View Full Version : Anti-Cybercrime Law

10-04-2012, 09:55 PM
Journalists file 9th petition vs Anti-Cybercrime Law

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 10/03/2012 5:23 PM | Updated as of 10/03/2012 11:19 PM

*"From our sadness, we awakened to a shaft of light cutting through the darkness..."

These words are contained in President Benigno Aquino III's "A Social Contract with the Filipino People" that details the Aquino administration's platform of government.

These words were used in the context of a nation awakening from the pain brought about by the death of Mr. Aquino's mother, democracy icon and former President Corazon Aquino, who passed on in Aug. 2009.

Ironically, journalists opposing a new law, Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, signed by Mr. Aquino just last Sept. 12, are using these very words to serve as the "backdrop against which the looming darkness is to be dispelled."

In a 27-page petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction filed with the Supreme Court (SC), multi-media journalists, led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), assailed 13 provisions of RA No. 10175 and urged the high court to strike down the entire law or, in the alternative, declare as null and void the questioned provisions.

"Petitioners submit that with these provisions of the law being declared unconstitutional, the entire law is rendered without meaning and not capable of implementation. For that reason, the entire law must be struck down," the petition read.*

Petitioners assailed the constitutionality of the following:

-- Sec. 4(c)(4), which criminalizes libel on cyberspace;

-- Sec. 5(a), which lists "aiding or abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime" as an additional offense under the law;

-- Sec. 6, which raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications;

-- Sec. 7, which provides that apart from prosecution under the law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws;

-- Sec. 12, which authorizes law enforcement authorities to collect or record, by technical or electronic means, traffic data in real-time; -

-- Sec. 14, which authorizes law enforcement authorities, armed with a court warrant, to require "any person or service provider to disclose or submit subscriber's information, traffic data or relevant data in his/its possession or control within 72 hours from receipt of the order in relation to a valid complaint officially docketed and assigned for investigation;"

-- Sec. 15, which authorizes law enforcement authorities to search, seize and examine computer data;

-- Sec. 19, which authorizes the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to block access to computer data when such data "is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act;"

-- Sec. 20, which states that those who fail to comply with provisions of the law's Chapter IV (Enforcement and Implementation), specifically orders from law enforcement agencies, shall face imprisonment of prision correctional (6 months and 1 day to 6 years) in its maximum period or a fine of P100,000 or both, for each noncompliance;

-- Sec. 24, which creates, beginning effectivity of the law on Oct. 3, an inter-agency body under the Office of the President (OP) to be known as the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) for "policy coordination" and "formulation and enforcement of the national cybersecurity plan;"

-- Sec. 26(a), which details the powers and functions of the CICC;

-- Sec. 28, which provides for the crafting of the law's Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) by the Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST), DOJ, and the Dept. of Interior and Local Govt. (DILG); and

-- Sec. 29, pertaining to the separability clause which shields provisions of the law not rendered invalid from any declaration of invalidity by a competent court.

Petitioners argued that these provisions violate the freedom of expression (Sections 4(c) 4, 5(a),6 and 7); the constitutional guarantee of protection against double jeopardy (Sec. 7); right to due process and equal protection (Sections 6, 7 and 19); separation of powers between the Executive and Judicial branches (Sections 14, 15, 19, 24 and 26(a)); and the right to privacy of communication and correspondences (Sec. 12).

They also claimed that the law is rendered a Bill of Attainder (a legislative act that imposes punishment without a trial) by criminalizing the use of 'information and communications technology' by virtue of Sections 4(c)(4), 5(a), and 6, and by making non-compliance to orders by law enforcement authorities punishable criminally.

Petitioners stressed that the law "unduly restricts the rights and freedoms of netizens and impacts adversely on an entire generation's way of living, studying, understanding and relating."

"Petitioners ask this Court to rule on Republic Act No. 10175, a law that establishes a regime of 'cyber authoritarianism' and undermines all the fundamental guarantees of freedoms and liberties that many have given their lives and many still give their lives work to vindicate, restore and defend," the petition read.

The petition sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the implementation of the law and prevent the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management from releasing some P50 million to fund its implementation.

Petitioners also urged the high court to call for oral arguments on the case.

10-05-2012, 10:33 AM
The FB people who are on the bandwagon probably don't even know what they're protesting against. It just looks cool. Nothing different from RH Bill. To against RH is "uncool"

10-06-2012, 03:58 AM
Nothing new here. We are just following the lead of the US. I will not be surprised if this was also being endorsed by American interest. Eventually, the fascists/communists/extremists would like to control the Internet. This Bill may seem logical and necessary but it has the potential to be a weapon against civil liberties.

The "cool kids" that are against the bill? They are bandwagoneers who may or may not reallly understand the the bill. So too are the Egyptian youth hailed by US Press who "started" the Egyptian Revolution. They were "cool" kids. Now Egypt is ruled by Islamists. Oh Libya too.

As to ANON, who knows if they are part of the Black Ops of the Pentagon attacking websites all over the world to create the condition for an internet crackdown. False Flag operation like the USS Cole, USS Maine, Gulf of Tonkin Incident... who knows.

The internet is the last frontier..(I think). Control of the net is and will be a fascist/communist/extremist end goal.

Welcome to 1984.

10-08-2012, 11:03 AM
By JJ Disini

(JJ Disini is an associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law and an information technology law expert.)

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:23 pm | Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Recently, the President signed into law two key pieces of legislation—the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Act, both of which were meant to assist the development of the business process outsourcing industry in the country.

As late as last year, the Philippines reigned as the country with the biggest number of seats in the call center industry, as the BPO industry grew in terms of total revenue, foreign exchange inflow and employment generation.

BPO lobby

It is believed that the BPO industry needs the Cybercrime Act (the “Act”) to respond to the demands of foreign clients for a strong legal environment that can secure their data from being stolen and sold.

As early as 2000, the E-Commerce Act (ECA) already punished hacking but the penalties were deemed too light. The persons convicted served no jail time if they opted to plead guilty in exchange for probation in lieu of imprisonment.

Law enforcement agencies also faced various roadblocks when investigating cybercrime incidents. Even during emergency situations, service providers were reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement officers, citing the need to protect subscriber privacy.

Theoretically, search warrants would have addressed that problem but they were difficult to procure and involved a lengthy process that would have given cybercrime offenders enough time to delete precious data and cover their tracks.

In cross-border cybercrime incidents, law enforcement efforts were even more challenging since foreign governments were not equipped to respond quickly to requests for assistance and no international framework was in place to address cross-border investigations and prosecution.

To be sure, no one in government was asleep at the wheel. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), blessed with foreign-funded training in computer forensics and cybercrime investigation techniques, proceeded to organize and staff their cybercrime units. These were the two agencies that were very active in cybercrime investigation since the passage of the ECA.

Budapest Convention

Meanwhile, in the realm of international cooperation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially endorsed the Philippines’ accession to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention.

The treaty was fast becoming the vehicle to harmonize cybercrime definitions and promoted international cooperation in cybercrime enforcement and investigation. After all, the Budapest Convention was signed by many countries in Europe and even counted non-EU countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, China and South Africa as among its member-states.

It was against this backdrop that various cybercrime bills were deliberated upon, in both houses of Congress. Earlier attempts to enact the law failed and it would take Congress more than 10 years to pass the Cybercrime Act.

Salient features

The salient features of the Act include internationally consistent definitions for certain cybercrimes, nuanced liability for perpetrators of cybercrimes, increased penalties, greater authority granted to law enforcement authorities, expansive jurisdictional authority to prosecute cybercrimes, provisions for international cybercrime coordination efforts and greater ability to combat cybercrimes.

Indeed, many of the cybercrimes defined under the Act hewed closely to the Budapest Convention and it borrowed heavily from the convention’s definition of illegal access and interception, data and system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery and computer-related fraud.

Attempts now punishable

Under the ECA, cybercrimes can be prosecuted only if the offense was consummated. Unsuccessful intrusions or hacking incidents were not punishable. From a law enforcement standpoint, this means no arrest can occur until the harm or injury is actually inflicted upon the victims. Mere attempts were not punishable. Also, only the principal perpetrator was subject to criminal penalties.

These were addressed under the Act, where attempted cybercrimes are now punished and those who aid and abet the commission of cybercrimes are also made liable. This more nuanced approach to liability translates to greater flexibility in law enforcement and prosecution since cybercrimes can be stopped while being committed, though not yet consummated.

Stiffer penalties

The Act also increased the penalties from those imposed under the ECA. From the standard three-year prison term under the ECA, the Act increased the penalty to a period from six to 12 years for a lot of cybercimes. This ensured that any person convicted under the Act would surely face imprisonment since the option to apply for probation would no longer be available.

In direct response to the difficulties faced by law enforcement agencies in investigating cybercrime incidents, the Act gave greater authority to the PNP and NBI to engage in warrantless real-time collection of anonymized traffic data as well as the explicit authority to secure warrants for the interception of all types of electronic communication.

To prevent the destruction of precious evidence housed in various service providers like cell phone companies and broadband providers, the Act requires the preservation of data for a minimum of six months. This gives law enforcement authorities the ability to investigate past cybercrime incidents as well as lead time to get pertinent court orders to access such data.

The Act further specifies the means and manner by which law enforcement authorities should conduct computer-related searches and seizures of data, their custody, preservation and destruction.

Expanded jurisdiction

Since many cybercrimes are transnational in character, Congress vested in courts an expanded jurisdiction over the commission of cybercrimes. The pre-war Revised Penal Code took a more conservative stance and as a rule, the law was not applicable to acts committed outside the physical boundaries of the republic.

In contrast, the application of the Act was expanded beyond the Philippines so long as the perpetrator was a Filipino, or the effects of the cybercrime were felt within the country. In addition, the law applied if any of the elements were committed in the country or if these were done using equipment located here.

Cybercrime courts, office

Accordingly, to ensure the proper adjudication of cybercrimes, the Act mandates specialized training for judges in newly created cybercrime courts.

Since the Philippines has yet to enact the Budapest Convention and take advantage of the international cooperation available to its member-states, Congress, in the meantime, organized the Cybercrime Office at the DOJ and designated it as the central authority in all matters related to international mutual assistance and extradition. It is meant as a stop-gap measure, which hopefully can transition seamlessly when the country accedes to the treaty.

Emergency response team

Finally, the Cybercrime Act created the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center for policy coordination among concerned agencies and the formulation of a national cybersecurity plan that includes the creation of a computer emergency response team.

Clearly, the approach taken by Congress in the Cybercrime Act was to enlist the participation of various sectors of government to combat cybercrime not only at the national level but also internationally. While the BPO industry lobbied for the passage of the Act, it is undeniably a statute that applies to anyone who can potentially become a victim of cybercrime.

Unfortunately, not all statutes are perfect and although the best of intentions are embedded throughout the Act, some flaws in the law have caught the attention of the public, of late.

10-08-2012, 11:05 AM
^ (Continued)

Petitions in high court

Indeed, various petitions have been lodged in the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the Act’s provisions relating to libel, increased penalties, real-time collection of traffic data and the so-called takedown provision.

Online libel was not an original creation under the Act. In fact, as early as 2010, the Supreme Court recognized that comments on a blog entry could give rise to a prosecution for libel. To its credit, the high court reasonably interpreted the law. The complainant argued that it was permissible to choose where to initiate the case upon the theory that online libel was published simultaneously throughout the Philippines.

Recognizing that the law did not allow a party to choose inconvenient venues for online libel cases, the Court limited the choice to only one—the place where the complainant resides.

One degree higher

The Act’s libel provision seemed harmless on its face. The law itself imposed no specific penalty unlike in other cybercrimes mentioned in the statute. But the Act provides that online libel is punished by one degree higher and that the prosecution under the law would still be independent of a separate prosecution for libel under the Revised Penal Code.

Under the old regime, an accused facing libel can expect to face no more than four years and two months jail time. Under the Act, the maximum penalty shot up to 10 years. Since the penalties were cumulative, a single act of online libel can attract a maximum jail time of more than 14 years.

Double convictions

The double convictions and the increased penalties made the accused ineligible for probation, thus guaranteeing imprisonment.

Since the acts and the crime of online libel are the same as that defined in the Revised Penal Code, it has been argued that the law violates the rule against double jeopardy which seeks to protect citizens against being penalized twice for the same offense.

Also, by imposing increased penalties for ordinary crimes committed “by, through, or with the use” of information and communications technologies (ICTs), Congress was unfairly segregating users of ICTs and treating them more harshly.

Protection clause violated

There seems to be no rational basis for this classification and the discrimination imposed by Congress violates the equal protection clause that requires the government to treat all citizens equally.

Since the online libel law targets the fundamental right to free speech, the onus is upon the government to demonstrate a compelling state interest in penalizing online libel in this manner, and show that there was no less restrictive alternative available to promote that interest.

In the desire to empower law enforcement agencies, the Act authorizes the PNP and the NBI to conduct real-time collection of traffic data, or data about a communication’s origin, destination, route, date, size and duration, but excluding identities and content.

In the context of mobile communications, traffic data will reveal the originating number, the destination number, the time and date of the communication, as well as the length of the conversation or the size of the SMS message sent.


The law enforcement authorities may claim that the traffic data are anonymous, but the fact is that the law allows collection of “specified communications,” which necessarily means the PNP or NBI must already know something about the communications or the identity of their source.

Even if they did not, it is easy to know the identity of a cell phone’s owner by simply dialing the number and employing various social engineering techniques to get that information. Once the identity of the person has been determined, the real-time collection of traffic data effectively becomes a targeted surveillance.

That is not to say that government authorities are prevented from engaging in surveillance, but the Constitution requires the intervention of a judge and the issuance of a warrant before this authority can be exercised.

Sadly, the real-time collection of traffic data under the Act does not afford anyone the same protection. Indeed, the privacy of suspected terrorists are protected to a greater degree under the Human Security Act that at least requires the intervention of the Court of Appeals in any surveillance and the careful handling of the evidence collected.

No similar protections exist under the Act, not even in the case of ordinary citizens. Certainly, these violate the right to the privacy of communications, and the right against unreasonable searches and seizure.

Most odious provision

Finally, the most odious provision of the Act is the so-called takedown provision that authorizes the DOJ to block access to any content upon a prima facie (or first glance) finding of a violation of the provisions of the Act.

This means that a person who believes he has become the victim of an online libel can file a complaint in the DOJ and if at first blush it appears there has been a violation of the Act, an order will be issued directing Internet service providers to block the content.

Under this scenario, the DOJ has effectively become the judge, jury and executioner without the benefit of a trial or a conviction established beyond reasonable doubt.

No time limit

The takedown order has no time limit and can be in place for years or even forever. The complainant is not required to file a case in court while the takedown order is in place. In fact, it is likely that no such case will ever be filed since the remedy sought has already been obtained, as the online content is already gone.

The takedown power can even be invoked to block sites wholesale such as those that allegedly violate the Retail Trade Law (Amazon, Alibaba, Ebay, iTunes) or offer voice services without the benefit of a local franchise (Skype, Googletalk) or facilitate copyright infringement (Piratebay, Filestube, Bittorrent) or allow online gambling (Pokerstars) or violate the Data Privacy Act (Facebook, Friendster).

These cumulative blocks and filters permit the DOJ to establish the Philippine equivalent of the Great Firewall of China. Certainly, with this takedown provision, the DOJ will be the most powerful authority on all matters involving the Philippine online community.

Prior restraint

From a free speech standpoint, the takedown provision is an effective prior restraint to the right of a person to express himself.

Even though the blocking of the content happens after the speech is made, the censorship that is done immediately or shortly after the posting of the allegedly offensive content, without the benefit of a trial or proof beyond reasonable doubt, is no different from preventing the speech itself.

Under constitutional law a prior restraint upon the freedom of expression is not permitted and is presumed to be unconstitutional.

The burden rests with the state to show that the suppression of speech is necessary to avoid a clear and present danger of evils, which such speech will bring about and which the State has a right to prevent.

In the case of the takedown provision, the grant of overbroad authority to the DOJ under all circumstances makes it difficult to hurdle the challenges against its constitutional infirmity.

10-08-2012, 11:07 AM
Most people would agree that there is a need to curb the prevalence of cyberbullying. But should it be at the expense of free speech?

By Alfredo Morales Santos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:59 pm | Friday, October 5th, 2012

Like the lights on a building going out one by one, I watched my newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter get crowded with black squares as people switched their headers and profile pictures to demonstrate their protest against the anti-cybercrime law.

A screen capture of an inane question from a senatorial aspirant, on whether the law infringes on the freedom of expression, was immediately trending.

Sen. Tito Sotto, everyone’s favorite punching bag, was immediately at the forefront of the discussion, landing in Forbes. National heroes like José Rizal and Apolinario Mabini were pictured gagged with a censoring black bar. The Internet Armageddon is about to hit Philippine cyberspace.

The anti-cybercrime law received outright condemnation from various sectors in and outside the Philippines. The primary issue against it is the provision on cyberlibel snuck in by Sen. Tito Sotto, who proudly admitted it, and sees nothing wrong with having done so.

A columnist in Forbes magazine said the law, due to the provision on cyberlibel, makes the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the US seem reasonable, as the latter only seeks to take down “file-sharing.” International organizations, along with the local human rights watch, had expressed concerns that this is a step backward for the Philippines, which is already behind the international community in decriminalizing libel.


Under the new law, cyberlibel imposes a penalty of reclusion perpetua, a greater penalty than ordinary libel. Sotto reasoned that if mainstream media are liable for ordinary libel, what is so special with bloggers and users of social media that merits exception to the threat of penalty? He says the law will make the people act more responsibly on cyberspace. He is on a mission to civilize, to single-handedly change the culture on the Internet.

“Yes, I did it. I inserted the provision on libel. Because I believe in it and I don’t think there’s any additional harm.”—Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (in an article written by Paul Tassi, published in www.forbes.com, Oct. 2).

Statements like this, in the word of the Forbes columnist, only reveals a lack of understanding of how the Internet works. It is saddening because it also shows a disconnect between the upper rung of the power structure in the Philippines and the general populace, particularly with the middle class, who use the Internet to express grievances against the government.

This does a great disservice to the cause. Most people would agree that there is a need to curb the prevalence of cyberbullying. But should it be at the expense of free speech? The problem with the provision on cyberlibel is, it is vague, with enough wiggle room to enable the government to crack down on dissenters.

Internet giant Google, the second most valuable company in the world, decreed, “Democracy works on the Web.” Cyber-space recently showed this in action on Reddit, when a college student posted a photo of a Sikh woman sporting body hair. It immediately received a backlash, and overturned the table in favor of the woman who shared her belief with the users of the social media.

There are studies that show that anonymity on the Internet makes people more mean, because it allows them to escape accountability. Websites, especially news outlets, responded to this problem by installing the service Disqus, which obliges readers to use Facebook and other social media to identify themselves, to allow readers to comment. This has resulted in more intelligible discourses on the web.

There is still the problem of fictitious accounts. But it’s a problem that is nearing a solution, too. Facebook has recently cracked down on fake accounts on their website. The point is, like a free market, the Web has a way of regulating and correcting itself without need for too much interference from the government.

Jeff Jarvis, in his book “What Would Google Do,” documents how netizens use the Internet to express their dissatisfaction with corporation. Jarvis popularly took on hardware maker Dell due to its bad customer service. He subsequently collaborated with the tech giant on how to make their product better. Jarvis continues on this theme, expounding on how the Internet enables “power sharing” between corporations and the ordinary consumer. The concentration of power in corporation is democratized through the Internet—and it works!

This is the same thing that’s happening in the Philippines. Filipinos are the top users of social media websites like Facebook. We have shifted from being the text capital of the world to being the social-media capital of the world. It was only a matter of time when this shift also influenced how we govern ourselves. Filipinos quickly express their grievances against the government on Facebook newsfeed, instead of physically taking it to the parliaments of the streets.

Government leaders and officers were quickly dumbfounded by the instant publicity for their inactions and mistakes. They found themselves in a situation where their power meant nothing. The Internet has shifted control to the Filipinos on Facebook and Twitter.

But there are government leaders who quickly acknowledged this reality. Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Chiz Escudero are among the popular politicians on Twitter, and they engage their followers and address their grievances.

Escudero said the cyberlibel provision was a mistake, while Cayetano admitted, on Twitter, that she missed out on the provision.

New media

President Aquino actively used social media in his 2010 campaign, even installing a New Media group under Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement. Interestingly, Sotto is inactive on social media.

To be fair to President Aquino, his only course of action is to sign the law or veto it as a whole (line vetoing is only allowed in budget acts). He must have weighed the good and the bad of the law, and found that there is a pressing need to curb evils like child pornography, piracy and hacking, among others. The ball is now with the Supreme Court, and it is up to them to strike down provisions that it deems in conflict with the Constitution. Escudero and Cayetano have already filed an amending bill.

The fiasco over the anti-cybercrime law only goes to show the ability of Internet users to influence government and serve as a platform to counter legislation and policies that are deemed detrimental to the people. Leaders are able to quickly see the clamor for it, and respond. Not only does the Internet make for a participative government; it also compels the government to be more responsive.

My newsfeed is still on a blackout. It makes chatting a little tricky, but it’s a small sacrifice to make to take a stand against the provision on cyberlibel.

10-08-2012, 11:09 AM
Cybercrime and cyberspeech

By Florin T. Hilbay

11:30 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

With the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 10175), the government has entered the online thicket in a substantial way. Petitions have been filed questioning the validity of the Act, giving the Supreme Court the opportunity to define our rights in digital space. This is an important case because the Internet has become an important platform for individual and social activities that generate meaning and profits, produce identities and opportunities, or structure views and conversations. In my opinion, even a generous reading will not save RA 10175; it is unconstitutional because it is overbroad.

Let us assume that the government can prohibit online all the activities it can prohibit offline—libel, identity theft, child porn, trespass, malicious mischief, estafa, among others. Further assume that the government can legitimately increase the penalties for online crimes on the theory that cybercrime poses greater dangers to society. Assume even further that the government can engage in “real-time collection of traffic data” in the same way that it can monitor traffic on public streets. Finally, assume that the Department of Justice’s authority to “issue an order to restrict or block access to computer data” that prima facie violates the law is akin to the authority of a police officer to make arrests for crimes committed in her presence. Will the law still be unconstitutional?

