Again, Is I-Café An ISP?
I had previous articles on the subject of what is an Internet service provider (ISP) and on the question of whether an internet café (i-café) is an ISP or not. I was again confronted with the question when I had a meeting last week with the officers of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police specifically on their Internet child protection program called Project Angel Net. One of the CIDG officers mentioned about the responsibility of ISPs to block the downloading and uploading of child pornographic materials in the Internet and he was thinking of imposing this on i-cafés.
I took the opportunity to explain to them what transpired during the preparation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (RA 9775) where the participants also thought that i-cafés are covered by Section 9 of the said law until the representative from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) told the body that the term ISP refers to the telecommunication companies (telcos) and does not include i-cafés. However, the final version of the IRR for RA 9775 did not include the NTC pronouncement so per legal definition of an ISP under the said law, i-cafés may still be interpreted as being ISPs.
For clarity, let me quote again the definition of an ISP in Section 3(g) of RA 9775 as follows:
Internet service provider (ISP) refers to a person or entity that supplies or proposes to supply, an internet carriage service to the public.
Knowing the repercussions of having i-cafés classified as ISPs in the current law and in future ones that will adopt the same definition of an ISP, I search for a clearer definition of the term and found one at BusinessDictionary.com as follows:
Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a large-scale provider of internet connections, ISPs usually are the telephone companies who lease bulk Internet connections to internet access providers and information utilities, who in turn rent them to individual customers.
Going further, I proceeded to look at the definition of an internet access provider (IAC) on the same source and found the following:
Internet Access Provider (IAP) buys bulk-connections from the internet service providers (ISPs) and rent them to individual subscribers.
Clearly, i-cafés fall under IAPs (not ISPs) in the above definitions from BusinessDictionary.com and as an advocate for the i-café industry, I am sincerely hoping that our legislators and implementers of the law adopt these definitions. I also understand that it will require amending RA 9775 for i-cafés not to be covered by Section 9 of the said law.
There should be a Lobby Group that should spearhead the campaign for the amendment of RA 9775. Since most of the I-Cafe owners are highly individualistic, it will be extremely difficult to organize them into a potent group. Lobby work entails necessary expenses; transportation and representation costs, thus, raising funds will definitely be a big problem. Therefore, the Lobby Group will be a very iffy proposition.
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