quarantine and lockdown measures, have made citizens turn increasingly to the internet for information and entertainment.

Many families are suffering under the economic burden that the control measures have brought on. The slowdown of industry, uptake of services and consumption of goods has had adverse effects on the income of large sections of the population.

In such as situation parents and children can become more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse both online and offline.

This was communicated by UNICEF in a letter to the NTC.

With the safety of parents and children in mind, the NTC has extended its support to UNICEF in spreading information to protect families at this crucial time.

The telecommunications sector has also committed to play a part. Service providers will be sending out text blasts with key messages. The text blast will run from April 7 until April 9, 2020.

The messages encourage subscribers to visit unicef.ph and saferkidsph.org for information and tips on how to support parents and children in managing the impact of COVID-19.

The above website of UNICEF – unicef.ph – contains UNICEF’s various programs, research and reports on issues affecting Filipino children, stories of beneficiaries, as well as ways people can help.

At present, the website also includes the latest updates and news on COVID-19, UNICEF’s initiatives on helping children affected by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as advice for parents and families on coping with the current situation.

SaferkidsPH, is an initiative of UNICEF, the Australian Embassy, Save the Children, and The Asia Foundation. Their website has information on how to reduce and prevent online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines.

Department of Information and Communications Technology, under which NTC falls, has expressed its appreciation of UNICEF’s initiative in reaching out to the government to help protect the nation’s children from online and offline threats.

Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said, “The DICT appreciates the proactive stance of UNICEF. From our side, we assure them and the public, in general, that DICT will continue to perform its cybersecurity duties to ensure the safety of all Filipinos, especially our children, amidst this crisis.”

OpenGov has earlier reported on the initiatives that DICT has taken to increase connectivity and provide access to educational material during the corona crisis.

As part of its initiatives to make the country safer during the testing times, DICT has provided data privacy protection and cybersecurity to RapidPass.ph

DICT has assured the public that the RapidPass.ph is compliant with data privacy requirements and has undergone the agency’s preliminary cybersecurity tests before its kick-off on Monday, April 6, 2020.

RapidPass.ph is the government’s initiative to fast track movement and access of frontline workers and priority vehicles during the enhanced community quarantine. The system is QR code-based.

DICT Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines, Emmanuel Rey Caintic, confirmed that the RapidPass.ph underwent an initial Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT).

Caintic said, “As the country’s primary policymaker, administrator, and champion of information and communications technology, the DICT welcomes the development of the RapidPass System as an invaluable contribution to digital solutions-building in the time of COVID-19.”

DICT has asked DEVCON to ensure that all the findings from the VAPT have been addressed. The DICT Cybersecurity Bureau will also continue the conduct of VAPT on the system and monitor its servers for possible threats.

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