February 28, 2024

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Securing the Digital Realm for Children: Countering AI Risks

Amidst the observance of the National Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in the Philippines, Senator Win Gatchalian has drawn attention to the growing concern of artificial intelligence (AI) exacerbating online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) and called upon the government to take decisive action.

Protecting children from detrimental online content has evolved into a more complex challenge with the emergence of AI-driven tools capable of manipulating and fabricating materials. Any successful strategy requires a multifaceted approach that combines technological solutions, regulatory frameworks, and parental supervision.

The proliferation of AI tools poses a significant danger to children, amplifying risks related to privacy, online safety, and psychological well-being. One primary concern is the potential for AI algorithms to collect and analyse vast amounts of personal data from children without their consent, leading to privacy breaches and exploitation.

Moreover, AI-powered content recommendation systems may inadvertently expose children to inappropriate or harmful material, such as explicit content, violence, or extremist ideologies, by amplifying their exposure to such content based on their browsing habits or preferences.

Addressing the alarming rise in AI-driven threats, including the manipulation of children’s images, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Undersecretary Angelo Tapales underscored the urgent need for vigilance, highlighting the potential for AI to escalate child exploitation.

Senator Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, emphasised the importance of addressing these evolving threats, stressing the need for legal accountability for those who exploit children through technology. He highlighted existing legislation, including the Anti-OSAEC and Anti-CSAEM Act (Republic Act No. 11930) and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 (Republic Act No. 11862), and the allocation of P30 million in the 2024 national budget for Anti-Trafficking in Persons Enforcement.

In addition to legislative measures, Senator Gatchalian urged parents to closely monitor their children’s online activities, recognising the potential for gadgets to facilitate exploitation. Citing revelations from a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) hearing, which identified the Philippines as the second-largest hotspot of OSAEC globally, Senator Gatchalian advocated for enhanced international cooperation to combat this pervasive issue.

As the nation grapples with the multifaceted challenges posed by AI-enabled child exploitation, increased awareness, legislative action, and proactive parental supervision are essential in safeguarding the well-being of children in the digital age.

The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) has sounded the alarm on the escalating threat of child sexual abuse and exploitation exacerbated by the emergence of AI technologies. Despite no reported cases in the Philippines as of yet, CWC Executive Director Angelo Tapales stressed the urgent need for vigilance as AI-generated materials proliferate globally, potentially leading to dire consequences such as child suicide.

Tapales urged parents and guardians to prioritise awareness, responsible internet usage, and adult training to shield children from harmful online content and enhance digital literacy, underscoring the critical importance of proactive measures in safeguarding vulnerable minors from the dangers of the digital landscape.

In addition to the AI-related concerns, recent reports have unveiled a troubling surge in online trafficking and exploitation of Filipino children. With nearly half a million children trafficked online via live streaming in 2022, the International Justice Mission (IJM) revealed alarming trends where perpetrators, often known to the victims, produce sexual exploitation materials.

Furthermore, data from the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children’s Protection Center highlighted over 17,600 reported cases of child rights violations in 2023, with a significant portion involving online sexual abuse and exploitation.

These developments underscore the pressing need for comprehensive legislative reforms and technological advancements to combat the evolving threats posed by digital platforms and ensure the safety and well-being of children in the digital age.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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