Is I-Café An Internet Service Provider?

The subject of this article came up during the Regional Consultation on the Drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009). The said Act has for its Section 9 the Duties of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and participants in the consultation meeting were confused if the duties mention in the law apply to i-café owners. The confusion may have been caused by the law’s definition of an Internet Service Provider simply as “a person or entity that supplies or proposes to supply, an internet carriage service to the public” in its Section 3Definition of Terms.

Why is it important to clarify the definition of an ISP and exclude i-cafés  on its meaning in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9775? The reason why i-cafés must be taken out in the definition of an ISP is because Section 9 of the Act has the following provisions:

All internet service providers (ISPs) shall notify the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) within seven (7) days from obtaining facts and circumstances that any form of child pornography is being committed using its server or facility. Nothing in this section may be construed to require an ISP to engage in the monitoring of any user, subscriber or customer, or the content of any communication of any such person: Provided, That no ISP shall be held civilly liable for damages on account of any notice given in good faith in compliance with this section.

Furthermore, an ISP shall preserve such evidence for purpose of investigation and prosecution by relevant authorities.

An ISP shall, upon the request of proper authorities, furnish the particulars of users who gained or attempted to gain access to an internet address which contains any form of child pornography.

All ISPs shall install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.

An ISP who shall knowingly, willfully and intentionally violate this provision shall be subject to the penalty provided under Section 15(k) of this Act.

Can you imagine what will happen if RA 9775 is interpreted to include i-cafés as among the internet service providers with the above responsibilities under the law? This is no joke but many of those who attended the consultation meeting believe that the authors of the law have the i-cafés as the possible “scenes of the crime” so they also want them classified as internet service providers with the accompanying duties as provided for by the Act.

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