The answer is yes. This is because of the special nature of freedom of speech and of the press. What this means is that our Constitution requires that the government make a distinction between speech that offends private citizens and those that hurt public officers and public figures or talk about matters of public interest. The government has the right to protect private identity and reputation, whether online or offline; it also has the right to protect its citizens against fraud, trespass, and malicious commercial activity.

But the Constitution disables it from interfering with citizens’ attempt to praise, criticize, or even make fun of public figures and public officers, or discuss public issues. Decisional rules compel the government to clearly make this distinction under pain of nullity.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act is a classic case of a law that suffers from the vice of overbreadth. In constitutional parlance, the doctrine states that “a government’s purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to regulation may not be achieved by unnecessarily broad means that sweep into and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.” Such constitutional policy is meant to impose upon the legislature a high standard of precision in the drafting of laws that affect free speech. Whereas ordinarily the poor draftsmanship of a law is not a ground to have it declared unconstitutional, in cases where free speech is affected the courts require both clarity in language and fidelity to speech-protective norms. The reason for this is that a badly written or overbroad statute can produce a chilling effect, a situation where people who are otherwise within their rights to speak choose to err on the side of caution and thus decide to keep their peace. This risk-averse attitude freezes the speech environment and prevents citizens from exercising their freedoms in order to check the government, make public officials accountable, or talk about controversial ideas.

As a preventive measure, constitutional litigation rules allow in these situations what is known as a facial challenge or an attack on the validity of the entire statute. Normally, citizens are allowed to question only the constitutional validity of laws that apply to and have been enforced against them. But given the importance of avoiding a chilling effect on free speech, an exception is made. The consequence is that the rules of standing (on whether or not a citizen has the right to file the case in the first place) are substantially relaxed, enabling courageous citizens whose rights are secure the opportunity to litigate the case in favor of the silent majority. Finally, if the court finds even a single portion of the statute violative of free speech rights, it is justified in striking down not only the offending proviso but the entire statute. The net effect is to give the legislature another shot at drafting the statute, bearing in mind the need to protect free speech values while regulating non-speech-related activity.

Applying these rules, the only defect that the various petitioners before the Supreme Court need to show is the absence of a distinction in the DOJ’s so-called takedown powers between speech and non-speech-related activity. Thus, even if the DOJ can block access to computer data used to commit cybersquatting, identity theft, defamation of private persons, or fraud, the absence of a distinction in the law that protects citizens from the takedown clause for cyberspeech against public officers and public figures nullifies the entire statute.

For those less interested in constitutional theory, I offer some basic rules: What the government cannot do offline with your rights, it likewise cannot do just because you went online. If you have the right to bully Sen. Vicente Sotto and his loyal staff of unrepentant plagiarists by rallying in front of the Senate and spending hard-earned money on leaflets and tarpaulins to criticize them, then you certainly also have the right to spend precious bandwidth to cyberbully them.

Florin T. Hilbay is an associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law, where he teaches constitutional law. He is also the director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center.

10-08-2012, 11:11 AM
Government clueless

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:31 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Edgardo Angara, author of the anticybercrime law, justifies it in this way: “Why was the penalty (for libel) raised? The only rationale I can think of is that because of the novelty and swiftness, and the spread and reach of information and communications technology, it becomes an aggravating circumstance. With one click, you can send it (the libelous statement) all over the world.”

That is all very well, except for one thing. Who’s to say a statement is libelous or not?

If this law had been in effect five months ago, Renato Corona might never have been ousted. Among the things that ousted him was the netizens themselves making their sentiments known to the senators—a thing that posed tremendous consequences for the elections. The wording of those sentiments would have made a great deal of them arguably libelous, or at least slanderous. Corona would have considered it so. The justices would have considered it so. They could have used the law to make an example of a blogger, Twitter-er, Facebook-er, or two to stop the tide of public outrage and vituperation against them.

With this law, no one will be called a thief again. No one will be called an opportunist, fascist, or idiot again. No one will be called a politician with the morals of a prostitute again. No one may be permitted to say so—except Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg about what’s wrong with the law. The bulk of it is that by looking at the possible abuses of cyberspace, the law turns a blind eye to its awe-inspiring power to make the public matter in social discourse. By attempting to curb the excesses of cyberspace, the law curbs instead its history-altering capacity to effect change. The medium is new and it is novel. Which only drives home the point that the law was made by people who are either clueless about it, or glimpse its power and want precisely to stop it from subverting their entrenched position.

In fact, cyberspace is the most liberating and democratizing force to have come to us in a long time, perhaps for the first time.

Elsewhere in the world we’ve seen that—in the Arab Spring, or the uprisings in Egypt and neighboring countries against despotic rule. WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, had a point when he told a sideline meeting of the UN recently that Barack Obama was a hypocrite to say that America was the inspirer of those revolts: “It must come as a surprise to Tunisians (that) the US supported the forces of change in Tunisia.” In fact, he said, WikiLeaks had more to do with it, with its exposés of the nastiness of the now deposed rulers, among them Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But we see as well in Assange’s fate—he has been forced to hide in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the heart of London to avoid being fed to the wolves—what an anticybercrime law has in store for transgressors.

Closer to home, you see the immense power of cyberspace to democratize this country in a couple of ways.

One is that it offers a way for the citizens to get back at the people who oppress them. Certainly, it offers a way to put the corrupt to shame. Which makes it the most ironic thing in the world that the anticybercrime law was passed under the very government that professes to fight corruption. I’ve said it again and again: Government alone cannot stop corruption, it needs the help of the public to do it. The public can do that by making the corrupt pay a high price for corruption.

That is how it’s done in other countries. In Japan and Korea, the culture itself does the trick: Shame and dishonor are enough to make the shamed and dishonored disembowel themselves. In America and Western Europe, public opinion does the trick: Public revulsion and opprobrium are enough, if not to make the publicly reviled and detested hang themselves, at least to make them resign.

Here, it’s cyberspace, which is far more spontaneous and unfettered than the mainstream media and, more importantly, which directly reflects the views of the public, that has the potential, and power, to do that.

With one click, calling someone a crook will be sent all over the world? Well, if he is a crook—and the public officials netizens call so are invariably so—I’m glad the information is sent instantaneously to the world. Certainly I’m glad it is sent instantaneously to the person concerned, the better for him to know that we know, mahiya ka sa balat mo, naturingan ka pa namang public servant.

Two, and far more importantly, like I said last time, what makes the Western democracies real democracies is that the people do not just participate in national life by voting but by shaping policies and decision-making through public opinion. That public opinion isn’t expressed only when survey-takers ask them what they think of things, it is expressed voluntarily, constantly, naturally. It’s not sporadic, it’s permanent. It’s not occasional, it’s continuous. It’s not a footnote to governance, it’s the text of governance.

More than anything else, it’s cyberspace that has made that possible for us. Almost unnoticed, it has come to us like a gift from the gods. Overnight it has become possible for ordinary citizens (the youth in particular) to have their say on life, without having to go to the radio to complain, without having to write letters to the editor (and compete with a thousand other letters) to set things right, without feeling powerless in the face of being wooed like lovers as voters but dismissed like beggars as citizens.

And the senators—with the luminous exception of T.G. Guingona who had the imagination to vote against the law, and who continuously oppose the law—will spit on this gift as though it were a curse. No wonder the netizens are fit to be tied.

And government is clueless why.

10-08-2012, 11:12 AM
Malacañang on cybercrime and FOI: An ideological connection?

By Walden Bello

11:22 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

It could have remained Sotto’s Folly, the cybercrime law with the controversial libel provision that Senator Vicente Sotto III inserted during the Senate deliberations on the bill.

But with the president strongly standing by his signing it into law, the bill has now become P-noy’s Cyberfolly. He could have said, I made a mistake, and I’m open to amending it, like Senators Edgardo Angara and Francis Escudero did. But he chose to draw a line in the sand and say here I stand.

A flawed law

I belong to the same coalition led by the president, but I have to differ with him on this issue. Let me state very simply the reasons why.

First of all, instead of decriminalizing libel, as so many legal and constitutional experts have strongly suggested, the law extends it to the cyberspace, thanks to the sly maneuver of that plagiarist Tito Sotto and the somnambulistic behavior of most senators and the members of the Senate-House bicameral committee.

Second, the libel law is invoked for a totally inappropriate context. There are editorial controls that operate when it comes to the established media. These professional restraints are not available on the Internet and social media, which promote and facilitate the expression of individual opinion in its most spontaneous forms. The Internet is the premium arena for free speech, where people should be able to express themselves without fear. This does not mean that there are no checks on information and opinion, as Senator Angara claimed when he said without the cybercrime law, the Internet would be the “Wild West.” Opinions expressed on the Internet are taken provisionally by most users, who only get convinced of the truth of an allegation after the flurry of exchanges on the net. The allegation that Senator Sotto is vehemently against the RH Bill because he wants to be the ambassador to the Vatican can be easily proven to be false via the Internet’s self-policing via research-based exchange, just as the allegation that he is a shameless plagiarist can be easily proven true by the same process.

Third, there is absolutely no basis for the provision that makes the penalty for cybercrime, including libel, one degree higher than is provided for in the Revised Penal Code.

There are other disturbing provisions, such as Section 19, which would authorize the Department of Justice to issue an order to take down a website simply on assessment that it is engaged in prima facie violations of the provisions of the cybercrime law.

This power is too broad and can easily be abused.

Why the President’s solution is no solution

Amending the law is obviously the way to go, one that would be strengthened should the Supreme Court find the law unconstitutional. But the President has refused to entertain this route, offering instead to reduce penalties for internet libel.

President Aquino’s offer, however, is no solution at all since the problem is the insertion of the libel provision itself. This is not only against free speech and thus unconstitutional, but it will have a chilling effect on Internet traffic. To reiterate, people should have be able to call Sotto a plagiarist, Vice President Binay a power-hungry politician, Erap a clown, the President a paternalistic elitist, Senator Enrile an unprincipled power broker, and Senator Trillanes an agent of China without fear of being slapped with a libel suit the next day. Let the Internet process of reply and counter-reply based on the use of evidence and counterevidence resolve the issue. This process, after all, has been found effective in producing the best and most balanced encyclopedia around, Wikipedia. And believe me, most Internet users are hardened skeptics: they won’t fall for claims that have the slightest whiff of falsehood about them, though there are, of course, always a few exceptions.

My main concern here, however, is to raise the possible connection between the President’s standing firm on cyberlibel and Malacanang’s lack of enthusiasm for the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI), which incidentally P-noy promised to prioritize during his campaign for the presidency. The cybercrime law effectively restricts freedom of expression. FOI is an enabling law that would facilitate freedom of expression by institutionalizing access to government information that would otherwise remain under wraps.

Bad advice or ideological stance?

Some say that Malacanang’s attitude to both bills reflects a wariness of both established and social media. When I asked him why Malacanang did not make FOI a priority, one Palace official, without invoking confidentiality, told me flat out that the Palace had problems with the bill because “the press already has too much power.” This person might have merited an A+ for frankness but an F on free speech and freedom of information, which are among the pillars of a democracy.

How much of Malacanang’s lack of support for FOI stems from the President himself? And was it the President himself who insisted on standing firm on the libel provision? Or did his stand on both issues come mainly from bad advice?

I certainly hope it is the latter, for that would mean there is a greater possibility of a retreat on the Cybercrime Prevention Act and regaining momentum on FOI. But if it is a case of an ideological position—that is a conservative, elitist stance on free speech and transparency issues—then this is truly disturbing. For the success of the governance reforms, like the anti-corruption campaign, that the President is now promoting, cannot ultimately be separated from the expansion of free speech and deepening of transparency.

10-08-2012, 11:14 AM
Incredible shrinking senator: the Web revolt that shook Sotto’s world

By Benjamin Pimentel

2:39 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – Social media and the World Wide Web are still relatively new, so intense debates on such issues as free speech, privacy and cybercrime are to be expected and even necessary.

But Tito Sotto is trying to drag the discussion to the lowest level possible.

“Gusto nila magpa-file naman ako ng bill, alisin na natin ang libel para pwede ko na rin silang murahin (If they want, I will file a bill to remove libel so I can also engage them in mudslinging),” the senator said in a radio interview, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Pwede, alisin natin para parehas na ang laban. Maganda yan, pag-aaralan ko yan hanggang Lunes (We can remove that to have a fair play. That’s a good idea. I will study that until Monday),” he said.

Welcome to the world of the incredible shrinking senator.

Beyond the debates on reproductive rights and the new anti-cybercrime law, Sotto’s rant creates another dilemma for Filipinos: How in the world do you explain to young Filipinos that a senator of the republic is behaving like a kid throwing a tantrum in the playground because other children refuse to play by his rules?

Some lawmakers and public officials argue that the reaction to the cybercrime law is overblown, that there really is now a plan to arrest anyone for simply liking a post or sharing a tweet.

But many other legal experts and press freedom advocates highlight the potential for abuse. This was underscored by the controversy over an alleged Philippine National Police Facebook account which posted a warning, “Foul words against our police officers can be used as evidence now to file a case against you in a court of law.”

The PNP has denied that it has anything to do with the account. But whoever posted the comment sure sounded like they knew what they were talking about, and are gleefully excited by the power the new law gives law enforcers.

“Watch out the CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime is now conducting background investigation against you,” the post said, even boasting that the PNP “has sets of equipment comparable or even more sophisticated/latest that other cybercrime units in the world … They can detect the location of the owner of Facebook account of a certain person.”

Besides, the context in which this new provision is important – Sotto pushed it after social media exposed him. This was not in reaction to lies and falsehoods. This was in reaction to truth.

The bloggers made the public and the mainstream media aware of his use of passages without proper attribution– and now Sotto is hitting back.

There’s also a debate on the country’s libel laws as advocates also push for the decriminalization of libel.

But Sotto also showed that he has no interest in having a mature, thoughtful discussion on an important issue, saying in the radio interview “Alisin na natin ang gag sa masama [sa] broadcast, sa radyo, sa TV. Kung malaya sa Internet, pwede silang mambastos, mambaboy…gawin na din natin sa media. Kailangan pare-parehas.”

Still, the Sotto fiasco has had one positive effect – it gave Filipino netizens a chance to demonstrate their power.

They did it last year when a video clip of a crying dancing boy on Willie Revillame’s show sparked such intense outrage that TV5 was forced to change its policies related to kids and spurred greater awareness of how children are treated on television.

Filipino netizens are flexing their muscles again today. You can check out some of the best cybercrime law memes here.

One even shows that Sotto is wrong to say Filipino netizens are picking on him. Even President Benigno Aquino III, who signed the law after all, is facing criticism.

The meme shows a picture of the late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and the caption, “Mr. President, this man died to give Filipinos a voice. … Oh wait, he’s your dad.”

Someone even turned the alleged PNP warning posts into a meme that pokes fun at the Aquino administration’s tourism slogan. The heading reads: “Freedom of Speech. More fun in the Philippines.”

10-08-2012, 11:23 AM
Cybercrime and cyberspeech

By Florin T. Hilbay

11:30 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

With the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 10175), the government has entered the online thicket in a substantial way. Petitions have been filed questioning the validity of the Act, giving the Supreme Court the opportunity to define our rights in digital space. This is an important case because the Internet has become an important platform for individual and social activities that generate meaning and profits, produce identities and opportunities, or structure views and conversations. In my opinion, even a generous reading will not save RA 10175; it is unconstitutional because it is overbroad.

Let us assume that the government can prohibit online all the activities it can prohibit offline—libel, identity theft, child porn, trespass, malicious mischief, estafa, among others. Further assume that the government can legitimately increase the penalties for online crimes on the theory that cybercrime poses greater dangers to society. Assume even further that the government can engage in “real-time collection of traffic data” in the same way that it can monitor traffic on public streets. Finally, assume that the Department of Justice’s authority to “issue an order to restrict or block access to computer data” that prima facie violates the law is akin to the authority of a police officer to make arrests for crimes committed in her presence. Will the law still be unconstitutional?

The answer is yes. This is because of the special nature of freedom of speech and of the press. What this means is that our Constitution requires that the government make a distinction between speech that offends private citizens and those that hurt public officers and public figures or talk about matters of public interest. The government has the right to protect private identity and reputation, whether online or offline; it also has the right to protect its citizens against fraud, trespass, and malicious commercial activity.

But the Constitution disables it from interfering with citizens’ attempt to praise, criticize, or even make fun of public figures and public officers, or discuss public issues. Decisional rules compel the government to clearly make this distinction under pain of nullity.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act is a classic case of a law that suffers from the vice of overbreadth. In constitutional parlance, the doctrine states that “a government’s purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to regulation may not be achieved by unnecessarily broad means that sweep into and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.” Such constitutional policy is meant to impose upon the legislature a high standard of precision in the drafting of laws that affect free speech. Whereas ordinarily the poor draftsmanship of a law is not a ground to have it declared unconstitutional, in cases where free speech is affected the courts require both clarity in language and fidelity to speech-protective norms. The reason for this is that a badly written or overbroad statute can produce a chilling effect, a situation where people who are otherwise within their rights to speak choose to err on the side of caution and thus decide to keep their peace. This risk-averse attitude freezes the speech environment and prevents citizens from exercising their freedoms in order to check the government, make public officials accountable, or talk about controversial ideas.

As a preventive measure, constitutional litigation rules allow in these situations what is known as a facial challenge or an attack on the validity of the entire statute. Normally, citizens are allowed to question only the constitutional validity of laws that apply to and have been enforced against them. But given the importance of avoiding a chilling effect on free speech, an exception is made. The consequence is that the rules of standing (on whether or not a citizen has the right to file the case in the first place) are substantially relaxed, enabling courageous citizens whose rights are secure the opportunity to litigate the case in favor of the silent majority. Finally, if the court finds even a single portion of the statute violative of free speech rights, it is justified in striking down not only the offending proviso but the entire statute. The net effect is to give the legislature another shot at drafting the statute, bearing in mind the need to protect free speech values while regulating non-speech-related activity.

Applying these rules, the only defect that the various petitioners before the Supreme Court need to show is the absence of a distinction in the DOJ’s so-called takedown powers between speech and non-speech-related activity. Thus, even if the DOJ can block access to computer data used to commit cybersquatting, identity theft, defamation of private persons, or fraud, the absence of a distinction in the law that protects citizens from the takedown clause for cyberspeech against public officers and public figures nullifies the entire statute.

For those less interested in constitutional theory, I offer some basic rules: What the government cannot do offline with your rights, it likewise cannot do just because you went online. If you have the right to bully Sen. Vicente Sotto and his loyal staff of unrepentant plagiarists by rallying in front of the Senate and spending hard-earned money on leaflets and tarpaulins to criticize them, then you certainly also have the right to spend precious bandwidth to cyberbully them.

Florin T. Hilbay is an associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law, where he teaches constitutional law. He is also the director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center.

Atty Hilbay, extending this legal logic of yours, can we also say that that which you cannot get away with offline you cannot get away with online as well?

If you libel someone in a column that sees print in the Inquirer and are prosecuted for it, should you not also be prosecuted for libeling someone in a column that gets posted on the Inquirer's online edition?

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 09:54 AM
Cyberbullies’ whipping boy hits back at foes

By Cathy C. Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:38 am | Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Monday denied allegations he surreptitiously slipped in higher penalties for online libel in the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Calling himself “the cyberbullies’ whipping boy,” Sotto said he was not even among the original authors of previous drafts of the law when these were filed mostly in 2011.

Those who filed separate bills on the subject included Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Edgardo Angara, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Manuel Villar, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ramon Revilla Jr., Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, according to Sotto.

The consolidated report of all the drafts was presented by Angara on May 11, 2011. Individual amendments were introduced mostly in January 2012.

Sotto said he received brickbats from critics for supposedly delivering plagiarized speeches on the reproductive health (RH) bill only in August and September this year.

By that time, both the Senate and the House of Representatives had reconciled the disagreeing provisions of their versions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

This means, according to Sotto, he could not have been inspired to introduce amendments that would in effect raise the penalties for online libel since Congress had already finished its business on the matter.

“Cyberbullies should not be too presumptuous. They have a feeling that the Senate would enact a law for them? Excuse me,” Sotto said in a privilege speech.

The senator stressed he gave the speech “to set the record straight, stop the blame-tossing and address the paranoia” of his critics.

Angara earlier announced his plan to file amendments to the cyberlaw after netizens raised a howl over the higher penalties for online libel and a provision giving the justice department “takedown” powers to discipline offensive websites.

Santiago said the Supreme Court could declare the existing law unconstitutional for its “over-broad and too vague” provisions.

Repeal of penalties

Also on Monday, Sen. Loren Legarda filed a bill seeking to repeal the law’s libel penalties. “I hope to eliminate the chilling effect that may impose undue boundaries on our people’s exercise of freedom of expression,” she explained.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, in a statement e-mailed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, warned the new law even penalized not only users of the Internet but also of cell phones.

He said the law covers any medium of ICT (information and communication technology) media, including voice and video, and defines computers and computer system as “any type of computer device, including devices with data processing capabilities like mobile phones, smartphones, computer networks and other devices connected to the Internet.”

“This practically means that communications and data on any type of phone or ICT device are covered by this very repressive law,” he said.

He said candidates—who might try to put down an opponent via text messages—could find themselves in trouble.

“This means if I text my friends that a certain candidate is a ‘cheap, second-rate, trying hard copycat,’ that person can haul me to court for violating the cybercrime law and have me locked up for 10 years,” Casiño said.

“The mere possibility that one can be charged for online libel is enough to silence ordinary people and stop them from expressing critical ideas,” he added.

Samuel Matunog, vice president of Davao ICT Inc., said the law could also kill the bullish ICT sector.

He said the law allowed the Department of Justice to shut down or block access to a computer data, if found to be violating the act. This could potentially bring millions of damage to the industry, he said.

“What if malicious pranksters will just lodge unfounded complaints? Before we know it, our computers are already blocked,” Matunog said. With reports from Allan Nawal and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 09:55 AM
NBI closing in on ‘hacktivists’—De Lima

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:36 am | Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said she had directed the National Bureau of Investigation to start profiling personalities allegedly behind the hacking and defacement of government websites in protest against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

De Lima said the NBI had pinpointed “several” personalities since the attacks last week and was verifying whether they belonged to a group.

“They are looking whether these were deliberate acts or were done just for fun,” she told reporters.

