The Anti-Child Pornography Act And The I-Cafés

Republic Act No. 9775 (R.A. 9775) or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 will have very serious implications in the operation of i-cafés especially if they get classified as internet service providers (ISPs). I have already tackled this issue in my blog post entitled Is I-Café An Internet Service Provider? and the question still remain as of my writing this article. The technical working group (TWG) comprised mostly of lawyers from various agencies of our government are still not convinced that i-cafés are just customers of ISPs as expressed by the representative of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) during the writeshop for the preparation of the final draft of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) last weekend. NTC is the government agency tasked by R.A. 9775 to prepare the technical portion of the IRR about the duties of an ISP.

In the said writeshop, the TWG did not give in to our request to clarify the definition of an ISP and specifically exclude i-cafés among the entities referred to in the definition of the term in the law. It was agreed that the NTC will be the one to specify who the ISPs are in the portion of the IRR that they will prepare. As it stands now, we have to wait for the final IRR that the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) will approve before we can say that the duties of an ISP as provided for in Section 9 of the Act do not belong to i-cafés.

Even if i-cafés will not be classified as ISPs, there is another provision in R.A. 9775 that can cause worry to an i-cafe owner with respect to the implementation of the law. This is Section 12 of the Act (Authority to Regulate Internet Café or Kiosk) that says, the local government unit (LGU) of the city or municipality where an internet café or kiosk is located shall have the authority to monitor and regulate the establishment and operation of the same or similar establishments in order to prevent violation of the provisions of this Act. The final draft of the IRR agreed in the writeshop provides for the preparation of a model ordinance by the IACACP that the local government units (LGUs) can copy but we can never be sure that an LGU will follow the template.

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