On Monday morning, a Turkish group calling itself “Aksuvari Gandalf” defaced the website of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“The DOTC Management Information System (MIS) Office quickly published the original content of dotc.gov.ph using the most recent backup it had of the website,” said the department’s spokesperson, Nick Conti.

“The DOTC MIS and its hosting provider conduct regular backups of the website so we are prepared for cases of vandalism such as this,” Conti said.

No uploaded DOTC files were deleted or corrupted, he said. However, he said the attack was not connected with the campaign waged by “hacktivists.”

In a news briefing Monday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said no amount of online attacks could stop the drafting beginning today at the Department of Justice of the implementing rules and regulations of the cybercrime law.

“I understand it’s open to the public. Certainly there will be invitations to the media and to the IT community because the focus here is cybercrime protection: How does one address the cybercrime provisions and how does one implement those provisions?” With reports from Christine O. Avendaño, Paolo G. Montecillo and Michael Lim Ubac

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 09:58 AM
Aquino may be ousted for cybercrime law, says lawmaker

By Jerome Aning, Cathy Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:42 am | Monday, October 8th, 2012

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, one of the complainants against newly enacted Republic Act No. 10075 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, on Sunday said President Benigno Aquino could be impeached for enforcing the controversial law.

Palatino said the President’s insistence on the retention of the libel provisions in the law would result in the abridgement of the freedom of speech, which would made the Chief Executive liable for impeachment on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of the public trust.

“If Aquino is insisting that we accept the new law, not only is he violating the Constitution, he is also betraying the public’s trust, both of which are impeachable offenses,” Palatino said.

The Supreme Court is expected to tackle over 10 petitions against the cybercrime law during an en banc session tomorrow. Yet another petition will reportedly be filed Monday by Bayan Muna led by Rep. Neri Colmenares.

“We warn you P-Noy (Aquino), masquerading as a ‘clean’ President doesn’t make you unimpeachable. If you continue to betray the public’s trust, the masses are ready to call not only for your impeachment but for your ouster,” Palatino said.

Palatino did not say if he would initiate the impeachment complaint against the President.

Both the House and the Senate, which would act as the impeachment prosecutor and court, respectively, are dominated by Aquino allies.

The President on Friday said he did not agree that the provision on online libel should be removed and that he had to enforce the law—otherwise he could be “impeached for dereliction of duty.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, predicted the Supreme Court would declare it unconstitutional, citing the “overbroad and too vague” language used in the law’s provisions.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile urged the public to let the Supreme Court deal with the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

“Let’s leave it in the hands (“ipaubaya na natin”) of the Supreme Court. That’s how the system works. Besides, we (lawmakers) cannot say we are always right. We are not gods. If something goes wrong in the executive or legislature, there is the Constitution and the Supreme Court to make a decision,” Enrile said in Filipino.

But Enrile insisted that the Senate observed proper procedures when it debated on and eventually approved its version of the cybercrime bill.

However, he lamented that he was not able to fully monitor the debates that happened in December.

Enrile admitted he was not an expert on the Internet or information technology. Also, he said he was too busy preparing for his role as presiding officer of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona when the debates took place.

Earlier reports said that during the December interpellations, the debates centered on the definition and penalties for sex-related offenses like cybersex. The online libel provision was not discussed extensively at the time.

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 10:54 AM
15 nurses fired for 'liking' criticism vs hospital

By Aie Balagtas See

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 09, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Fifteen nurses recently terminated from the Taguig-Pateros City District Hospital for “liking” a Facebook post criticizing hospital management are now accusing the city government of refusing to release their certificates of employment.

One of the nurses said their group has repeatedly asked the city government and even sought intervention of various government agencies like the Civil Service Commission and the labor department, but their request has yet to be granted.

“We are no longer contesting our termination, even if they have removed us without any due process at all. All we are asking for is for them to give us our certificate of employment so we could start looking for other jobs,” one of the nurses said in an interview.

The certificate of employment is one of the major requirements Filipino nurses who wish to work abroad must submit. It serves as proof that these nurses have undergone training in the country.

The source-nurse, who requested anonymity, explained that 15 of them have been fired for liking a Facebook status criticizing the purchase of a CT-scan machine last July 13.

Jocelyn Imbao, a consultant at the hospital’s aesthetic and gynecology department, commented on Facebook about the hospital’s priorities in terms of purchasing supplies.

“CT scan???????????? Huh? Sana for free. Kase baka wala maka afford. Besides, ilan ba gagamit na patient? In demand ba? E ang oxygen, meron ba continuous supply? Bili light meron? Simpleng droplight, me bumbilya ba?” read the post. (CT scan? Hopefully for free. Because no one might be able to afford it. Besides, how many patients will use it? Is it in demand? What about oxygen, is there continuous supply? Simple droplight, are there bulbs?)

“Naisip nyo ba ang kuryente na ma consume ng CT scan? Did you know that before you operate the CT scan, you have to start it for a long time? And once on, you can’t turn it off and on and off when not in use?” Imbao, who joined the hospital in 2004, said, worrying about the machine’s electricity consumption.

At least 11 people liked the post, based on the document obtained by The STAR.

On Aug. 13, the nurses received their termination letter. In one sentence, the nurses were informed that they have just lost their jobs effective Aug. 16.

“They did not state any grounds. So we talked to the medical director and we’re told that we were terminated because of Facebook,” the nurse said, who said she recorded the conversation.

Imbao, on the other hand, never received a termination letter but only learned about her dismissal in a bulletin board posting on Aug. 31.

She said she is not contesting the termination because she had lots of connections in other hospitals.

“What I’m fighting for is the rights of the nurses who ‘liked’ my post and lost their jobs in the process,” Imbao said.

Politics caused termination?

In a three-page explanation, the city government claimed that the nurses were disobedient and had sowed intrigues against the administration of Mayor Lani Cayetano.

“Sadly, they have done these things even while they were on duty and supposedly working on official government time,” the letter said.

The document, signed by City Legal officer-in-charge Marianito Miranda, added that the nurses were “consumed” with their “malevolent intent” to discredit Cayetano that they disregarded the administration’s accomplishments.

The nurses, however, said the city government “is only making up stories in order to justify our termination without due process.”

“If the hospital was not really satisfied with my performance why did they put very satisfactory in my evaluation letter? And why didn’t they tell us through the termination letter? Why only now?” one fired nurse said.

Meanwhile, Taguig city administrator Joel Montales, in an official statement, clarified that “Imbao and the nurses were not terminated because they liked (a) Facebook (post).”

“Instead of focusing on their work and cooperating and supporting the TPDH management’s various efforts at improving the hospital’s frontline services, these terminated personnel have manifested blatant disobedience and disregard of authority and protocols, engaged in sowing intrigues and encouraged discontent among the hospital’s staff and personnel.”

10-09-2012, 02:12 PM
SC Stops Implementation of Cybercrime Law

MB Online


October 9, 2012, 12:40pm

MANILA, Philippines --- The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the implementation of RA 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Quoting court insiders, radio and television reports say that justices of the High Court unanimously issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the controversial law.

The supposed implementation of the law was met with much criticism from the public as it allegedly violates people’s constitutional rights to free expression and information, among others.

The law allegedly increases penalties of crimes under the Revised Penal Code to one degree and allows government agencies to collect traffic data.

To date, a total of 15 petitions have been filed with the High Tribunal questioning the legality of the Cybercrime Act.

10-09-2012, 02:14 PM
Anti-Cybercrime Law not all flaws — Angara


MB Research, October 8, 2012, 10:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — “I want to emphasize that not all of the provisions here are complained about,” said Senator Edgardo J. Angara, in defense of the newly ratified Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which he principally authored.

Angara categorized that among the 23 provisions under the act, “only three are being questioned.”

The new law, according to Angara, is a very strong public policy for the good of the majority, since it is developing a new venue of communication which did not exist some 30 years ago.

“The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is the one creating almost 600,000 jobs and earning our country almost $9 billion right now, and in three years’ time, it will create 1.3 million jobs… With [the Anti-]Cybercrime Law, there is protection for the integrity and confidentiality of information,” Angara said, underscoring that in effect, the law expands the rights of Internet users.

In an official statement, Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) President Benedict Hernandez hailed the passage of this new law, saying that “these recent developments significantly enhance our operating environment and contribute to the overall potential of the Philippine IT-BPO industry going forward.”

“The Cybercrime Prevention Act will help sustain and enhance investor confidence and strengthen our position as one of the world’s top locations for high-value IT-BPO services,” said Hernandez.

He added that the industry expects to post a 20-percent growth or more than $13 billion in revenue overall for the year.

Angara also recalled the Filipino-generated “ILOVEYOU” virus that spread in May 2000, noting that no one was prosecuted even if it caused $9 billion in damages.

“The law is not going to impair the right of Internet user… Now that [the Philippines] has 36 or 37 million Internet users, their right in using the Internet is more secured. Even their conversations with their partners, the money that they remit, or their bank accounts are better protected,” said Angara.

However, De La Salle University Law School Dean Jose Manuel Diokno said that despite its positive objectives—to regulate Internet use and get rid of unwanted online activities—and other strengths, the wide-ranging Anti-Cybercrime Law covered several extraneous areas, which only magnified its ambiguity and other weaknesses.

“Any kind of speech, whether it is done on the Internet or in ordinary communication, cannot be subjected to prior restraint from the government, unless a court allows it,” Diokno stated in a phone interview last Friday, citing the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions. “The problem with [the Anti-]Cybercrime Law is that it seems to take away the power of the court and give it to [the Department of Justice]. The DOJ, of course, is not a court; it belongs to the Executive Department, so there’s constitutional issue already.”

In an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin in Pasay City last Friday, Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) Chair Geronimo Sy clarified that as part of the Executive Department, “[the DOJ’s] main task is really to investigate and prosecute bad elements.”

“If you shout libelous remarks at me here in the physical world, if you do that online, it doesn’t mean you’re exempted anymore,” Sy explained.

Blogger Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, though, sided with Diokno’s views, saying that “‘cybercrime’ should be defined clearly and the penalties should be [formulated] based on the crimes involved.” The law, she thought, is “so vague.”

In defense of R.A. 10175, Sy, who was designated as head of the CICC just last week, said that the DOJ is currently drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) to clarify some of the provisions in the law.

“Hopefully, the window of the gap between the effectivity of the law and the issuance of the IRR will not be very long, but if there are certain acts that have already been committed during this [gap], that is clearly [a violation to] the Cybercrime Prevention Act; it does not require clarification from the [IRR], since there are already crimes as it is.”

Diokno agreed: “Authorities can begin enforcing the law on provisions that can be directly enforced even without the [IRR], but they should follow a certain process.”

Setting up the new Cybercrime office is an example of the said provision, according to Sy.

Meanwhile, Diokno noted the collection of traffic data without warrant or court order as another flaw of the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

“The danger is not really in the ‘Liking’ [of a post], but more of the surveillance aspect, because these things are really intended to be private conversations,” said Diokno.

Sy only likened the traffic data to various closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) that have been placed in highways, which will only acquire non-content data, such as the conversation’s time, destination, number code, and frequency.

“In case of traffic data, it’s just an online version [of the CCTV] but nobody will intervene if it’s content or personal things. The state will not proscribe that. We’ll not intervene on that without a warrant,” assured Sy.

Chapter IV, Section 19 of the law, which is about “Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data,” concerns another blogger, Jane Uymatiao, as it is a power also given to the Justice Department.

“The take down clause should be well defined because you can take down [computer data] for other purposes. But if you’ll just take down a blog, it is dangerous,” worried Uymatiao.

In response, Angara said that he is now taking steps to correct the situation by filing “a measure to amend the said provision to include the requirement of a Court Order before the [DOJ] clamps down any website, unless there is clear and present danger that you cannot wait a minute longer.”

The legal field uses the “clear and present danger” as a standard to consider when freedom of speech can be curbed. To illustrate, the said standard takes away from anyone the right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is actually no fire, as the act threatens public safety.

Uymatiao also pointed out that in view of today’s technology, young Internet users are now exposed to the possibility of committing libel even in their arguments. She noted the Juvenile Delinquency Act of 2006, which puts liability even to a 15-year-old.

But Sy set aside these unfounded fears and maintained that the law is still essential to the Philippines, where cybercrimes, abuses and complaints that have not yet been acted upon in the past are now commonplace. He particularly addressed bloggers who are critical of the new law.

“I think we should really have a broader approach and a bigger discussion on what really the law is all about and not just focus on [certain] provisions… These bloggers are prudent people; they don’t want to be libeled so [the law is] also for their protection, especially that our cyberspace here in the Philippines is unregulated.”

“We have to know what that particular fear is and from that, we have to address it if it’s legitimate,” Sy added. “But just to say, [if we do] not point out what exactly is being feared, it may not be helpful to the society at all.”

As for the libel clause, Sy admitted that the higher penalty will be followed because the new Anti-Cybercrime Law already amended the Revised Penal Code. He pointed out the harmful nature of the Internet, that once the libelous statements are posted, “it is available instantly to everyone without barriers [and] cost.”

However, the assistant justice secretary quickly raised the idea that there has to be a complainant first or somebody who is libeled, since his new office won’t be monitoring all the statements, tweets or shout-outs in social networking sites, unlike what others believe.

“Of course a lot of people will say anything and everything, but does it make sense?” Sy said. “There has to be a complainant first. For it to be a libelous statement, somebody has to be libeled.”

For the section that prohibits the aiding of the commission of the cybercrime like online libel, Angara said that conspiracy can only be proven if there is connivance between the author of the libelous statements and those who share it.

“If you don’t know the author but you liked and shared what he said, it cannot be considered as abetting, since the two should have first talked and agreed prior to sharing the information,” the outgoing senator explained.

10-09-2012, 02:15 PM
^ (Continued)

Sy’s new Office for Cybercrime also aimed for international cooperation since the Cybercrime Prevention Act “will be a useless law if we do not coordinate it with other countries, especially when the servers that contain these information or data are not within the country.”

He also stressed that the person who commits cybercrime outside the country can also be liable, since “the one who you libeled against here [could still] file [a case] against you because it is available in the Philippines. But since you’re outside of the country, you cannot be arrested [unless] there’s a warrant against you.”

As of press time, 12 petitions to stop the new law’s implementation have already been filed by different individuals in the Supreme Court. Some legislators have also filed bills in Congress to amend some of the provisions that are being questioned by the concerned parties.

“For me, some have to be repealed and some have to be amended,” suggested Dado, who forms part of a group of bloggers that is currently drafting a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom to protect the rights of the netizens. She also brought out the news that the United Nations has already adopted Internet Freedom as a basic human right.

“My opinion is that we need an Anti-Cybercrime Law. The problem is when they included provisions that now affect netizens,” said Uymatiao, who recommends the decriminalization of libel.

But Sy stated that decriminalization has a separate component.

“It could be decriminalization—you don’t have any more imprisonment, you’ll just impose a fine, or you’ll just impose a civil liability,” said Sy. “My personal opinion is that we will impose only a criminal fine, so it’s not decriminalization, but there’s an imposition of a fine, which is also a penalty.”

Meanwhile, Angara said that there is still time for this law to be amended in Congress.

“This has been threshed out at the committee level, plenary and bicameral conference [so] this should be able to get out. I am sure that we can do it within the life of this Congress and within this session,” declared Angara.

10-09-2012, 02:17 PM
Calming Public Uproar: Anti-Cybercrime Law Simplified


MB Research, October 8, 2012, 6:38pm

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, her Twitter profile page says, “advocates constructive engagement in issues on family and society.” She does this mostly through writing, not in a print medium, but on a web log (blog) for all the world to read—and she has been doing so for more than a decade now.

Jane Uymatiao, a yoga enthusiast, is an active new media person as well, channeling her thoughts via blog writing.

But now that the Philippines has its own Anti-Cybercrime Law in effect, both netizens (Internet citizens) have become even more cautious about what they write.

And they are not really keen about it.

The enactment of the new law meant to go after “online criminals” only took to the next level their common fear: being charged with libel.

“I have always been careful when I write,” said Dado, more popularly known as “Momblogger,” her Twitter username, in the blogosphere, in a phone interview with Manila Bulletin. “For me, I have not changed my style of writing.”

But her being a blogger makes her more vulnerable now to libel, which is among the punishable acts specifically defined in the new law.

“Because I am a blogger, I [tend to be] opinionated and I am not sure if what I write is libelous or not,” she said.

Libel is just one of those provisions that are being questioned in Republic Act (R.A.) 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which took effect Wednesday, 21 days after President Benigno S. Aquino III signed it last Sept. 12 and 15 days after national publication on Sept. 18.

The newly-enacted law aims “to effectively prevent and combat such offenses” committed in the cyberspace and to protect the computer and the information or data stored in it.

Along with its implementation is the creation of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) that will probe and enforce the nation’s cybersecurity plan. Headed by Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, the new office will make sure that no offenses will be committed by anyone who is online.

Aside from cases of online deception, identity theft, cybersex, child pornography and unauthorized spamming, other offenses include illegal access and interception of the computer and data saved in the system. An example of this is when a person uses someone else’s computer without authority, goes online using the computer owner’s account and starts manipulating it. In this new act, one can also be liable due to data interference or unauthorized intentional or reckless alteration, damaging or deleting of computer data or electronic document.

Other punishable acts defined in this law are the unauthorized importation or distribution of computer password or access codes, and cyber-squatting or the use of other’s name in bad faith over the Internet to profit, mislead or destroy other’s reputation. The offender can also be penalized if he attempts or assists in the commission of the punishable acts cited in this law.

The prohibited acts of libel, if committed online, can also hold one person liable in this new law. Since the effect of online libel is instant and covers greater audience, stiffer penalties are to be implemented.

“I know that libel has always been there in the Penal Code, so I am very careful when I write,” said Dado, who is also a citizen media site editor.

Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) defines libel as a “public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”

The Anti-Cybercrime Law might have been long overdue, but majority of Filipinos did not give it a rousing welcome.

“The problem is that if I will engage in a contrary view, will I now be affected by the libel law?” asked Dado.

R.A. 10175’s main author and sponsor Senator Edgardo J. Angara was quick to defend the said provision during the Kapihan sa Senado held at the Senate Lounge in Pasay City on Thursday, addressing mounting qualms and clarifying the new law.

“I accepted [the libel clause] because libel is already punishable under the Penal Code… One must be accountable for one’s conduct, that is the compact among us in the society, where I can exercise my right [while] I also protect the rights of others.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III admitted proposing the provisions on libel, according to Angara.

Still, for Angara, the law reinforces the expansion and development of the usage of the Internet and of other information and communications technologies (ICT) in the Philippines.

“[ICT] is one particular area of our economic and social life that has acquired a huge space in the society,” said Angara, who is also Chairperson of the Committee on Science and Technology. “I don’t want the criticism to overwhelm the overall purpose of this law. I still believe we are much better off with the Cybercrime Prevention law in operation rather than having to navigate what is essentially a wide, wide universe without rules.”

However, for bloggers like Dado and Uymatiao, the Anti-Cybercrime Law affects the way they think now, more than ever, because of the libel clause—further curtailing them of their right to express.

“The moment that we think, ‘Should I put this?’ or ‘I should not say this,’ that exactly is already an infringement of [one’s] expression,” Uymatiao said. “We accept the [fact] that whenever you write, there’s always a responsibility that goes along with it. It doesn’t mean that freedom of expression is open, that you can say what you want even if you are going to curse other people. We know that there are boundaries in terms of ethics, but it should never infringe on your ability to give opinion, to be able to criticize, to be able to point out a wrongdoing.”

De La Salle University Law School Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, in a separate phone interview over the weekend, confirmed Uymatiao’s anxiety.

“Our newly-enacted Cybercrime Law violates the right to freedom of speech and free expression. Whereas before, our marketplace of ideas is limited to conversations, television and radio, today, it is also in the Internet. When you allow that kind of heavy regulation from the state, it will cause an adverse impact on our speech,” said Diokno.

On whether Anti-Cybercrime Law will affect private conversations, especially in social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, Angara said that sites which contain commentaries like what print columnists do are free from liability, as long as the authors don’t commit libelous or slanderous acts to a person.

“The idea is that freedom of speech does not affect libelous or slanderous statements or remarks,” Angara said. “Libel is not protected by the freedom of speech.”

For one to be charged libel in the context of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, Diokno said, the same requisites in a regular (print) libel case need to be established.

“The statement or imputation must be defamatory, one that really damages the reputation of the victim; it should be published; it should be malicious; and it should cause actual damage to an identified victim,” Diokno explained.

Diokno is “disturbed,” though, about the inclusion of libel in the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

“First, we already have an existing law on libel, the one in the [RPC], which covers Internet libel. In other words, we don’t need to create a new law to penalize Internet libel,” he said. “Second, our Supreme Court recently issued a circular to courts that as much as possible, imprisonment for libel should not be imposed because the worldwide trend is to decriminalize libel.”

At present, the Philippines is among one of the few countries that tags libel as a crime.

“In many countries today, penalty for libel is only damages, no more imprisonment,” Diokno said. “With our new Anti-Cybercrime Law, the penalty is increased, instead of following the worldwide trend.”

Angara’s view on the matter agreed with Diokno’s.

“The solution is to amend the RPC and decriminalize libel. But that doesn’t mean there’s no responsibility in reporting on the part of journalists. They would still be liable not in the form of jail, but through civil damages.”

Angara also appealed to the public not to panic because “there is no threat to anyone’s freedom right now.”

10-09-2012, 02:22 PM
Can we slap this in the face of that eskalera boy?

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:37 AM
^^^ Ikaw sa kaliwa, ako sa kanan, Tokayo.

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:39 AM
TRO on cyberlaw big victory for freedom of expression, says Guingona

By Norman Bordadora, Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:20 am | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“The first victory of the people and of freedom of expression.”

That was how Sen. Teofisto Guingona III described the Supreme Court’s issuance Tuesday of a temporary restraining order (TRO) suspending implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act for 120 days while the high tribunal decides whether the law violates civil liberties.

The court in a unanimous resolution directed respondents led by President Benigno Aquino and top administration officials to comment within 10 days on 15 petitions filed by Guingona and journalists’ groups, bloggers and netizens seeking to scrap a harsh penalty for online libel of up to 12 years in prison.

In its en banc meeting, the high tribunal set oral arguments on Jan. 15 on the case, according to the minute resolution. It said that the order was effective immediately. It said that for 120 days, the administration should refrain from enforcing the law.

The announcement of the TRO was met with jubilation by some 500 protesters massed in front of the court. Wearing black and bearing placards, the protesters called for the impeachment of Mr. Aquino for signing the cybercrime law, which took effect on Oct. 3, and chanted “no to cyber martial law.”

“The administration will always respect the legal processes that are issued by the court,” Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters.

She called the court action a “provisional remedy” amid intense opposition to the law. She said this should not be construed as “judgment on the merits.”

Senate’s lone dissenter

“A TRO against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the first victory of the people and of freedom of expression,” said Guingona, the lone dissenter in the Senate to the measure.

“For a court to issue a TRO unanimously is a strong message of its belief that the dangers and fears of the people are real and must be addressed,” he said.

The respondents included Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome.

The issuance of the TRO came as the Department of Justice (DOJ) was preparing to draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law slammed by many sectors for including libel as a cybercrime, among others.

Saying the DOJ operated “under the framework of the rule of law,” De Lima said she would abide by the high court order which, she noted, arose from “an exercise of the power of judicial review.’’

“We respect and we will abide by it,” De Lima, who was in Zamboanga City, said in a text message.

De Lima said that “in due time,” the DOJ would present formally before the high court the arguments outlined in the “historic” forum on the cyberlaw, which was conducted on Tuesday at the Land Bank of the Philippines building in Manila.

“Our advocacy for a safe cyberspace and interdiction of organized crime will continue,’’ De Lima said.

Word on the high court’s issuance of a TRO came as the DOJ, along with the Department of Science and Technology, ended its one-day forum aimed at clarifying misconceptions on the controversial law.

The forum was called so that stakeholders could provide inputs on the “collaborative’’ IRR to be drafted with the DOJ and other concerned government agencies.

Assistant Justice Secretary Geronimo Sy has said some of the provisions that petitioners said were unconstitutional were “the least of our worries.’’

He said that it was not true that the jail time for those found guilty of online libel would be up to 12 years, adding that the maximum jail term was eight years.

Sy also said that contrary to claims by some groups, the provision that would restrict or block websites was “not a takedown” website policy.

He said that applying this section was not easy considering there were certain conditions needed such as “clear and present danger” to necessitate the restriction or blocking of websites.

He also explained the tedious process involved in seeking this restriction.

Congress will wait

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that with the TRO, bills introduced to amend the cybercrime law would have to wait until the court decided on its constitutionality.

“[The TRO] does not stop us from amending the law if there is a necessity but in my case, I suggest that we wait for the Supreme Court to make a decision so that we will know what are the defects that they want us to correct. We are not infallible people,” Enrile told reporters.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, one of the authors of the law, shared Enrile’s position. “Let’s take a pause out of respect for the Supreme Court, after all the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of any legal question.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who earlier said she expected the Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional the cyberlaw, welcomed the court move. “This would be a landmark decision. It will concern the right to free speech in the digital age,” Santiago said.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said that Congress should take the 120-day respite as its “cue” to expedite the approval of repealing or proposing ammendatory bills to the cybercrime law.

May not be needed

“There is material time to amend the law. What is needed is the support of the Congress leadership,” Palatino said.

“It’s possible if certified by the President as urgent, or if the House leadership considers it a priority measure,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III said that the proposed changes in Congress might not be necessary. “There is a possibility that those particular sections that are being questioned may be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Hence, amendments may not be necessary,” Tañada said. With reports from TJ Burgonio and Gil C. Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:43 AM
Sex video: First test case for cyber law

By Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:36 am | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

A 17-year-old girl may not get the help for now from authorities in her attempt to stop a 2-year-old sex video involving her that has gone viral on the Internet.

Assistant Justice Secretary Geronimo Sy on Tuesday said the girl, who was not identified, was the first complainant under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Sy mentioned the case during a forum on the controversial law held at the Landbank building in Manila.

And while he conceded the government for now could not do as much for her given that the law has yet to issue its implementing rules and regulations, efforts to help her case effectively was put on hold when the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the law’s implementation.

Sy said that the “least” the Department of Justice (DOJ) could do now was to provide “restorative justice” to the girl, such as giving her counseling and a change of residence.

Speaking to reporters, Sy said the girl sent an e-mail on her plea to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Oct.2. He said the department verified the e-mail and found it to be a “valid complaint.” He said the girl was 15 years old in the sex video.

“The least we can do for her is not to watch the video,” Sy also said.

Under the new law, the government can request the websites that hosted the sex video “to have due respect with the rights of the child.”

“She is a child after all,” he said.

Sy said that it was the Internet service providers and the telecommunication sector that could stop the showing of the video.

“The nature of cybercrime is, there is permanence in how data is being managed online, so it has limited what we can do,” he said.

Case vs ‘hacktivists’

But Sy also disclosed that there was a case filed against the offender in this case. He conceded that the complaint was a “test case” for the government under the new cyberlaw.

The National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday also said the Supreme Court order would hamper efforts against attackers of at least 15 government websites.

Special investigator Joey Narciso of the NBI Computer Crimes Unit said that the suspended law had given the agency more powers to go against hackers.

“Because of the TRO, the privileges were lost and we have to go back to the traditional way of investigating cases,” Narciso said.

“We admit we are helpless without the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” he said. “The NBI has the talent but we are limited by provisions of the law and technology.”

10-11-2012, 09:43 AM
Palace open to changes in anti-cybercrime law

By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 11, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is an opportunity for Congress to change the law that has drawn much criticism, Malacañang said yesterday.

“I think those 120 days (is an) opportunity for the legislature to discuss and finalize whatever amendments that they have already voiced out in public,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“The Senate has already – or some senators have already – mentioned that they intend to push for some amendments. Likewise in the House. So this would be perhaps a good time and also an opportunity for the legislature itself to amend the law,” he said.

Lacierda described the 120-day period specified in the TRO as a “signal” from the SC for Congress to amend the controversial law.

At the Senate, two lawmakers have already initiated moves to have the law amended.

Senators Alan Cayetano and Loren Legarda filed proposals seeking to repeal some of the controversial provisions of Republic Act 10175.

Cayetano also filed a bill to decriminalize libel and defamation under the Revised Penal Code.

“There is a need to repeal the criminal defamation laws in the country since the present laws create a chilling effect on the community. We need to balance the need to promote the right of freedom of expression and the government’s duty to hold accountable those who abuse it,” he said.

Cayetano considers the move to amend the anti-cybercrime law as a catalyst for the decriminalization of libel in the country.

He added legislators should pass laws that further promote the positive use of technology, not curtail people’s freedom of expression and creativity.

Legarda cited the need to strike a balance between the government’s role to protect its citizenry and uphold freedom of expression.

“The vulnerability of cyberspace to pollutants such as pornography, cybersex, fraudulent practices and promotion of human trafficking (was) precisely the reason for the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,” Legarda said.

“However, adopting such policy to prevent pollutants from spoiling the minds of our people must not be done at the expense of our valued right to free speech,” she said.

A ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, said the 120 days under the TRO would give the SC the opportunity to discern the law.

The TRO would “give time for the SC to weigh the pros and cons regarding the law and to calm down emotions and to let us be guided by reasons,” CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Bioethics chairman Bulacan Bishop Jose Oliveros said.

Oliveros though cited the need for the law to regulate the use of cyberspace.

He said several countries have already formulated their own cyber law. But he said the cyber law should ensure that a person’s right of expression must be safeguarded.

“The public should also continue to uphold the truth and the right to privacy of an individual,” Oliveros said.

In the meantime, the petitioners against RA 10175 in the SC issued a statement appealing to Congress to expedite the passage of bills that would repeal several contentious provisions in RA 10175.

They also criticized the Senate’s declaration that amendatory bills on RA 10175 will have to take a backseat.

“Why should we wait for the Supreme Court’s final decision before we act? Legislators committed a mistake in passing RA 10175, and the TRO issued by the Supreme Court is a cue for Congress to amend the law,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said.

“Before the high court released the TRO, senators and congressmen alike were very active in calling for amendments and repeals. But why is the Senate now dilly-dallying on amendatory bills? It just goes to show that senators are not really sincere in repealing the law,” said Terry Ridon, Kabataan party-list national president and general counsel.

“The TRO just delays the implementation of the law. The TRO is a cue for the Congress leadership to expedite the processing of repeal bills now filed in both chambers of Congress,” Palatino added.

“The TRO released by the high tribunal is effective for 120 days, enough time for Congress to repeal RA 10175,” he said.

There are other ways

In a press briefing yesterday, Lacierda said he did not discuss the TRO with President Aquino and that the executive department would respect the SC order.

The fact that the SC has issued a TRO showed that the country is operating normally and “that there is no such thing as e-martial law, even prior to the issuance of the TRO,”he said.

“Because this is the first time we have or a very rare time when the Supreme Court has issued a TRO which is definite in date, in scope. So they issued that TRO for 120 days. Normally, when the Supreme Court issues a TRO, it is indefinite. So perhaps this is a signal to the legislature to finalize whatever amendments,” he said.

Other laws, meanwhile, could be used to prosecute Internet-related crimes not covered by the Cybercrime Prevention Act, he said.

“The TRO is for the whole cybercrime law so you cannot cut and paste or decide which provisions of the TRO will apply. It’s a TRO on the entire law itself, so we cannot implement TRO as a law itself. But with respect to cybercrimes, for instance, pornography, maybe the other laws can... I would leave it to the DOJ (Department of Justice) if they can apply other laws in the meantime,” Lacierda said.

“For instance, hacking is a crime punishable under the E-Commerce Law. Some laws may be able to address those cybercrimes for now but, as to what extent, we will leave it with the DOJ. But insofar as the controversial provisions are concerned, the TRO has been issued and therefore it will be respected,” he said.

Asked if the TRO was a setback to the government’s fight against Internet-related crimes, Lacierda said there would be effects obviously, but there were different applicable laws.

At this point, Lacierda said the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) would cooperate with Congress to provide inputs on the amendments to the cybercrime law.

“From the very start, even the President had said... the President is open to lower the penalties for cyber libel, isn’t it? So we are open. This is a legislative act and no law is cast in stone so, it’s always subject to amendments,” he said.

Lacierda said Congress could work on the amendments while the case was ongoing in the SC.

“There are two tracks... and both are independent of each other. There’s a case in the Supreme Court which can proceed on its own. The Supreme Court chose not to proceed for 120 days, allow the discussions to happen after the 120 days. The legislature, on the other hand, has the power to make laws and to amend the laws... Perhaps, the legislature can move forward and do the amendments since there have been already some voices that already made known the intentions to amend the cyber crime law. We welcome both tracks,” he said.

Asked if there would be a need to augment the legal team of Malacañang to address cases, Lacierda said they have a good legal team and there was only a difference on emphasis of the various provisions of the contentious law.

“We recognize the importance of addressing those cybercrimes and that’s why that was emphasized,” Lacierda said.

While the government was “stymied” in pursuing cyber criminals, Lacierda said the TRO against the law was only “a temporary setback.”

He said amendments would be done on the law so that “what made it controversial will be cured.”

He said finer crafting of the law could be done.

“But as soon as amendments are done or as soon as the Supreme Court rules in whatever manner, at least we will have a clearer view of how we address cyber crimes,”he said. – With Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan, Sandy Araneta

10-11-2012, 09:44 AM
NBI asked to probe teen's sex video case

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 11, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The quest for justice of a 17-year-old girl who filed the first complaint under Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act will not be hampered by the restraining order issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the controversial law.

The probe – seen as a test case for the anti-cybercrime law – will continue despite the 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the SC on the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the implementation of RA 10175, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

De Lima has tapped the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the complaint of the girl.

The victim filed the complaint on the day RA 10175 took effect last Oct. 3. She sent the complaint through an e-mail to De Lima, urging the government to take down a video circulating on the Internet for two years now showing her having sex with a guy she used to date.

While they are barred from implementing RA 10175, De Lima said the NBI may still request the websites involved to remove the sex video and run after those who uploaded it under another applicable law.

“The NBI may act on this case perhaps under anti-photo and video voyeurism act or RA 9995. The victim is a minor, so can you imagine the anguish, anxiety and humiliation she went through because of that? We need to preserve human dignity,” De Lima said.

RA 9995 imposes a penalty of three to seven years of imprisonment and fine of P100,000 to P500,000 on those who will be found guilty of voyeurism.

De Lima said the DOJ and NBI could not enforce RA 10175 on this case for the meantime because of the 120-day TRO issued by the high court last Tuesday.

De Lima abided by the TRO and suspended the crafting of the new law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) as well as the initial operations of the DOJ’s new cybercrime office headed by Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy.

De Lima, however, said they would continue their mass information campaign to raise public awareness on the new law and continue to address concerns.

“Normally TRO would encompass the implementation of the entire law. The IRR is put on hold but the advocacy is not covered so it will proceed. We will still undertake awareness raising campaign to educate the people on the salient features of the law and to explain to them that there is nothing to worry in the implementation of the law,” she said.

De Lima also clarified the DOJ would continue to accept complaints falling under the anti-cybercrime law but only for evaluation purposes in the meantime.

“If the complainant insists that we act, we will ask them to excuse us and explain to them that the cybercrime law is not in effect. But we will evaluate the complaints and see if other laws may be applied,” she said.

De Lima said they would start preparing their answer to the consolidated petitions against RA 10175.

The SC had ordered the respondents, including De Lima and other government agencies, to answer the petitions within 10 days from receipt of notice.

The high court, in a unanimous vote of 14 justices during their full-court session the other day, issued the TRO stopping the implementation of RA 10175 and set oral argument on the case on Jan. 15 next year.


The TRO did not declare, however, if the questioned provisions of RA 10175 are unconstitutional.

The court has to decide this within 120 days of the TRO after weighing the arguments of both sides.

RA 10175 aims to combat Internet crimes such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography.

Journalists and rights groups oppose the law because it also makes online libel a crime, with double the normal penalty, and because it blocks access to websites deemed to violate the law.

They fear such provisions will be used by politicians to silence critics, and say the law also violates freedom of expression and due process.

Most of the furor came from the online community, particularly bloggers and users of popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, who felt the questionable provisions of the law were inserted without any consultation with the public.

The TRO was issued just as several lawmakers who had signed the law already took initiatives to amend its questioned provisions. – With Marvin Sy

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:31 AM

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:33 am | Thursday, October 25th, 2012

It was inevitable. That the most controversial new legal concept of the day, electronic libel, would collide with arguably the most consequential economic debate of our time, the future of mining in the Philippines, makes the so-called “Cyber-Perling” case even more fraught with meaning. But it was really only a matter of time before the nature of the nightmare spawned by the Cybercrime Prevention Act became visible to the ordinary eye.

We wish to be clear: All the parties behind the case filed against antimining activist Esperlita “Perling” Garcia of Gonzaga, Cagayan, have described the suit as mere libel—including Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr., who filed the complaint, and the National Bureau of Investigation, which arrested Garcia a week ago today. For some reason, even President Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda got into the act, clarifying the status of the case; perhaps because he was goaded by Anakbayan critics into explaining the administration’s policy on electronic libel, however, his statement could be read by some as implied support for an old-fashioned libel suit against Garcia.

Garcia, the president of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation, a leading source of opposition to small-scale magnetite sand mining in the province, herself described the case as part of a campaign of harassment directed at her.

But here’s the rub: Because the subject of the libel suit is a Facebook post she wrote in April last year, Garcia’s plight has attracted the attention not only of fellow environmental activists but also, and much more loudly, of critics of the new cybercrime law. The law, signed last month by President Aquino, extended the scope of the decades-old provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code to online activity and raised the penalties by one degree; in a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court ruled to suspend the law for 120 days—a move widely seen as giving Congress the leeway it needed to remedy the law’s obvious deficiencies without the embarrassment of an adverse ruling.

Hence the birth of Cyber-Perling, both the name of the Facebook page put up by Garcia’s supporters and also the news shorthand for Garcia herself. Hence the cries of alarm in the opinion pages, about “warning shots” and “swords of Damocles.” Hence the very real fear in online forums that Garcia is being made an example, a test case to probe the limits of popular outrage.

Memories of the misfortune that afflicted 16 contractual nurses working for the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital are still fresh; after “liking” a volunteer-doctor’s Facebook post that criticized the hospital last August, they were summarily fired. Garcia’s case is the awful next step; she faces a criminal penalty, the possibility of imprisonment. (In fact, she already spent one day in jail, because she was able to post bail only the day after her arrest.)

The convoluted reasoning of a senator who voted for the cybercrime law shows us the extent to which mischief can turn black-letter law into a living nightmare. Sen. Panfilo Lacson predicted that the Garcia case would end up in the Supreme Court, because he said the prosecutors could not have used the cybercrime law retroactively. “When the Revised Penal Code was passed, unless there was an amendatory law that had amended certain provisions of the RPC . . . If none, the RPC has been there for some time and there was no Internet at that time.”

If a two-term senator does not know for a fact that the Code’s libel provisions were amended once to include broadcast but have not been amended again to include the Internet, what about us mere mortals? The ordinary citizen is at the mercy of any official who can speak legalese.

Certainly the Garcia case could be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, but the chances are also high that it may not make it all the way to the tribunal. The Regional Trial Court hearing it may throw it out because the complainant is a public official who has a heavy burden to prove malice, or because the judge does not see the Code’s libel provisions as extending to the Internet.

But the damage has been, is being, done. Garcia faces a year or two of legal uncertainty, mounting legal costs, distractions from her advocacy. Pentecostes said all he wanted to do was teach her a lesson, in responsibility, but in fact it is an object lesson in plain harassment. The powers that be can reach us anywhere, even on Facebook.

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:36 AM
^^^ And again I have to ask: was the Facebook post in fact actually libelous? If not then this truly is nothing more than harassment. Because if it was, then regardless of medium, Cyber Perling should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, should she not?

10-25-2012, 05:52 PM
Drowning escalera boy in the septic tank... in my mind

12-21-2012, 09:48 AM
Real need for cyberlaw unaddressed by RA 10175

By Angel Redoble

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:19 pm | Thursday, December 20th, 2012

As an IT/cybersecurity practitioner for 16 years, I had foreseen the possible catastrophic impact should malicious hackers launch an attack against our critical cyberinfrastructure. So if you ask me whether we need a cybercrime law or not, my answer is “yes,” definitely. In fact we needed it 10 years ago. However, I agree with the view that libel by ICT shouldn’t be considered a crime.

I believe that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175) was passed with some provisions that deviate from its original objective—that is, to prosecute cybercriminals. A definitive answer as to what constitutes a cybercrime is very crucial in the implementation of the law. From a “cyberperspective,” cybercrimes include (but are not limited to) the following: identity theft, compromised confidentiality and integrity of information, distribution of worms and Trojans, disruption of online services (DOS/DDOS), systems intrusions, unauthorized modification of data and other online information, information theft, and installation and distribution of unlicensed software.

As we all know, the libel provision in RA 10175 prompted some of our cybercitizens or netizens to attack government-owned websites, an act which is in itself a crime under the new law. Unfortunately, their overreaction to the law’s libel provision has taken away the spotlight from the real reason we need a cybercrime law. The “hackattacks” should have shown to all and sundry how vulnerable our systems are and how easy it is to disrupt online services.

Beyond libel, what we should worry about and focus on more is the risk of cyberwar, which is a bigger threat. In a cyberwar, the main actors would no longer be mere “hacktivists” but cyberterrorists and state-sponsored hackers whose objective would be not just to deface websites and steal Facebook accounts, but to disrupt and compromise economic security.

By definition, one of the pillars of national security is economic security. In cyberwar, the enemy can successfully take down the economy of a nation or state by merely pressing the “Enter” key. A cyberterrorist can cause havoc without necessarily blowing anything or himself up. A cyberspy can steal and gather vital information about a target country without being physically present there. In this modern and technology-driven world, the war has shifted from guns and bombs to bits and bytes. A cyberwar can be won without firing a single bullet.

Others claim that it is easy and possible to trace the real source of an attack and identify the real perpetrator, I disagree. Having been exposed to the defensive and offensive areas of cybersecurity, I can categorically say it is very difficult and almost impossible to trace the real source of an attack, much more identify the real identity of the perpetrators. Using various hacking tools, hackers may launch cyberattacks while sitting in an Internet café or coffee shop in Manila, Philippines, yet make it appear like the attack is coming from other cities or countries. I believe this is exactly the reason why the hackers responsible for the cyberattacks were so defiantly aggressive—they are certain that they cannot be traced or they know government is not equipped enough to trace and identify them. Make no mistake, cyberspace is a borderless world and the Internet provides a perfect cover and refuge to everyone, and these hackers have almost perfected the skills of anonymity.

Angel Redoble, a certified ethical hacker and computer hacking forensic investigator with a master’s degree in Information Security Management from UPSAM-ASIMILEC in Madrid, Spain, is president and CEO of ARMCI Solutions and Consultancy.

Sam Miguel
12-26-2012, 08:56 AM
Instagram sued over contract changes

Agence France-Presse

7:30 am | Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – A lawsuit filed here seeks to stop Instagram from changing its terms of service, saying the Facebook-owned smartphone photo-sharing service is breaching its contract with users.

The lawsuit filed Friday by Southern California-based law firm of Finkelstein and Krinsk claimed class action status and called on the federal court to bar Instagram from changing its rules.

“Instagram is taking its customers property rights while insulating itself from all liability,” the law firm said in the suit, which also demanded that the service pay its legal fees.

“In short, Instagram declares that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law and if you don’t like it, you can’t stop us,’” the complaint said.

Changes to the Instagram privacy policy and terms of service had included wording that allowed for people’s pictures to be used by advertisers at Instagram or Facebook worldwide, royalty-free.

Instagram last week tried to calm a user rebellion by apparently backing off the changes, due to come into effect from January.

“I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos, you do,” Instagram co-founder and chief Kevin Systrom said in a blog post.

But the class action lawsuit, filed in a district court in San Francisco, alleges that customers canceling with Instagram will still forfeit their rights to any photos that they had previously shared on the service.

“The purported concessions by Instagram in its press release and final version of the new terms were nothing more than a public relations campaign to address public discontent,” the complaint said.

Tens of thousands of Instagram users in the state of California are eligible to join the class action lawsuit.

There was no immediate public statement from either Instagram or Facebook.

Sam Miguel
12-26-2012, 09:17 AM
Comelec to use pirated software in 2013 polls


By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) |

Updated December 26, 2012 - 12:00am

The Philippines is striving to live down its notoriety in film, music and info-tech copyright theft. Yet its very government is about to embark on one of the biggest software piracies in the world.

This is the warning being spread by IT professionals about the Comelec’s insistence on contracting Smartmatic for the automated balloting in May 2013.

But, as if inured to a humiliating international blacklisting, officials of the election body are ignoring the alarms. And since the Comelec is constitutionally independent, the executive and legislative branches are just watching silently on the side.

Smartmatic, a Venezuelan company with many other assumed nationalities, is to run the precinct count optical scanners for the automated voting. But it does not own the PCOS operating software. The real software developer, Dominion Voting Systems of Canada, has dis-authorized Smartmatic from any further use. The two firms have sued each other in America for damages.

The Comelec is acquiring 82,000 PCOS units from Smartmatic for P9 billion under a lease-purchase deal. The machines will be used by 55 million voters in 250,000 polling precincts, mostly in the 7,107 islands but a good number also in Filipino embassies, consulates, and work camps overseas.

The Comelec first leased the machines from Smartmatic for P7.2 billion, for the 2010 presidential-congressional-local elections. Last March it decided to buy the machines, for an additional P1.8 billion, for the midterm polls in 2013.

In the 2010 election, Smartmatic depended on Dominion to develop, revise and adapt the PCOS software to the Philippine setting. The arrangement was in violation of the Automated Election Law of 2008, which mandates that the system provider must also own the operating software. The Comelec ignored the criticisms at the time, and continues to do so to this day.

The AES (Automated Election System) Watch, composed of IT experts, academics and NGOs, is urging Congress to look for a new technology provider. This could save the country from international sanctions, as well as ensure an accurate, acceptable ballot count. The AES Watch also is questioning the reliability of Smartmatic’s machines, because of imprecise vote tallying in a recent product demo in Congress.

IT professional Nelson J. Celis, AES Watch spokesman, said that with the Comelec purchase of Smartmatic’s 82,000 machines, the poll body will be promoting pirated technology in May 2013.

UP professor Bobby Tuazon, head of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, asked the Comelec to listen to the IT experts’ cautionary words. “Why is the Comelec, dominated by lawyers who are not knowledgeable in the complexities of the PCOS technology, not taking heed?” he remarked.

The Comelec has been keeping mum about Dominion’s rescission of Smartmatic’s license to use its software.

* * *

Corruption and incompetence is an open secret at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. Additional details continue to pour in from industry sources:

• A select group of CAAP air traffic controllers presently administer the English proficiency test for pilots and navigators. English is the language of aviation. The International Civil Aviation Organization has set a language scale of 1 to 6, with 1-3 as below par, 4 as operational, 5 as good, and 6 as native-speaker fluency. The test graders would score 4 on a good day. Too, they usually rate American, British, Australian, Hong Kong or Singapore pilots who seek domestic licenses as 6 or 5. Also Filipino amateur fliers who pay under the table. All this violates the ICAO and general English testing protocols that testers may not give grades higher than their own scores.

• A few years back, an American company that was developing lightweight aircraft material thought of relocating to the Philippines. The CAAP’s actions made it change its mind. First, the agency delayed the grant of its registration. At the same time, it set an arbitrary fee on the company of P10,000 for every aircraft takeoff and landing.

• Last September the Swiss personal pilot of a Filipino billionaire was caught doctoring the flight logbook. The CAAP denied renewal of his domestic pilot license. Still he flew from Basel to Manila via Italy without a valid license, a second violation. And yet the CAAP rushed issuance of a validation so that he could fly his boss from Manila to Europe for the Christmas holidays.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:01 AM
Hacktivists’ strike on eve of SC hearing

By Riza T. Olchondra, Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:05 am | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Several government websites, including that of the National Food Authority (NFA), were defaced early Monday by the “hacktivist” group Anonymous Philippines, drawing attention to the cybercrime law.

The hacking took place a day before the Supreme Court holds oral arguments on the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012, or Republic Act No. 10175, which Anonymous Philippines said threatened freedom of expression.

The law became controversial because it criminalizes online libel, among other things, angering journalists who have been campaigning for the decriminalization of libel.

Shortly after President Aquino signed RA 10175 into law last Sept. 12, the high tribunal suspended its implementation for four months until February after consolidating 15 petitions against it.

Early Monday, Twitter users reported the hacking of the NFA website (nfa.gov.ph). The NFA, whose previous head is being linked to rice smuggling in the country, is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a phone interview early on Monday that while it was not known why the NFA website was targeted, those in charge of the website were tasked with restoring the system.

At 9:24 a.m., Alcala said via text message that the website would be restored “soon.” In about 30 minutes, the website was up and running again.

Also hacked were the websites of the National Maritime Polytechnic (nmp.gov.ph) and the municipality of Jose Panganiban (mambulao.gov.ph), formerly known as Mambulao, in Camarines Norte province.


In an operation called “#OccupyPhilippines,” Anonymous Philippines left hacked pages with messages beginning with, “Protect our Right to Freedom of Expression!”

The message was still on the home page of Jose Panganiban town but it had been taken out of the NMP website as of press time.

The Cebu Port Authority (cpa.gov.ph) website did not have the message on it but the site was disabled throughout Monday.

The Anonymous Philippines’ message read in part: “1987 Philippine Constitution. Article III, Section 4 states that ‘NO LAW SHALL BE PASSED ABRIDGING the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.’”

The group also said: “What happened to the law? Are all laws meant to be broken? Are they made to fool people, deprive them of their rights in exchange for what we believe as ‘Heavens for Politicians’? Some say we are against the law because it would hinder our ‘criminal activities,’ but WE do not oppose the said law in any way, if it is for the greater good.”

Not the first time

It was not the first time the group defaced government websites to draw attention to the controversial law. A number of petitioners said this would make it easier for authorities to spy on and/or harass citizens, especially critics, using electronic media.

Many critics of the cybercrime law have also alleged that legislation may have stemmed from criticisms against lawmakers in social media, particularly at the height of the plagiarism charges against Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto.

In September last year, the websites of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine Anti-Piracy Team and the Agusan del Sur website were hacked by Anonymous Philippines.

Those of the Official Gazette, Senate and National Bureau of Investigation were either defaced or suffered denial-of-service attacks.

Black screens

At the height of the outcry, many Facebook and Twitter users in the Philippines and the portals of some media organizations replaced their profile pictures with black screens in protest of the new law.

In October last year, the Supreme Court ordered that the implementation of the law be suspended until Feb. 6 and set a Jan. 15 hearing of petitioners’ arguments. Fifteen petitions asked the high court to declare the law wholly or partially unconstitutional.

While the new law against cybercrime is suspended, authorities may deal with related cases using existing laws such as RA 8792 or the E-Commerce Act of 2000, RA 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Voyeurism Act of 2009, RA 9725 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, RA 8484 or the Access Device Regulation Act of 1998 and RA 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law.

A primer on cybercrimes committed in the country, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier released, said nearly nine out of 10 Filipino Internet users have been victimized by “cybercrime” or malicious activity on the Internet.

The primer was prepared by the DOJ as part of its advocacy program to prevent abuses in cyberspace as the legality of the new law against cybercrime is being deliberated in the Supreme Court.

The law, according to petitioners, violates citizens’ constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, right to privacy, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, equal protection and protection against double jeopardy.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will give those questioning the suspended Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 a chance to make their case heard.

Five lawyers are set to tackle certain provisions in the first oral arguments to be presided over by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno since her appointment as head of the judiciary last August.

It will be the turn of the solicitor general to argue for the law’s continued implementation on Jan. 22.

10 minutes each

Under the guidelines and advisory on how the oral arguments will be done, five petitioners/counsels are assigned to speak on specific issues. Each will have 10 minutes to make their presentations. The high court issued the guidelines last week.

Tuesday’s speakers are University of the Philippines law professors Harry Roque and Jesus Disini Jr., Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Philippine Bar Association legal counsel Rodel Cruz and National Union of People’s Lawyers representative Julius Matibag.

Roque said he would ask the high court if it could allow Sen. Teofisto Guingona III to make an opening statement before the oral arguments.

Among the provisions to be tackled include that which criminalizes online libel and the so-called take-down policy in the law that will allow the DOJ to block or restrict a website found to be violating the cybercrime law.

All speakers will be asked whether the provisions they will be discussing violate constitutional rights such as those on due process of law and freedom of expression.

“The rest of the issues raised by the various parties that are not covered by the oral arguments shall be heard on written memorandum by the petitioners concerned,” the advisory said.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:50 AM
^^^ Everytime miscreants like this show us just how "powerful" they are by hacking into government Websites, it does nothing to bring more people to the side of the Anti-Cybercrime Law. On the contrary, all it does is show people precisely why the State should exercise its inherent and plenary police power to address Internet-related crimes and misdemeanors.

You don't like the law, what do you do? You hack and deface government property. You fight tyranny by resorting to tyranny. Who the hell elected you people to speak for the rest of us? All you've demonstrated is how dangerous you IT-savvy types are in the age of the Internet, and how much we all need protection that the law and only the law can provide.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:53 AM
SC to hear oral arguments on cyber law

(philstar.com) | Updated January 15, 2013 - 10:33am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) will hear this afternoon the petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The SC will hear arguments on Republic Act 10175 from five lawyers selected from 15 petitioners during the hearing, which was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

The five lawyers are international law expert Harry Roque, Jr., Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, Philippine Bar Association legal counsel Rodel Cruz, University of the Philippines Prof. Jesus Disini and Julius Matibag of the National Union of People's Lawyers.

The next hearing was scheduled on Jan. 22, where the government represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, will defend the new cybercrime law.

Groups opposed to the new cybercrime law were expected to troop to the SC's office in Manila during the oral arguments.

On Monday, students and bloggers went to the SC and started an overnight vigil

The SC had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the new law. The preventive order will lapse on February 5.

The petitioners were expected to ask the high court to extend the TRO to 120 more days.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:30 AM
‘Hacktivists’ strike again, attack Customs, ‘Eat Bulaga’ websites

By Julie M. Aurelio, Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:23 am | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

“Hacktivists” struck again on Tuesday, the day of hearing oral arguments in the Supreme Court for Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a law that protesters say threatens freedom of speech.

Websites of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and noon-time television show “Eat Bulaga,” were defaced Tuesday by hacker group Private X, a member of the larger hacker organization Anonymous Philippines.

Also hacked was the website of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

On Monday, Anonymous Philippines hit several government websites to draw attention to the oral arguments in the high tribunal.

The sites that were hit on Monday were those of the National Food Authority, National Maritime Polytechnic, Cebu Port Authority and the Municipality of Jose Panganiban (formerly Mambulao) in Camarines Norte province.

Same message

Anonymous Philippines left the same message on the BOC home page as the one on the sites defaced on Monday.

The message read: “1987 Philippine Constitution. Article III, Section 4 states that ‘NO LAW SHALL BE PASSED ABRIDGING the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.’”

The group added: “What happened to the law? Are all laws meant to be broken? Are they made to fool people, deprive them of their rights in exchange for what we believe as ‘Heavens for Politicians’? Some say we are against the law because it would hinder our ‘criminal activities,’ but WE do not oppose the said law in any way, if it is for the greater good.”

Online libel criminalized

The cybercrime law became controversial because it criminalizes online libel, among other things, angering journalists who have been campaigning for the decriminalization of libel.

Shortly after President Aquino signed RA 10175 into law last Sept. 12, the high tribunal suspended its implementation for four months until February after consolidating 15 petitions against it.

Black webpage

On the website of the QCPD, hacktivists put a black-themed webpage condemning the cybercrime law.

The black webpage featured the logo of Anonymous Philippines and a statement titled “Protect our Right to Freedom of Expression.”

The hacking was first noticed by the QCPD Public Information Office around

2 p.m. As of press time, the website had not been returned to normal.

Fortunately, the website (http://www.qcpdpnp.com) had no sensitive data that could compromise QCPD operations.

“The website is mostly informative in nature where the public can read about our programs, accomplishments and what numbers to call. There was no serious security breach as to the QCPD’s operations,” said Senior Supt. Joel Pagdilao, deputy district director for administration.

Less harmful

The website also did not have a feedback, comment or e-mail mechanism which Pagdilao said made Tuesday’s hacking “less harmful.”

Part of the text on the website read: “We are the voice of the weak, the sense of the numb. We are bonded by cause and purpose. We are anonymous, we are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget. Government of the Philippines, it’s too late to expect us.”

As of press time, the QCPD was working to restore the website.

Bid for attention

Pagdilao said the hacking, timed with Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court, was simply a “bid for attention.”

“This is the first time the QCPD website was hacked. These people have so much talent which could be put to better use than hacking websites,” he added.

As part of the procedure, the QCPD reported the hacking incident to the Anti Transnational and Cybercrime Division of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Division.

Pagdilao said the CIDG would have the capability to track down the hacker.

The Eat Bulaga website’s home page was not defaced. Instead, the site’s “About” page was replaced with a simple white screen with the phrase “u r alone.” written in plain black text. Private X claimed the hacking of the Eat Bulaga website on the hacker group’s Facebook page.

Centralize hosting of sites

Earlier this week, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang was studying a proposal for the government to centralize the hosting of all government websites to improve security and fend off hackers.

He said “migrating” or moving all government websites to a government host would ensure safety from hackers.

“Those (websites) that are hosted by DOST (Department of Science and Technology) are secure; for instance (the) PCDSPO (Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office) and the OG (Official Gazette), they are hosted by the government and as much as the hackers have attempted to attack the OG (website), it has never been defaced,” Lacierda said.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:32 AM
SC told cybercrime law sucks like vampire

By Cathy C. Yamsuan, Christine O. Avendaño, Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:26 am | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Likening the cybercrime law to a vampire that “sucks the life out of freedom of speech and expression,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to strike down specific provisions of the law.

Guingona delivered the opening remarks at the start of oral arguments on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, or Republic Act No. 10175, in yesterday’s en banc session of Supreme Court justices.

The cybercrime law is covered by a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the tribunal following several petitions objecting to its more stringent penalties for libel committed online and a takedown provision that allows the justice department to unilaterally close down a website. Implementation of the law has been suspended for four months until February.

Guingona initially thanked the Supreme Court for the TRO that “has thankfully put to sleep… (this) Cyber-Dracula.”

He urged the tribunal to enact a more permanent ruling on the law “to impale (it) of its ghostly provisions with the stake of reason. As cyber-Dracula lies helpless in its sleep, we plead for the final decisive action to banish our anger, anxiety and fears altogether.”

Twelve justices led by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were in attendance to question the challenges put up by the petitioners who wanted the high court to strike down the law for allegedly being unconstitutional.

Five provisions

The high court listened to petitioners argue on five provisions of RA 10175 on online libel, cybersex, punishing libel one degree higher than the penalty imposed by the Revised Penal Code, the “take-down” policy that allows the Department of Justice to block or restrict a website with libelous content, the government authority to collect traffic data and penalizing an Internet user who abets a cybercrime.

Harry Roque, among the five designated petitioners-counsels, asked the high court to strike down on the basis of the principle of “overbreadth” (being too general) as well as vague Section 4 (c)4 and 4(1) that criminalizes libel online.

Roque cited for instance the fact that blogs on the Internet had spaces for comments. “What happens now if there is a libelous comment left on the comment space. Are blog owners liable for libel and is reposting links, actionable?” he asked.

Roque also asked whether under this provision social media networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could be held liable for having posts found to contain malicious statements.

Laughter in court

It was the questioning though of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen that brought the audience outside the court to laughter.

Leonen cited the case of a former UP law student and now lawyer Chris Lao who had been subjected to cyber-bullying. Lao gained Internet infamy when he was videotaped driving his car right through flooded waters.

“Would you agree with me that there were tweets and FB posts that were quite defamatory to Chris Lao?” Leonen asked Roque, who replied that he had no personal knowledge of the posts.

Derek Ramsey’s followers

Leonen then pointed out that some people had a huge following in Twitter like actor Derek Ramsey who had 840,842 followers.

“Some of them have a stronger following which can mean they have the potential and ability to destroy others,” he told Roque.

Leonen asked Roque whether it was not the right of the State then to protect ordinary citizens.

“Therefore, is there not a right of the government, a State interest in coming in to remove the megaphones of some individuals who are careless?” Leonen said.


For her part, Sereno said she was concerned about people who committed suicide because they could no longer wait for libelous posts against them to be taken down.

Sereno then asked Roque whether the State had the “right to regulate the invasion of privacy.”

Roque said he commiserated with people who ended up killing themselves because of their situation but he also underscored the need to make a “delicate balance of interests.”

Sereno said that the high court was now trying to engage in exercising that balance of interests.

Roque said that according to the UN Human Rights Committee, the way to achieve this balance was decriminalizing libel in a way that people who were victims of libel could seek civil damages against those who offended them.

Several justices agreed with the arguments of Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares that a cyber-offender would be prosecuted for violating both the cybercrime law and the Revised Penal Code, and if found guilty would be penalized one degree higher than the penalty provided under the Code.

Double jeopardy

Colmenares said the provision violated the constitutional prohibitions on double jeopardy, cruel and unjust punishment, and due process.

“The law allows what the Constitution prohibits so that law should be struck down,” he said.

Colmenares also argued that offenses such as libel through newspaper articles did not have a substantial distinction between libel committed via Internet, and information and communication gadgets, which the law penalizes.

“No new elements were added, so the penalty should not be raised,” Colmenares argued, responding to a query from Justice Diosdado Peralta on whether the law practically provided for a different kind of libel.

All libel cyber-libel

Under questioning by Justice Antonio Carpio, Colmenares agreed that all libel would now be practically considered cyber-libel because even newspapers use computers to send and process stories.

This is because the law does not distinguish whether a computer is connected online on not, Carpio said.

Rodel Cruz, who argued against the take-down provision of the law, said the rules concerning warrantless searches and seizures should be the same whether in the real world or in cyberspace.


Cruz said Section 19 was “confisfactory” because it allowed the justice department to restrict or block one’s access to his or her computer data should the agency deemed prima facie or on first appearance that the user was violating the law.

Jesus Disini Jr., who argued against the provision authorizing the government to collect real-time data, agreed with De Castro’s observation that “the coverage [of the provision] is any one or any group.”

“There is no assurance that only real-time data are being collected,” Disini said, adding that netizens could rely only on the “conscience of the law enforcer” that their privacy was not being violated by the data collection.

Person’s identity

Asked by Carpio if collecting real-time data was just like the government asking for one’s mobile phone bill without the name and address of the owner of the account, Disini replied details on the bill could be used to reveal a person’s identity, the people he called or texted, their locations, or even the websites he visited if the cell phone had Internet connection, thus establishing his profile without the person knowing it.

Disini said any collection of real-time data should be covered by a court order so that that precise data to be collected would be specified.

The high court concluded its hearing after more than four hours.

The tribunal will convene again on Jan. 22, this time to listen to the arguments of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza on the government’s stand on the law’s implementation.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:50 AM
^^^ Cyber Libel and Take Down provisions were put in place precisely because of the speed and breadth of the Internet. All a person has to do is write down a libelous comment, post it, whether through negligence or malice, and instantly it is seen by anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world. By the time the subject of said post becomes aware of it, his / her person would have already been besmirched, if not outright cast upon with malice and evil. If the State can prevent this with the same speed, i.e. with the Take Down provision, and prosecute then punish this act proportionate to it, i.e. as Cyber Libel, is this not just fair? What if 100,000 people had already seen or read the libel before any action could be taken, papano na ang nasalanta?

To me the only thing that should be removed out of any libe law permanently is the "truth is not a defense" provision, especially is that truth has something to do with the character of anyone in public service, and such truth was hidden from the public that person supposedly serves. For example, I would not want an Environment Secretary who used to work in Big Mining or Big Oil, neither would I want to vote for someone who deliberately hid a criminal past from me while they were campaigning, i.e. convicted rapists, murderers, arsonists, plunderers, etc. And I would of course like to use such description any time I damn please against any one who is what he is, i.e. convicted rapist, convicted murderer, convicted arsonist, convicted plunderer, etc.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 11:35 AM
With bullets flying, jueteng lords lie low


By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 17, 2013 - 12:00am

VEILED WARNING: The Philippine National Police has unofficially beaten the National Bureau of Investigation, supposedly the sole agency probing the Jan. 6 massacre of 13 persons on two vehicles in Atimonan, Quezon. The police have prematurely announced it was an ambush.

With that, the PNP presumably saved face by conceding a measure of blame on policemen (and the soldiers helping out) manning the virtually deserted Atimonan checkpoint where the carnage happened.

Whatever be the final NBI official report, the ambush — plus the followup killing allegedly by the police of a gambling supervisor in Batangas *— looks like a veiled warning to jueteng lords that they better suspended operations at least for now, and not talk.

With the illegal numbers game having become a political issue, is the sample elimination of some high-profile jueteng figures part of a campaign to nip a budding problem?

The big question is how high up does the scare campaign, if indeed there is an operation plan, have official blessing.

* * *

POLITICAL COLOR: At the Supreme Court, we are watching if the hearing on the validity of the new Cybercrime Prevention Act will see the justices voting along political lines, with Aquino appointees supporting the law and those on the other side voting against it.

Not a few have noticed that the trend of questioning by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno during the oral arguments hewed to the thinking of President Noynoy Aquino. Then she just noted the plea for extending the 120-day Temporary Restraining Order on the law.

For his part, the President’s newest appointee, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, took pains to stress the need for counter-balancing press freedom rights.

But many senior magistrates appeared to think along the constitutional issues raised by those questioning the validity of RA 10175.

* * *

FLAWED LAW: Some of the many legally flawed provisions attacked by the petitioners are:

• Section 6, which punishes cybercrimes by one degree higher than the same criminal acts already covered by the Revised Penal Code.

• Section 7, which provides that prosecution under RA 10175 be without prejudice to any liability under the RPC. Such redundant liability smacks of double jeopardy.

• Section 12, which empowers law enforcement agencies to collect specified data transmitted in real time through a computer system. This is a clear violation of privacy, a sort of eavesdropping without legal basis.

• Section 19, which empowers the Department of Justice to block the flow of computer data found to be in violation of the law. Found by whom, without due process?

• Section 5, which punishes an Internet user for aiding or abetting a cybercrime offense. The provision is silent on what constitutes aiding or abetting. In the Internet, information and opinion flow fast and unhindered, making those who pass on or forward such items potentially liable.

* * *

PRIOR RESTRAINT: The law also empowers the DoJ to take down websites it finds in violation. Has the Aquino justice department been invested with powers reserved for the courts?

Arbitrary closure of websites or threats of it is a case of prior restraint which is pure and simple censorship.

While it penalizes alleged libel both in electronic and the traditional media, the RA 10175 seems confused on the differentiation of the different types of media.

Also, the Solicitor arguing for the government apparently saw no substantial difference between Internet bloggers and mainstream journalists, who are two different practitioners. He was obviously a stranger in the world of media.

* * *

GUN BAN: Back to the debate over the proposed gun ban (only police and military personnel to possess and carry firearms), we received data from reader Ron Nethercutt of Angeles City who said, “As you pointed out in your Postscript column, there is a great deal more to eliminating violence by guns than eliminating guns.”

“Switzerland, where almost every home has an automatic weapon, has the lowest murder rate by firearm than any country,” he said. “Chicago, which has one of the most stringent gun laws in the United States has the highest murder rate by firearms in the US.

“Gun bans don’t work, period. They just get votes for politicians from uneducated voters. We have to find a logical and fact-based way to stop the violence.”

* * *

MURDER RATING: Nethercutt sent a list of countries showing their relative ranking on the number of murders by firearms per 100,000 citizens. With Honduras in No. 1 position with 91.6 murders, the Philippines is No. 98 with 5.4 murders per 100,000 population.

The US is No. 108 with 4.2 murders per 100,000 population. Most of the countries above the US in the list have total gun bans.

We abbreviated the list to fit: (1) Honduras 91.6 murders; (2) El Salvador 69.2; (3) Cote d’lvoire 56.9; (4) Jamaica 52.2; (5) Venezuela 45.1; (6) Belize 41.4; (7) US Virgin Islands 39.2; (8 ) Guatemala 38.5; (9) Saint Kits and Nevis 38.2; (10) Zambia 38.0; (11) Uganda 36.3; (2) Malawi 36.0; (13) Lesotho 35.2; (14) Trinidad and Tobago 35.2; (15) Colombia 33.4; (16) South Africa 31.8; (17) Congo 30.8; (18 ) Central African Republic 29.3; (19) Bahamas 27.4; (20) Puerto Rico 26.2;

…and down the list we picked some countries and their relative ratings: (31) Panama 21.6; (32) Brazil; (46) Mexico 16.9; (49) Ecuador 15.2; (50) North Korea 15.2; (59) Papua New Guinea 13.0; (72) Russia 10.2; (81) Mongolia 8.7; (86) Indonesia 8.1; (88 Pakistan 7.8; (98 ) PHILIPPINES 5.4; (103) Thailand 4.8; (105) Laos 4.6; (108 ) United States 4.2.

* * *

01-18-2013, 07:23 AM
I don't know if this counts as a cyber crime, pero kung ako lang this guy should run for President of the United States some day. :)
Software Developer Caught Outsourcing Own Job

By Paul Wagenseil

Updated 1/16/2013 1:21:05 PM ET 2013-01-16T18:21:05

Do you fire an employee for not doing his job, or do you promote him for being brilliant?

That thought may have crossed the minds of supervisors at an unidentified American critical-infrastructure company mentioned on Verizon's computer-security blog Monday (Jan. 14).

An audit of the firm's server logs revealed an alarming amount of unexplained logins from China into the company's virtual private network.

It appeared that a Chinese hacker was breaking into the corporate network almost every day by using an employee's RSA key, a random-passcode-generating token.

But that specific employee, a software developer, was in the building every day sitting at his desk.

Had someone stolen his identity? Was this a result of the 2011 RSA hack that exposed the seed numbers for millions of passcode generators?

Fearing that millions of dollars in company secrets had been stolen by Chinese hackers, the company brought in Verizon investigators.

The team took a look at the employee's computer for evidence of malware infection. What they found amazed them.

The employee wasn't doing any work at all. He just surfed the Web and checked email all day.

Every week, he received an invoice — from China.

It turned out the employee, who was considered one of the best software developers in the company, had completely outsourced his job and was paying Chinese developers about one-fifth of his own six-figure salary.

He'd even sent the Chinese developers his passcode generator so they could log into the company's network on his behalf every day.

There was evidence he was pulling the same scam at other companies as well.

The Verizon blog posting didn't mention whether the man still worked at the company.

01-18-2013, 08:38 AM
This reminds me so much of some of the "sports bloggers" out there, and the general Internet readers' gullibility.

Manti Te’o: What a story!

Posted by Erik Wemple on January 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Deadspin’s thunderous story on the hoax of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's nonexistent dead girlfriend hit the Internet yesterday just after 4 p.m. The next hour, says Deadspin Managing Editor Tom Scocca, was anxious.

Tommy Craggs, the site’s top editor, expressed concerns about the enterprise. “Craggs kept popping up out of his chair and pacing, asking, ‘Is there any way we could have gotten this wrong?’ Then he would sit down again and then pop up again,” recalls Scocca. Relief came in the late afternoon, when Notre Dame issued a statement confirming the hoax. Here’s that statement:

On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.

Te’o himself issued an extensive statement saying that he had developed a thoroughly modern relationship with Kekua: “This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.”

Both statements confirmed the Deadspin story by Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke. Yet Deadspin staffers had every reason to feel a bit nervous about the reporting, and not just because the allegations were so explosive as to cause obsession across the land. This was a story about an alleged Internet hoax, debunked in large part by Internet reporting.

The crux of the Deadspin story hinges on Twitter-based investigation. It documents how Te’o, one of the top college football players in the country, corresponded with Kekua’s alleged Twitter personality. Digging up the correspondence wasn’t easy because Kekua had kept the account private, meaning that Deadspin could find only “bits and pieces” of the feed. One thing Deadspin did find was an “ever-changing series of avatars and a handful of Twitpics” associated with the Kekua account. Deadspin: “All of those photographs — with one important exception — came from the private Facebook and Instagram accounts of [a woman in Torrance, Calif.], whom we found after an exhaustive related-images search of each of Lennay’s images (most of which had been modified in some way to prevent reverse image searching).”

As Scocca says, “It was very nerve-racking because … you’re dealing with people who are deceiving on the Internet and now you have someone who’s saying that they’re the real person whose identity was used in the deception.” And you found that person on the Internet. In other words: How could Deadspin be sure that this woman, whom it called Reba, wasn’t furthering the hoax, deceiving the news site?

Here’s how: Reba connected Deadspin’s investigation to a former classmate of hers, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. In one of the more bizarre moments in a piece with so many of them, Reba recounts how Tuiasosopo had asked her for a photo of herself posing with a certain sign. Reba complied. That particular photo later ended up as an avatar on one of Kekua’s Twitter accounts.

And here’s the clincher: Tuiasosopo is a member of an enormous football family and was an acquaintance of Te’o.

Via phone calls and online snooping, Deadspin reaches this conclusion:

We spoke with friends and relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who asserted that Ronaiah was the man behind Lennay. He created Lennay in 2008, one source said, and Te’o wasn’t the first person to have an online “relationship” with her. One mark — who had been “introduced” to Lennay by Tuiasosopo — lasted about a month before family members grew suspicious that Lennay could never be found on the telephone, and that wherever one expected Lennay to be, Ronaiah was there instead. Two sources discounted Ronaiah’s stunt as a prank that only metastasized because of Te’o's rise to national celebrity this past season.

Deadspin never got Tuiasosopo on the line to hear his side of the story. Nor did it get Te’o or his father or Notre Dame. It also wrote a media story without consulting all the various media outlets that fell for the hoax. Why would it publish without those critical components? Competition.

Scocca, a former colleague of mine, cited a “fear that you’re going to tip them off and they will have a press conference or they’ll find a friendly reporter and get something out in a hurry,” he says. “We wanted to get comment from them but saved that till the end and weren’t able to get any responses and pulled the trigger.”

Those responses have spilled out in the aftermath of the story, though it’s unclear just how Te’o and Notre Dame plan to square their story of Internet-hoax victimhood with all of Te’o's references to this relationship. At one point, he proclaimed to ESPN that he’ll see his deceased grandmother and girlfriend “again one day,” when he never laid eyes on the latter. He couldn’t have.

Does Scocca buy Te’o's claim of victimhood? “The story is so weird that I … hesitate to guess at what’s probable or improbable. If he is, as he has said, a terrible victim of a awful hoax perpetrated against him, he is certainly a victim that has gotten a lot of benefit,” he says.

No benefit, however, for all of sports journalism, which swallowed the falsity so many times that SBNation turned the group fail into a quite compelling list. Critics simply cannot believe that so many reporters fell for it, though the history of the Internet yields one clue: Once a big-name news outlet reports something, the rest of the media is free to repeat without confirming. In this case, Sports Illustrated wrote a cover story — “The Full Manti” — that dug into the emotional trauma of this gridiron star.

Or at least the lede of the story did. Over three paragraphs, the piece by Pete Thamel spouted eight discrete facts about Te’o's ill-fated relationship with Kekua and its sorrowful end. After Deadspin got the tip that the Kekua didn’t exist, Scocca looked to the Sports Illustrated piece as a big part of the “epistemological hurdle” that Deadspin would have to clear: The evidence, that is, that would have to be rebutted to prove that this woman was someone’s fabrication. Turned out that hurdle wasn’t too lofty; Thamel’s piece cited no substantiation that Kekua ever existed, let alone died. Here’s one line from the piece:

“Her relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice.” Wonder if anyone reached out to any such relatives?

The colossal embarrassment will prompt a whole lot of soul-searching among sports-news outlets about their addiction to treacly human interest stories on big-time athletes. The outcome will be nil. There’s no way that a single story, even one as astonishing as this one, will tweak the collective instinct of generations and generations of sports reporters. These are people, after all, who will never be content to simply let sporting events speak for themselves. They must add something, and it’s all too often this sort of garbage.

After Notre Dame beat Michigan State on Sept. 15 following the alleged double-sorrow in Manti’s life, ESPN took the linebacker aside for a little chat. Te’o had recorded an impressive 12 tackles.

Heather Cox: Manti, this must be a bittersweet night, emotional week losing your grandmother and your girlfriend on Tuesday. How would you describe your emotions on the field tonight?

Te’o: [Stock response, talks about support from family.]

Cox: Can’t imagine what you’re going through…and you played inspired on the field with an interception, over 10 tackles. You came in with a challenge to stop Le’Veon Bell, how did you do it?

Te’o: [Stock response, talks about teammates, dominating]

Cox: A courageous night, our thoughts are certainly with you.

Brent Musburger: Manti Te’o, the defensive player of this game, standing tall with a heavy heart here tonight, as the Irish pull to 3-0…

Those words captured how the sports world handled Te’o's performance that night. Overcoming adversity. Here was an illustration of just how malleable, how corruptible is sports journalism’s commitment to such story lines. After all, this dear girlfriend had died, and Te’o couldn’t be bothered to see her laid to rest. “That’s not that heroic. You have a guy who blew off his girlfriend’s funeral for a football game,” says Scocca.

Sam Miguel
01-28-2013, 10:07 AM
What the French war on anti-Semitic tweets says about hate speech in France

Posted by Olga Khazan on January 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

A new French court ruling will require Twitter to release the personal data of anyone found to be tweeting racist sentiments.


The ruling comes after a legal complaint filed in October by France’s Union of Jewish Students, which argued that several tweets posted with the hashtag #agoodjew had broken a French law prohibiting incitement to racial hatred, Computerworld reported. Under the ruling, Twitter must also provide an easy way for French users to flag tweets deemed illegal under French law.

“It reminds the victims of racism and anti-Semitism that they’re not alone, and that the French law that defends them must apply everywhere; there should be no exception for Twitter,” UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun said in a statement.

Twitter has 15 days to comply with the order or risk being fined 1,000 euros a day until it does, France 24 reported. Twitter has stated repeatedly that it can’t delete tweets but that users found violating the site’s terms of service can have their accounts suspended. It’s also the company’s policy not to reveal anonymous users unless a U.S. court orders them to do so.

The case is yet another example of U.S.-based social media services butting up against European hate speech laws. Last year, Newcastle University law student Joshua Cryer admitted using the social networking site to assail soccer player Stan Collymore, who is part Afro-Caribbean, with racist tweets. He was charged under Britain’s Communications Act and was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and ordered to pay 150 pounds in fines. In October, Twitter banned a neo-Nazi account in Germany on the request of German law enforcement, the first time it had ever done so.

However, France’s crackdown on offensive tweets is also evidence of the country’s attempt to suppress racist sentiments in a public that’s both increasingly diverse and increasingly prejudiced.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have been long-simmering problems in Western Europe, but the March 2012 murder of four Jews in Toulouse by a Muslim extremist cast a spotlight on the issue. The French have recently grown more likely to believe that Jews hold too much power in business, according to a 2012 survey by the Anti-Defamation League, with more than half of French people saying they think it’s “probably true” that Jews are more loyal to Israel than France. (Granted, that same survey showed the rates for anti-Semitic beliefs are still much higher in Spain, Poland and Hungary than in France.)

Rachael Levy, a Jewish writer living in France, once speculated that France’s devotion to secular values — an idea called laïcité – actually does more to foster racism and discrimination than to prevent it, and she may have a point. According to a new Ipsos poll published by Le Monde, only 29 percent of French people believe the “vast majority of immigrants who have settled in France are well-integrated,” and 77 percent believe religious fundamentalism in France is a concern.

France’s anti-racism policy has been at times criticized for ignoring discrimination in employment and housing while focusing its efforts mostly on eradicating offensive speech. The country doesn’t collect census information on racial or ethnic minorities, for example, but it does criminalize hate speech and Holocaust denial.

But efforts to protect France’s Jewish community in particular have been stepped up over the past year amid a series of attacks on synagogues and other religious centers. After the Toulouse killings, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé pledged, “We will combat anti-Semitism in every place because every time a Jew is cursed, struck or killed, it puts all of France in the line of fire. We are not willing to tolerate anti-Semitism. It is against all French values.’’

In October, French President Francois Hollande promised to introduce legislation that would allow police to arrest suspected terrorists outside France’s borders and to access the e-mails of potential terrorists. He also said places of worship would receive increased surveillance and protection, Reuters reported.

“I have reaffirmed that the state will not compromise in fighting racism and anti-Semitism. Nothing must be tolerated,” Hollande told reporters at the time.

French groups even went so far as to sue Google for allegedly promoting “unsolicited and systematic associations between famous people and their Jewishness” through the service’s auto-complete function, meaning that typing in the name of a famous figure occasionally yields the word “Jew” or “Jewish” among the suggested searches.

If Twitter refuses to comply with the French order, French authorities can try to push the case through a U.S. court, a process that worked for the British government in a similar situation in 2011, Mashable reported.

But there are bound to be more instances of racist or offensive tweets, Facebook postings, Tumblr photos and other online ephemera created by users from France and other countries that the U.S.-based platforms will have to grapple with. How these cases unfold will say a lot, not just about governments’ commitments to fight hate speech online, but also about American companies’ willingness to alter their own service terms in the hopes of appeasing foreign governments.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:44 AM
SolGen defends cybercrime law at SC

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:06 am | Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Launching the government’s defense of the controversial cybercrime law before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza began by assuring the tribunal that the law aimed at combating crimes on the Internet was not a “24-7 Big Brother’’ lurking in cyberspace.

Jardeleza was given a chance to reply to the issues raised by petitioners who questioned the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 during the first oral arguments last Jan. 15.

Jardeleza was grilled for more than three hours on the online libel provision and its penalties as well as Section 12, which authorizes law enforcers, after finding due cause, to collect or record “traffic of data’’ in pursuing cyber offenses.

Some justices expressed misgivings that the provision may be open to abuse by law enforcers but Jardeleza pleaded with the high court to save Section 12, saying that law enforcers be given a chance to do their job.

All the members of the high tribunal were present for yesterday’s oral arguments except for Associate Justices Estella Bernabe, Presbitero Velasco and Jose Mendoza.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said the high court would “address in due time’’ the request of petitioners to extend the temporary restraining order (TRO) it earlier granted for the law’s implementation which expires on Feb. 6.

Jardeleza underscored the need for government to fight what he said was the “new scourge’’ of crimes committed on the Internet which could be effectively done through Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

He said the argument of petitioners that the law invades the right to privacy was unfounded.

“RA 10175 does not authorize 24-7 Big Brother surveillance,’’ he said.

Jardeleza said he would not defend Section 19, the provision which allows the Department of Justice to restrict or block websites found violating the law, saying that the provision was unconstitutional and “intrudes into (free speech).’’

“Should the court strike Section 19, the victory belongs to all of us who cherish free speech and expression. But Section 19 does not void the whole RA 10175,” he said.

Various justices took issue with Section 12, particularly the possible abuse of law enforcers in interpreting the “due cause’’ provision when going after data from suspected violators.

Define ‘due cause’

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo pointed out that Congress did not define what due cause was while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asked whether under this section the law was giving law enforcers “blanket authority’’ in interpreting due cause.

While Jardeleza maintained that Section 12 was constitutional, he said “we agree there could be more robust judicial safeguards’’ on this provision.

Reacting to Jardeleza’s position that liking or sharing defamatory posts could make someone liable for online libel, Associate Justice Roberto Abad remarked this sends a “chilling effect to the people.’’

“Defamation is defamation whether it’s said face to face or in cyberspace. The reputation is the same,’’ Jardeleza said.

Sereno said what was questionable was not the task of law enforcers to investigate but the standards for them to do so.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:46 AM
SolGen: Cyber law bars multiple prosecutions of authors of libelous articles

By Tetch Torres


7:28 pm | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Journalists have no reason to fear Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, government lawyers said Tuesday but justices of the Supreme Court are doubtful.

During Tuesday’s oral argument, Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza said journalist who writes for both online and newspaper cannot be separately prosecuted following the single publication rule.

“If the article is posted on the Internet and published in the newspaper or the article appears in the morning paper and also appeared on the newspapers evening edition, it is considered single publication,” Jardeleza said.

Under the Single Publication Rule, a complainant for libel has only one claim for every mass publication.

Jardeleza made the pronouncement after he was questioned by Justices of the Supreme Court on Section 7 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which allows prosecution under the law and simultaneously prosecuted for violation of the Revised Penal Code.

Section 7 of the law provides that “a prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.”

Jardeleza said Section 7 does not include libel.

“Libel is specially mentioned as content offense but Congress did not provide separate penalty for that so-called content libel,” Jardeleza said adding that Section 7 refers to other cybercrime offenses.

But Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro said “it [Section 7] does not say libel is excluded…It is not reflected in the language of the law. It [Section 7] does not say that these are different offenses.”

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, on the other hand, said Section 7 violates the prohibition against double jeopardy, which means that no person shall be tried for the same offense twice.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:48 AM
From Inquirer.net update - - -

Gov’t lawyers: Cyber law allows authorities to look into bank transactions

5:33 pm | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Government lawyers on Tuesday admitted that collection of traffic data under Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act would include collection of electronic banking transactions.

“Would the collection [of traffic data] also include electronic banking transactions,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo asked Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza during Tuesday’s oral argument.

Jardeleza said “yes.”

“Won’t this be a violation of the Bank Secrecy Law,” asked Del Castillo.

The government lawyer said no because the provision is about “hot pursuit of a hacker.”

Del Castillo has been questioning the government lawyer why Congress did not define what is a traffic data that can be collected without intervention from the courts.

Jardeleza admits that he does know why it was not clearly defined.

Under Section 12, traffic data “refers only to the communication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration or type of underlying service but not content nor identities.”

The same provision allows law enforcement authorities to collect these traffic datas without need of court authorization.

“Power to collect traffic data is subject to abuse,” Del Castillo said then asked.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:52 AM
From Inquirer.net update - - -

It’s criminally liable to like libelous Facebook post, says gov’t lawyer

4:36 pm | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The government on Tuesday admitted before the Supreme Court that liking, sharing libelous Facebook and twitter posts can make one person criminally liable, prompting a Supreme Court Justice to say that it creates a chilling effect.

“It is not an excuse that thousands of defamatory statements are on the Internet. Then, we have to scrap the law,” Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza said during Tuesday’s oral argument.

“Defamation is defamation whether we communicate through megaphones, letters, person to person, tweets, Facebook or e-mail,” Jardeleza added.

Associate Justice Roberto Abad said with the criminal liability that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 creates, “it will make me now reluctant to express my view.”

Abad likened liking and sharing of posts on Facebooks and twitters to showing a friend a libellous material posted on a bulletin board.

Jardeleza said, in that situation, there is no liability because it cannot be considered a republication.

“Unless this law is clarified, it has a chilling effect,” Abad said.

Jardeleza argued that things can go viral.

“What do we do? Until either this court says reputation is not a value anymore, this can be a difficult question,” he told Abad.

Another contentious provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, Section 12 or the Collection of Traffic Data, was also tackled and government lawyers admitted before the SC that it is “barely constitutional.”

Section 12 of the law provides that “law enforcement authorities, with due cause, shall be authorized to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system.”

The same provision of the law provides that traffic data “refers only to the communication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration or type of underlying service but not content nor identities.”

High Court Justices asked what specifically is traffic data.

During the questioning of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Jardeleza said traffic data could include private data. However, he said it cannot be considered violation of the right to privacy since no court has declared it private.

Carpio asked Jardeleza if for example a police officer tries to get a traffic data about him, will he raise the defense of privacy?

“I cannot argue privacy because the data on phone is external data therefore, that is not covered by privacy…Taking as instructive the experience in the US, in that jurisdiction, traffic data can be exercised if the trigger is a Federal State attorney,” Jardeleza said.

“But here any police can do it,” Carpio said.

“That is why my answer is it is constitutional but barely,” Jardeleza said.

Jardeleza added that collection of traffic data is allowed as long as there is “due cause.”

Carpio, together with Sereno, Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Perez asked what is due cause.

Jardeleza said “unfortunately, that is one of our misgivings under the law.”

“The law does not define what due cause means. Who will initiate the determination of due cause,” De Castro asked.

“You are right your honor,” Jardeleza said.

Sereno noted that Jardeleza himself demonstrated unease with Section 12.

“Section 12 grapples with due cause. What kind of animal is this and who will identify this animal…This section is the heart of the law, without this, this law is good for nothing,” Sereno said.

Without the Cybercrime Law, Carpio said, hacking can still be prosecuted under Republic Act 8792 or the E-Commerce Law.

“Even if we void this law, it is not a problem, hacker can still be penalized,” Carpio said.

The high court gave both the government and the anti-cybercrime law advocates 20 days to submit their memoranda.

However, extension of the restraining order on the implementation of the law will still be discussed by the court. The restraining order will expire on Feb. 5.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 07:48 AM
CA affirms libel case vs teen blogger for ‘maligning’ another girl

By Christine O. Avendaño

8:29 pm | Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld a decision by a Marikina Regional Trial Court (RTC) to proceed with a libel case and the issuance of arrest warrants against a minor and five other persons for alleged defamatory posts on a social networking site.

In an 11-page decision dated Dec. 28, 2012, recently posted on its website, the CA Special Ninth Division dismissed the petition of the girl, a minor identified only as JRV CICL-IS-NO. 08-1614, for a review of the RTC branch 192 ruling early last year. The petitioner said the judge committed “grave abuse of discretion.”

The CA decision paves the way for trial on the merits of the libel case even as the Supreme Court deliberates on the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which essentially penalizes malicious posts on such sites as Facebook and Twitter, among many others.

On March 13, 2012, an information for libel was filed in the RTC against teenager blogger, as well as Justine Dimaano, Francesa Vanessa Fugen, Roberto Armando Hidalgo, Danielle Vicaldo and Anthony Jay Foronda. The group was accused by Celine Quanico of maligning her on a blog posted by Dimaano on April 6, 2008, on the website Multiply.

Quanico said that Dimaano put a Yahoo Messenger conversation between them on her blog she titled “Meet My Backstabber Friend” but “edited” her chat name into “Jopay.”

She said several persons commented on the blog “further mocking me with contempt and insults.”

“Worse, details of confirming my identity were placed, like deliberate and obvious hints in a sarcastic fashion of a futile attempt to cover up,” Quanico said.

One of those who commented was JRV who referred to the object of the blog as a “bitch” and other derogatory names.

The libel charge against JRV and her co-accused was based on the March 24, 2011, recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Quanico went to the DOJ after a Marikina prosecutor dismissed her libel complaint in August 2009. The prosecutor said malice could not be inferred and that there was no clear reference to the complainant as the object of the blog.

The DOJ reversed the prosecutor’s findings and noted that “all the elements of libel” were present in the case.

“Calling a person ‘backstabber,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘frikin face,’ ‘mother frikin dead kid,’ ‘loser,’ ‘bakla,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘ass’ and ‘liar’ within the knowledge of other persons is defamatory because there is an imputation of a condition or a status, which tends to cause dishonor or contempt of the offended party,” the DOJ said.

The department also held it clear that the “imputation was directed”’ at Quanico, contrary to the prosecutor’s position.

“Basic is the rule that in order to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim be identifiable, although it is not necessary that she be named,” it said.

The DOJ also noted that the affidavits of three witnesses of Quanico “reveal that they recognized her as the object of the libelous statements not only probably but with a high level of certainty.”

Likewise, it noted that the facts and circumstances stated on the blog “perfectly fit the description of the complainant.”

On May 6, 2012, the Marikina RTC found probable cause for the issuance of arrest warrants against JRV and her co-accused. It also denied a motion for reconsideration filed by JRV.

In her petition for certiorari in the CA, JRV accused the RTC of grave abuse of discretion. She argued that the words “bitch” and “f*ck” were not libelous; that the blog did not give sufficient description to identify Jopay as private respondent Quanico and that she was 16 years old when the alleged offense was committed.

But in its ruling penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the appellate court said JRV’s petition was “bereft of merit.”

“Probable cause is such set of facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that the offense charged in the information or any offense included therein has been committed by the person sought to be arrested,” the CA said.

In this case, the appellate court noted the RTC judge made the finding of probable cause after examining documents submitted by the DOJ and the city prosecutor.

The CA observed that JRV “never questioned how the trial court reached the conclusion that there was probable cause,” only questioned its conclusion.

“In other words, petitioner is merely questioning the trial court’s evaluation of evidence or its factual findings which, we reiterate, are not within the ambit of a petition for certiorari,” it said.

On JRV’s statement that she was a minor when the alleged offense was committed and, thus, should be protected under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, the CA noted the city prosecutor’s certification that the accused “acted with discernment.”

Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Socorro Inting agreed with the decision.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 01:43 PM
Pentagon to boost cybersecurity force

The Pentagon is expanding efforts to safeguard critical computer systems and conduct cyberattacks against foreign adversaries, officials say.

The Washington Post Published: January 28

The Pentagon has approved a major expansion of its cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold to bolster the nation’s ability to defend critical computer systems and conduct offensive computer operations against foreign adversaries, according to U.S. officials.

The move, requested by the head of the Defense Department’s Cyber Command, is part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force. The command, made up of about 900 personnel, will expand to include 4,900 troops and civilians.

Details of the plan have not been finalized, but the decision to expand the Cyber Command was made by senior Pentagon officials late last year in recognition of a growing threat in cyberspace, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the expansion has not been formally announced. The gravity of that threat, they said, has been highlighted by a string of sabotage attacks, including one in which a virus was used to wipe dat a from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company last summer.

The plan calls for the creation of three types of forces under the Cyber Command: “national mission forces” to protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical to national and economic security; “combat mission forces” to help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations; and “cyber protection forces” to fortify the Defense Department’s networks.

Targeting ‘malicious actors’

Although the command was established three years ago for some of these purposes, it has largely been consumed by the need to develop policy and legal frameworks and ensure that the military networks are defended. Current and former defense officials said the plan will allow the command to better fulfill its mission.

“Given the malicious actors that are out there and the development of the technology, in my mind, there’s little doubt that some adversary is going to attempt a significant cyberattack on the United States at some point,” said William J. Lynn III, a former deputy defense secretary who helped fashion the Pentagon’s cybersecurity strategy. “The only question is whether we’re going to take the necessary steps like this one to deflect the impact of the attack in advance or . . . read about the steps we should have taken in some post-attack commission report.”

Although generally agreed to by the military’s service chiefs, the plan has raised concerns about how the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force will find so many qualified cybersecurity personnel and train them. It also raises deeper issues — which are likely to intensify as the Cyber Command grows over the years — about how closely the command should be aligned with the National Security Agency, the giant electronic-spying agency that provides much of its intelligence support.

The head of the Cyber Command, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, is also the director of the NSA, which employs some of the nation’s most advanced cyber-operations specialists.

The new force structure was alluded to last fall in a major speech by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who said, “Our mission is to defend the nation,” and noted that the department was “putting in place the policies and organizations we need to execute the mission.”

In an interview, a senior defense official said that the “national mission” teams would focus their efforts overseas and that any actions they took would be directed outside U.S. networks — unless the teams were asked to provide assistance to another agency with domestic authority, such as the FBI.

"There’s no intent to have the military crawl inside industry or private networks and provide that type of security,” the official said.

He stressed that the military would act only in cases in which there was a threat of an attack that could “really hurt,” adding: “We’re not talking about doing something to make sure that Mrs. Smith’s bank account didn’t get hijacked by somebody.”

The plan to expand the Cyber Command comes at a time when the military’s services are being ordered to cut spending, a reflection of how important senior military officials consider the need to improve the nation’s cybersecurity footing. Some military officials have grudgingly accepted the need to contribute personnel to an expanded cybersecurity force. There are also differences over how much control the combatant commands will have over cyber teams.

The “combat mission” teams may help commanders in operations such as a cyber component to disable an enemy’s command-and-control system before a conventional attack. Each region will have teams that focus on particular threats — say, from China or Iran.

“You get the resource guys sucking a lot of air through their teeth because they know their service chiefs have backed it,” one Navy official said. “So they have to find the resources to pay for the people.”

Alignment with NSA

Some military and defense officials question whether the Cyber Command can reach its full potential as a military command as long as it is so dependent on the NSA and is led by the NSA’s director. The close relationship between the two has had its advantages, officials say: The agency can peer into foreign networks and provide the command with intelligence, including in cases in which an adversary is suspected of planning a computer attack or developing a potent virus.

“That gives you an advantage of being able to plan for and be prepared to react,” the defense official said.

But the NSA is so intertwined with the Cyber Command — the two operations centers are located side by side, and, until recently, some Cyber Command personnel had nsa.gov e-mail addresses — that some current and former officials wonder whether the military command can create an independent, strategic doctrine. The concern is that the intelligence agency’s priorities will dominate, with an emphasis on the development of tools that are useful for surveillance but not necessarily for disrupting adversaries.

There’s a “cogent argument” to be made that for the Cyber Command to become a true military command, “you sever that” relationship, one military official said.

But, in fact, said one former intelligence official, the NSA uses military personnel to do much of its work and pays for a good portion of the services’ cyber operators. “That’s been the plan all along,” the former official said. “Take the talent resident in NSA, turn it into [cyber] attack talent.”

With the decision to expand the Cyber Command, Alexander, who has been asked to stay on until summer 2014, is seeing some of his vision fulfilled. He has sought independent budget authority for the Cyber Command to hire and control forces, similar to the way Special Operations Command can. He has not won that authority, though officials agreed to give him the additional forces. He also has the support of senior Pentagon officials to elevate the Cyber Command to full command status, out from under the aegis of Strategic Command. But that move, which requires consulting with Congress, is not happening just yet, officials say.

Sam Miguel
02-05-2013, 10:52 AM
SC tackles cybercrime law cases today

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 5, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is set to tackle legal challenges to the Cybercrime Prevention Act today, the eve of the expiration of its 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of Republic Act 10175.

The 15 consolidated petitions, which were heard by the high court in oral arguments last month, have been included in the agenda of the regular full-court session of justices.

The justices, according to an insider, are set to decide whether or not to grant the petitioners’ request to extend the TRO.

One of the petitioners, UP law professor Harry Roque Jr., explained that the extension was needed to prevent the implementation of questionable provisions of the controversial law.

In open hearing last Jan. 29, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno vowed to resolve the motion for extension of the TRO “at the proper time.”

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza had conceded earlier that Section 19 of RA 10175, which authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to block or restrict access to computer data without a court warrant, is unconstitutional.

During interpellation of justices, he was also made to admit that Section 12 of the law is “hardly constitutional.”

Jardeleza, who represents the executive and legislative branches of government in this case, confirmed that mere clicking “like,” “share” or “retweet” on libelous posts on Facebook and Twitter may hold a netizen criminally liable under the law.

Apart from these two provisions, petitioners also questioned the constitutionality of the online libel provision in Section 4 (c) of the law.

Roque’s group filed an amended petition last week, asking the high court to also strike down all sections on libel in the Revised Penal Code (RPC), on which this provision was based.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño called on the online community to prepare to stage “digital civil disobedience” should the SC fail to extend the TRO today.– With Paolo Romero

Sam Miguel
02-05-2013, 10:55 AM
From Philstar.com - - -

Penalize 'electronic violence' against women, Gabriela says

Updated February 5, 2013 - 10:28am

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers from the Gabriela Party-list have proposed to penalize a person who records, reproduces and distributes videos showing the victim’s private area or naked body without her consent causing emotional or psychological distress or suffering.

Reps. Emmi De Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan said House Bill 6815, which defines Electronic Violence Against Women (E-VAW), seeks to amend Republic Act 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act by eliminating any creative legal defense that may be used by violators of the law to manipulate technology to inflict violence against women and children.

In pushing for the measure, De Jesus said the incidence of E-VAW is rising even with Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 because the special relationship among parties under R.A. 9262 was not taken into account.

“While it is not difficult to see that in this age and time and given its speed and reach, the Internet and communications technology (ICT) can cause more damage and violence which are often indelible in nature, it is regrettable that RA 9262 failed to positively mention the existence of this form of violence now known as electronic violence against women or E-VAW,” De Jesus said.

E-VAW refers to any act that involves the use or exploitation of information and communications technology that causes or is likely to cause mental, emotional or psychological distress or suffering to the victim.

Under the measure, it is unlawful to record, reproduce or distribute video/s showing the victim’s naked body, genitals, pubic area, buttocks or breast without her consent.

The measure shall penalize persons who upload or share without the consent of the victim any media that contain pictures, voice or video with lewd, indecent or sexual content or context.

Likewise, harassing or threatening the victim, stalking and using the victim’s picture, video, voice, name or any other aspect of the victim’s identity in any video game, phone application, program and the like, which puts or tends to put the victim in a bad light, shall be penalized.

In addition to imprisonment, the perpetrator shall be fined with not more than P500,000; undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and report compliance to the court.

To safeguard the victim from further harm, minimize any disruption in the victim's daily life, and facilitate the opportunity and ability of the victim to independently regain control over her life, an E-VAW Protection Order shall be issued to immediately block, blacklist, and remove any upload, program or application that causes or tends to cause violence against the victim.

Once issued, the E-VAW protection order shall be valid while the case is pending and until the same is revoked by an Order of the court.

“In this growing technology-dependent society, it is our beholden duty to also update our laws in order to address the fast-changing realities and means of commission of crimes,” Ilagan said.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:24 AM
SC extends indefinitely suspension of cyberlaw

By Christine O. Avendaño, Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:38 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended indefinitely its order suspending the implementation of the cybercrime law, which would penalize with imprisonment offensive posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites and which critics said would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

The court ruling came a day before Congress adjourns for the election without the House of Representatives acting on the long-pending proposed Freedom of Information Act, regarded as the foundation of any democratic state conscious of the people’s right to know. This means the bill is again dead in the water and will be back to square one in the new Congress.

“The temporary restraining order (TRO) in the cybercrime case is extended until further orders from the court,” the tribunal’s public information office said in a text message to reporters.

“We submit to the court’s discretion and respect such a decision to extend the TRO,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told Agence France-Presse in a text message. “It’s not a total defeat. It’s just a TRO pending determination of the merits of the petitions.”

President Aquino signed the law in September last year, amid huge online protests, to stamp out cybercrimes such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography.

‘It’s not perfect law’

But opponents swiftly sued over provisions that authorize heavy prison terms for online libel and give the state powers to shut down websites and monitor online activities.

The high court last October issued a four-month injunction that was to have lapsed on Wednesday, as it scrutinized the law for possible violations of constitutional provisions on freedom of expression.

De Lima did not say how long the new injunction would be in force and Supreme Court officials declined to comment.

“As the President said, it’s not a perfect law, and even the solicitor general had questions about the take-down provision,” Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a text message. “We will abide by the processes and decisions of the court.”

‘Like,’ or ‘share’ punishable

During the court hearings, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said that a simple “like” or “share” of a Facebook post, or a “retweet” on Twitter, of a libelous statement constituted a violation of the law.

“Hallelujah! TRO will prevent chilling of exercise of freedom of speech pending decision on merits of constitutionality of cybercrimes prevention law,” University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque said in a text message.

Roque was among over a dozen petitioners who had argued against the law’s constitutionality in the hearings called by the Supreme Court. He opposed the online libel provisions in the law.

“We urge the Supreme Court to repeal the entire law so that Congress can draft another law that would only cater to specific cybercrimes like child pornography on the Internet,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said in a text message.

He said the entire cybercrime law was unconstitutional, including online libel. He also urged the high tribunal to strike down the libel provision in the Revised Penal Code.

“No one should be imprisoned for the mere exercise of the constitutional right to free expression,” Colmenares added.

Back to square one

As in the last Congress, the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which has been pending for over a decade, met its death in the House of Representatives.

With only one session day to go before the present congress adjourns, the FOI bill has yet to be debated in the House, making it impossible to be approved on second and third reading. President Aquino also refused to certify it as urgent. He promised to pass the measure when he ran for President.

The Senate has long passed its version of the measure.

The bill was only sponsored in the House plenary last week after much delay getting it out of the public information committee chaired by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

But debates did not push through because of threats from the House minority to question the quorum and have the session adjourned should the bill be taken up.

With the bill stalled and dying in the plenary, it would have to be refiled in the next Congress, where it would be back to square one and would need to start at the committee level again.


Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, who supported an FOI bill but rejected the Palace amendments to the current version of the measure, said it was the President’s own men who killed it in Congress, taking their cue from Aquino’s apparent lack of interest.

“Evardone’s throwing in the towel is just the last nail on the coffin that was designed and built by the President himself, whose refusal to certify the bill or even include it in his priority measures spelled its doom,” Casiño said in a recent statement.

He said it was ironic that the President spoke at the 5th Global Organizations of Parliamentarians against Corruption when it was his administration that killed the measure that was supposed to help battle corruption.—With reports from TJ Burgonio and AFP

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:24 AM
Angara, Sotto welcome indefinite TRO on cyber law

By Matikas Santos

5:00 pm | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Edgardo Angara, the principal author of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, welcomed the indefinite temporary restraining Order (TRO) on the law handed down by the Supreme Court (SC) Tuesday.

“That’s good because the next Congress will have time to revise and see what needs to be refined and changed in the cybercrime law,” Angara told reporters Tuesday.

He said that it was also a good thing the SC issued a TRO so that “whatever weaknesses [it may have] can be addressed by the next Congress. We no longer have time to correct what the SC says should be corrected.”

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was previously issued a TRO in October last year after 15 petitioners questioned the constitutionality of the law.

Section 19, which allows the Department of Justice to take down a website without a court warrant, and Section 12, which allows authorities to obtain traffic data, were particularly assailed by the petitioners.

Majority Floor leader Vicente Sotto III, also welcomed the TRO saying “that’s OK because it’s just a TRO that is indefinite.”

“They are not saying it is unconstitutional, they are still studying it so it’s OK,” Sotto said.

The Senate will take a break beginning Wednesday to give way to the May 2013 election campaign.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:57 AM
SC Extends TRO On Cyber Law

By Rey G. Panaligan

February 5, 2013, 7:51pm

MANILA, Philippines --- The Supreme Court (SC) extended indefinitely yesterday the effectivity of its temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the government from implementing Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

This means that the government cannot implement the new law until the 15 petitions earlier filed calling for extending the TRO are resolved with finality by the SC. The TRO issued on Oct. 29, 2012, was supposed to expire today.

Sources said the amended petitions against RA 10175, which challenged the constitutionality of all provisions in the Revised Penal Code (RPC) that define and penalize libel as a crime, would be included in the forthcoming SC decision on cybercrime.

In a second amended petition, a group led by University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque Jr. and journalist Ellen Tordesillas said the constitutionality of the libel provisions in the RPC should be resolved in relation to the challenge on RA 10175.

Sought to be declared unconstitutional are Articles 353, 354, 355, 361, and 362 of Act No. 3185 that was signed into law on Dec. 8, 1930.

“Upon due hearing, the instant petition be granted declaring Article 355, as well as Articles 353, 354, 361, and 362, of Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code to be unconstitutional,” the second amended petition stated.

In their first amended petition in relation to RA 10175, Roque’s group challenged only Article 355 of the RPC that penalizes libel for the past 82 years.

The group stated that decriminalizing libel under the RPC would promote the constitutional rights to free expression and of speech and of the press.

“The arguments raised by petitioners in assailing the validity of the ‘cyber libel’ provision as found in RA 10175 are equally applicable to questioning the constitutionality of Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code since the new law refers to the crime as defined in the Revised Penal Code. An attack on the constitutionality of RA 10175 is inevitably an attack on the validity of Art. 355 of the Revised Penal Code,” it said.

The SC had conducted oral arguments on the 15 petitions against certain provisions of RA 10175.

Several SC justices had expressed apprehensions over the “chilling effect” of the libel provision in the new law

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:01 AM

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:28 am | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

When the Supreme Court issued a four-month-long temporary restraining order against the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act last October, the unusual length of the TRO was widely interpreted as a deferential gesture. The high court wanted to spare Congress the embarrassment of a new law being declared unconstitutional, by giving it enough time to amend or revise the law’s controversial provisions.

That is certainly how the Inquirer saw it at the time. But we should have known better, because it has become obvious that escaping the specter of embarrassment does not rank high on Congress’ list of priorities.

The lack of action on the part of Congress has forced the Supreme Court’s hand. It conducted two lengthy rounds of oral arguments in the last three weeks, and on Tuesday, in the clearest sign that the cybercrime law is in trouble, it extended the TRO indefinitely. “The temporary restraining order in the cybercrime case is extended until further orders from the court,” the tribunal’s information office announced through a text message.

We join the many who welcome the extension of the TRO; we realize, together with other free speech advocates and critics of sweeping government powers online, that until the patently unconstitutional law is struck down, we cannot rest or take victory for granted. But we do recognize that the indefinite extension of the restraining order has already had an immediate impact. None of the law’s provisions, including the absurd and unthinking application of antiquated libel laws to online content, can be used to harass online users.

The so-called “chilling effect” on online speech and Internet user habits remains a potential, not an actual, threat. (Still, in a ruling dated Dec. 28, 2012, the Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Marikina Regional Trial Court to proceed with a libel case and the issuance of arrest warrants on a minor and five other persons for supposed defamatory posts on a social networking site.)

Extrapolating court rulings from oral arguments is always a tricky undertaking. It is possible to view the justices’ demeanor during the oral arguments on the cybercrime law, however, as a kind of role-playing conducted in public; they wanted to place themselves in the lawmakers’ shoes.

In the first round, at least two justices launched inquiries with disquieting implications. The questions they raised during the second round, however, together with those raised by other justices, suggest that the high court as a whole was bending over backward to think like the legislators who produced the law. As more than one of them said, they want to save the law as much as they can.

But what, really, is there to save? Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza is on record as saying that one of the main and most controversial provisions, the so-called takedown clause that allows the Department of Justice to “take down” websites it deems problematic, is unconstitutional. And this is the part of the law that benefited from considerable preparation!

Other unconstitutional provisions, such as the unthinking extension of the antiquated provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code to “cyberspace” and the alarming increase in the penalties for cyber-libel, were rushed, as even a cursory reading of the legislative journals will readily prove. Is it any surprise that the law’s real-world consequences are so cavalier, so casually cruel?

The Senate’s manifest lack of due diligence means, for example, that a person logged on to Facebook who “Likes” a possibly libelous post on that social networking site is also liable for cyber-libel—an interpretation of the law with which Jardeleza himself agreed during the oral arguments. And if convicted, that person will be meted a penalty one degree higher than a person convicted of committing libel through the old-fashioned way.

The rank unfairness of it all explains the widespread revulsion that met the law when President Aquino signed it in September.

If the prospect of embarrassment did not move Congress, perhaps opportunity will. We hope the Supreme Court will give the members of the incoming Congress a chance to craft a much better law, by ruling that the cybercrime law is unconstitutional, and taking it down for good.

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:17 AM
^^^ Let me just repeat one more time that libel is libel, and slander is slander, and that besmirching a person's reputation, or that casting aspersion upon someone's person, especially in public and most especially behind a person's back, should be a crime. This takes no cognizance as to medium used in the besmirching or casting of aspersions thereof. Such acts are just plain wrong. We would not want to have someone talking shit behind our backs to anybody who cares to listen do we? Why then do we resist a law that punishes that in this new cyber world we all now inhabit? I think it is simply because we may finally lose that anonimity that an online persona provides, meaning we can no longer be cowardly and trecherous toward our fellows, because when online libel becomes a crime we can get sued. You know, we will finally HAVE TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS.

That said I still think the truth-is-not-a-defense provision should be repealed. Hell, that clause should have been repealed last century. Especially so if we are talking about a public official, whether elected or appointed, hiding a crime he / she committed, or a crime he / she benefitted from whether directly or indirectly, whether through action or inaction.

For example, an incumbent Mayor's father, who was also once a Mayor himself, told his son before the last election that his son would run unpposed. The son is confused because he knows for a fact he would be running against a strong challenger in their former Number 1 Councilor. The father says "he had it taken care of", and for the son not to worry. Knowing his father, the son understood and said nothing. In the next election, an intrepid reporter from a national daily digs up the dirt and runs a weel-long expose series that gets the front page of his paper and the homepage of his paper's online edition. The reporter has all of his facts, including cited eyewitnesses, accomplices, even forensic reports that were supposedly hidden away.

The Mayor and his father sue the reporter and his paper for libel, as this story clearly has ruined Hizzoner and his family. it does not matter if it is true and fully corroborated. THIS is the exact kind of bullshit that the current libel provisions protect, and the exact kind of bullshit we need to do away with. Let's face it, do we really want this kind of man as our mayor after knowing this? And yet he and his family kept it hidden from the voters (of course!).

But in any other circumstance, a person must have the right to defend himself and get redress in at least an equal measure from anybody libeling or slandering him. Period.

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 09:37 AM
DOJ punishes Facebook felonies

By Oscar Franklin Tan

8:13 pm | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Would you jail a 16-year-old girl for libel? Would you jail a 16-year-old girl for calling another girl “B-I-T-C-H,” “backstabber,” and “stupid f*ckin’ playin’ innocent” on Multiply.com? Our Court of Appeals and Department of Justice say yes.

This is the state of our law: Taking childish tantrums to social media can land a teen in Bilibid, alongside murderers, rapists, and Carlos Celdran. When Sen. Ed Angara sponsored a law to protect our data processing industry, he never imagined vindictive children would rank above China’s hackers and overzealous prosecutors.

In April 2008, Justine Dimaano aka Tatzmenot, then about 18, put up a Multiply post, “Meet MY backstabber FRIEND;p.” Notches below literary quality, it featured gems such as “I super frikin wanting to kill her and make her the frikin next assuming queen! :)),” “ang looser,” “how I wish na meron sxang balls so I cud kick it as hard as I can :)” and “I bet she doesn’t have real friends like me.”

The plot thickened when Tatzmenot’s friends chimed in with equally inane, childish insults. (One, “JRV,” was 16. She was later deemed to have acted with discernment when she invoked the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.)

Celine Quanico, also about 18 then, recognized part of the post as her Yahoo Messenger chats with Tatzmenot, except her username was changed. Quanico read the cruel comments and found several details hinting at her identity, even though her name and Multiply username were not used.

The teenage drama was not as fleeting as most. By 2012, a court was weighing whether to issue warrants of arrest for Tatzmenot and her Multiply confederates in a criminal libel case—note, before the Cybercrime Law existed.

JRV asked the Court of Appeals to block the charges. It had limited grounds to stop a trial that had not even begun and properly declined. The charges were anchored on DOJ findings that the case was sufficiently strong, arguing with justifiable legal basis that taunts such as “B-I-T-C-H” and “looser” are potentially libelous and details in the taunts may have identified Quanico as the target even if she was not named. Note that the Court of Appeals resolved only whether the trial should proceed and a verdict is still far away, but the story of crime on Multiply was traumatic enough for teens in college.

Law must adapt to the Internet because it combines the carefree spontaneity of oral conversation with the permanence of writing. Before Multiply and Facebook, Tatzmenot and Celine_quanico might have had a screaming match in a playground and would have eventually returned to speaking terms after several weeks. The Internet, however, bears silent witness to every online indiscretion and every careless phrase. The judicial record of “Meet MY backstabber FRIEND;p” will forever form part of their Google footprints.

Those older than 35 may never understand growing up with the Internet. It has been a joy to see my younger cousins blossom into women in Instagram photos and Facebook event posters. I have seen their candid reactions to entering college, choosing organizations, meeting Ateneo accounting for the first time, and the possibility of a secret admirer. I have seen superficial fights—or what appear to be superficial fights, if one misreads the smiley overdose—and other Facebook exchanges that cause one’s IQ to drop with every post. Someday, they or their children will cringe and then laugh at the conversations of their teenage selves. With the written word liberated from its former formality, we realize that we do not need to take seriously what the Internet has made permanent.

Even free-speech advocates would hesitate to accuse the CA and DOJ of abuse. Free speech would be a hard sell, as Tatzmenot’s harsh messages barely convey ideas and are practically distilled ridicule. Nor is Celine_quanico a “public figure” arguably a fair subject of public comment, unlike Chris Lao or the Amalayer girl. One is left wondering how on earth an apparently correct application of law converted a teenage Multiply squabble into a potential jail term for a 16-year-old girl.

The Tatzmenot scandal emphasizes how archaic it is for libel to be punished with imprisonment. Sadly, moves in Congress to decriminalize libel have gained little traction despite the present outcry.

The case makes one cheer nudging the Supreme Court to excise libel from the Revised Penal Code. One begins to sympathize with how Prof. Harry Roque used the Cybercrime Law hearings as a platform to attack the real-world libel law, and no less than Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio outlined during the oral arguments how the circa-1930 libel criminal provision may contradict our post-Edsa Constitution. We also understand former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who ordered that libel should be punished by fine and not imprisonment even if this was arguably beyond his power.

At the Internet’s dawn, I asked Ateneo’s Fr. Roque Ferriols, SJ, whether it would distort human relationships because its anonymity allows deception and impunity. He replied simply that there remains a person behind each Internet account, and we are free to use the Internet to deceive or to realize our full human potential.

Google reveals that the players on Tatzmenot’s stage finished college under criminal prosecution’s shadow; one is even an aspiring doktora. Hopefully, life has taught them what no law can: Technology changes, values do not.

Oscar Franklin Tan (Twitter @oscarfbtan) teaches constitutional law at the University of the East. Judge for yourself the Tatzmenot saga as told by our Court of Appeals at www. facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 09:46 AM
^^^ Thos highlighter portions, Atty Tan, are precisely why we need statutory protection in this cyber age.

As you yourself said above, "The Internet, however, bears silent witness to every online indiscretion and every careless phrase." It is there for all to see. And if it is an insult, then someone obviously has been hurt. Wala na sanang kaso kung hindi pumalag o hayaan na lang ng pinatungkulan ng insulto o paninirang-puri. But some people do put up a fight, do want to make those who hurt them pay, and that is as it should be.

We should always take responsibility for our own actions, and face the consequences of everything we do. Why should it be any different just because it is in the cyber world? Bawal na ba ngayon na panagutin ang mga may-sala dahil sa "Internet lang" naman naganap ang pagkakasala?

And I agree precisely with your other sentiment highlighted above, "...its anonimity allows deception and impunity..." Present-day Filipinos are basically a--holes, who do not have the guts to call someone out to their faces. Thank God for the Internet, where 10footdong and cuntellinapudenda can lambast anyone they feel like without fear of reprisal since no one knows who they really are. THAT is what we cannot have.

02-10-2013, 06:20 AM
Isumbong niyo na lang kay Uncle Sam. Ika nga ni Obama mala Martin Luther King, " I HAVE A DRONE..." Cybercrime. There is a solution for that as envisioned by the DHS, an internet kill switch with matching remote controlled drones. Kaya kayong mga cyber. Ter.. Remote control lang katapat niyo.

WIth your own drone, justice is swift.

02-11-2013, 11:16 AM
Isumbong niyo na lang kay Uncle Sam. Ika nga ni Obama mala Martin Luther King, " I HAVE A DRONE..." Cybercrime. There is a solution for that as envisioned by the DHS, an internet kill switch with matching remote controlled drones. Kaya kayong mga cyber. Ter.. Remote control lang katapat niyo.

WIth your own drone, justice is swift.

Well at this point pian uusapan na sa USkung legal ba yang ganyang gawain ni Obama o hinde. . hehehe

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 09:14 AM
Law and behold

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:54 pm | Monday, February 11th, 2013

A couple of things show how sifting through things can help us avoid problems. One is Pia Cayetano filing a bill that calls for the repeal of an “antiquated” law that curtails freedom of expression. Two is the Supreme Court issuing a new TRO stopping government from enforcing the Cybercrime Law. I warmly applaud the second, I’m not so sure about the first.

Cayetano explains her initiative thus: “[Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code] punishes anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful…. Freedom of speech and expression is essential to a sovereign state…. A person living in a democracy cannot expect that his beliefs will be free from all criticism.”

In fact freedom of expression has little, if nothing, to do with it. The confusion stems from the reason the courts gave for sending Carlos Celdran to jail, which is offending religious sensibilities. This is not a case of offending religious sensibilities, this is a case of violating the right to worship. I agree the latter is not a crime deserving of jail, which means I also agree with Cayetano’s move to remove it from the Penal Code, which prescribes criminal sanctions for it. But I do not agree that one is well within his rights to do something like this, a right covered by freedom of expression. It is a transgression, and though it does not deserve jail, it deserves censure.

The matter becomes clearer if you look at the case of Mideo Cruz. Cruz has not been prosecuted or jailed, and for good reason. He has offended religious sensibilities, far more than Celdran. He has painted religious icons in ways that the pious have called blasphemous and sacrilegious, but that is his right. That is how he sees things as an artist. That is freedom of expression. The Church has called him names, one Cultural Center official has resigned, the faithful have reviled him: That is their right, too. But they may not do anything else.

Invading a church or interrupting a religious service is another matter entirely. That is not a right, that is a wrong. Of course it offends religious feelings, but that is not all it does. It interrupts a person in the middle of communing with his God. That is foul. Proscribing it quite incidentally is not just for the protection of the worshipper, it is for the protection of the transgressor. Try doing that in the middle of a Black Nazarene or Our Lady of Peñafrancia procession and see if you live to tell the tale, or live to be in jail.

You want to abrogate Article 133, or remove it from the Penal Code, on the ground that the punishment is worse than the crime itself, that’s fine. But you want to abrogate it on the ground of freedom of expression, that’s dangerous. People have as much right to worship as they have to express themselves.

The principle is still live and let live, and not, as Ian Fleming, James Bond, and Paul McCartney put it, live and let die.

From the other end, I laud the Supreme Court for preventing the Cybercrime Law from taking effect. I will laud it even more if it prevents it permanently from taking effect by declaring it unconstitutional. At least in its present form with all those libel provisions. Those things infringe on free speech, those things infringe on free expression.

It’s not true at all that if you do not overstep the bounds of truth, you’ll have nothing to fear from the law. At the very least, P-Noy will not be President forever. The law will, unless it is amended, abridged, or revoked, which will require some doing after inertia sets in. You have a law like that under a Gloria Arroyo-type, you’re going to be in deep organic fertilizer.

At the very most, even under P-Noy’s rule, it will be open to abuse. It will be the hardest thing to call anyone corrupt, or hint at it. Not Erap, who has been convicted of it; not Gloria, who will be prosecuted for it; not Juan Ponce Enrile, who has written a book saying he is the opposite of it; not Renato Corona, who continues to remain free despite having been ousted as chief justice under the weight of it; not even Ferdinand Marcos, who gave whole new dimensions to it. The law is on their side. We saw during the Erap and Corona impeachment trials how law functions in this country: It is the magic wand that makes black white and white black.

The Cybercrime Law takes effect, you’re going to have libel suits flying all over the place. From the same crowd that shrilly wants “right of reply.”

Do we have recklessness and irresponsibility in cyberspace? Yes. In the same way we do in mainstream media—radio, TV, and the tabloids are full of it. But jailing the offenders, like jailing Celdran, doesn’t solve the problem, it makes it worse.

Far, far worse in the case of media, social or mainstream. That’s so because for all the excesses of cyberspace, it has been an enormously potent force for people empowerment. The social media in particular have allowed ordinary citizens, and not just pundits, reputable or self-appointed, to weigh in on issues of national importance, particularly corruption. Something they have not been able to do in the past. We need it if we are going to fight corruption, or want to succeed in it. Government can only do so much, the public has to do the rest. Public opprobrium helps, public revulsion helps, public excoriation helps, the way it does in other countries where public officials sullied by scandals are forced to take their leaves, if not take their lives.

That should be encouraged, not dissuaded. That should be embraced, not scorned. That should be cherished, not threatened.

Some laws make you feel lofty, some just make you say:

Law and behold.

02-27-2013, 03:33 PM
How to Slander Online Now That Google Won't Protect You

By: Chris Bucholz

August 25, 2009

A court case has recently finished that has some significant legal ramifications for how anonymity is treated on the Internet. Last week a judge ordered Google to reveal the identity of a blogger who had been writing unkind things on her blog about Liskula Cohen, a New York model. The unkind things focused on Ms. Cohen's antics while out on the town - I'm told the word "skank" featured predominantly. That this precedent setting decision with First Amendment implications is now widely referred to as the "skank case" is one of the small joys that life sometimes throws your way.

If the decision sticks, this will mean that Internet users can no longer rely on hosting companies and Internet service providers protecting their identity if they post slanderous content on the Web. Before we progress any further, I'll head off the nasally protests from computer-people now: Yes, there's still ways to stay anonymous on the Internet. In this case Google could only give up the email address and IP address the blogger used when using the blog. Someone using free email accounts and proxy severs or public wifi spots to disguise their IP address could still easily remain anonymous. Of course, anyone who understands what all of that meant is going to be a computer-person and, fortunately for us, computer-people almost never have something interesting to say. You know the people I'm talking about. They're always talking about Stargate or anime porn or kernels or some shit. If Robodong42 wants to talk shit about your mama's Python compiler from behind his 256-bit encrypted, TOR-routed, Ukranian bathhouse Internet connection, let him. No one will care.

Assuming then that most people who have something interesting to say won't be able to stay anonymous, what options do they have? Aside from not slandering people, obviously. (What a nightmarish world that would be.) Well, after consulting my lawyer I think I've come up with some handy guidelines you can use when framing your writing, so you can diss as many skanky models as you want without getting in trouble.

As a framework for this discussion, let me set up the following example. Let's assume I'm writing a column about Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio, within which I plan to reveal several things about him that were perhaps unflattering. How could I frame such a column to avoid the potential of a lawsuit, while still maximizing the comedic value of hurtful lies?

Guideline #1: It's not slander if it's true.

For example, if I was to say that Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio was a common gutter slut, that would be slander. (There's nothing common about his gutter sluttiness.) But if I were to say Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio was a syphilitic man whore, that wouldn't be slander, because it's demonstrably true. An extensive (and disgusting) public record already exists documenting it.

Guideline #2: The public has an interest in knowing these facts.

The "truth" defense doesn't always work though. Often courts will demand that there be a "public interest" in you disseminating whatever facts you're trying to spread. For example, if Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio was a threat to young boys and farm animals, which he is, then I could claim my column was a justifiable method of informing the people and livestock of Greenden, Ohio about the threat living in their midst, and also driving around in a blue Toyota Tercel in their midst.

Guideline #3: Slander must be a statement of fact.

As we like to say around here at Cracked, "The truth value of a statement of opinion is untestable in court." Because opinions can't be proved to be true or false, it's difficult to claim they're slander. Using this guideline, let's say I title my column I think Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio is a Cancer Upon Society.

Obviously the trap here is that when stating an opinion, you almost always want to outline the facts which have caused you to hold said opinion. It's well and good to say that I believe Mr. Moore is a polyp embedded in the rectum of evil, but I won't convince people to take a similar stance unless I back that statement up with some facts. If the facts I enumerate aren't all exactly true, then I could be potentially slandering the shit necked lamb fucker.

Guideline #4: Even if the statement you made is false, if you made the statement in good faith, believing it's true, you may be protected.

Using our example here, let's say I have good reason to believe Trevor has been collecting foreskin from circumcised infants and fashioning them into a weird little fingerless glove. And let's say I found out about this from a reputable source, like the people at Trevor-Moore-Watch.org. So I go ahead and post it in my column, letting the world know what this frequent highway rest stop visitor was doing. Later we find out that the original story was false; Trevor wasn't making a glove out of all that stolen foreskin, he'd just been hoarding it for unspecified reasons. I would have a pretty strong defense here, simply because I didn't know I was telling a falsehood.

I should point out this is a touchy defense, because I would have to demonstrate I had followed some degree of care here. In this case I would claim that I was using a reliable source. But if the court felt I was being negligent, and deliberately ignoring countervailing facts, I would be up shit creek, just like Trevor Moore, because he bathes there.

Guideline #5: You cannot defame someone who already has a terrible reputation.

Another defense which has sometimes been used in cases like this is claiming that the plaintiff is incapable of being defamed. If everyone already knew that Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio was a Hitler-esque rape-monster, then it would be impossible for Mr. Moore to claim my column had damaged his reputation. No damages means no lawsuit. Again, I would suggest you be very careful using this guideline. My lawyer says this principle hasn't been tested thoroughly in court.

Guideline #6: Frame all your hate filled lies as a how-to guide.

If I was to take all the venomous bile I was going to spew against habitual donkey-fister Trevor Moore of Greenden, Ohio, and frame them as "examples" in a comedic piece on how to avoid charges of slander, I'd be perfectly in the clear. "Checkmate," my lawyer confirms. We share a high five.

Sam Miguel
03-01-2013, 09:39 AM
Cyber security threat: P.L.A. Unit 61398


By Roberto R. Romulo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 1, 2013 - 12:00am

“Global dependence on the Internet expands by leaps and bandwidth every day. Nations depend on a cyber infrastructure that enables the operation of financial markets, transportation networks, taxation and energy grids, as well as the public agencies protecting the health and security of their citizens. Defense and intelligence agencies depend on cyber networks to manage far-flung operations, analyze intelligence data and implement homeland security, military logistics and emergency services.”

“With this growth come ever-greater risks as well as opportunities. Advanced persistent threats reflect the risks posed by adversaries with the sophistication, resources and determination to cause real and permanent damage by exploiting the architecture of networks, and of cyberspace itself.” (CIASC, Stanford University).

Quoting from a New York Times article of David Sanger, David Barboza and Geoffrey Periroth: “The building off Datong Road (in Shanghai), surrounded by restaurants, massage parlors and a wine importer, is the headquarters of People’s Liberation Army, Unit 61398. A growing body of digital forensic evidence — confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years – leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower.”

Kenneth Leiberthal, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute stated: “As recent news reports highlight, the US government and cyber security firms are increasingly naming names as they accuse the Chinese of a wide ranging state-directed campaign of cyber espionage.”

President Obama alluded to this concern in the State of the Union speech, without mentioning China or any other nation. “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” he said. “Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air-traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing.” On the same day as his speech he signed a new Executive Order directing the federal departments and agencies to use their existing authorities to provide better cyber security for the nation.

Cyber espionage

Recently, a US Congressional Committee investigated Huawei and ZTE, two major Chinese telecom suppliers. The final report concluded that they posed a threat to national security.

“The United States should view with suspicion the continued penetration of the US telecommunications market by Chinese telecommunications companies.” They further elaborated: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) must block acquisitions, takeovers, or mergers involving Huawei and ZTE given the threat to US national security interests. US government systems, particularly sensitive systems, should not include Huawei or ZTE equipment, including component parts. Similarly, government contractors – particularly those working on contracts for sensitive US programs – should exclude ZTE or Huawei equipment in their systems.”

It should also be noted that Australia banned Huawei’s Australian unit from bidding for their $38-billion broadband network project, citing the need to protect national interests.

ASEAN/Australian focus on cyber security

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Minister Teo Chee Hean announced the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). Its primary role will be to support the government in dealing with cyber security threats and vulnerabilities to ensure early detection and prevention. The Centre will be headed by the Singapore Infocomm Technology Security Authority.

In the government sector, he emphasized that Singapore is a highly networked government which has created a significant vulnerability. He stressed that the inter-dependency of its network means that a successful attack in one sector would have knock-on effects which could effectively paralyze the nation.

In Malaysia, the National Cyber Security Policy seeks to address the risks to the Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) which comprises the networked information systems of ten critical sectors. The overall responsibility for cyber security is CyberSecurity Malaysia under the purview of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

Last January, Australian PM Julia Gillard announced that the combined functions of several agencies – the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Defense Force, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission will constitute the new Cyber Security Centre.

Philippine position

In May 2000, the I Love You virus was let loose, courtesy of two Filipino hackers and charges against them were dropped as there were no laws in the country against writing malware. Two months after, the E-Commerce Law was enacted. However, a stronger law was still needed to address other cybercrimes. Congress initiated several pieces of legislation but without success. More than a decade later, the Cybercrime Prevention Act was passed and signed by the President in September last year. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court issued a TRO amidst the much justified public protest caused by the libel and take down provisions. Back in 2008, the National Cybersecurity Coordination Office was established under the former Commission on Information Communications Technology (CICT). I am also aware that the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced the creation of what is called C4ISTAR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) to focus on cyber security from a military/defense perspective. However, a holistic approach to cybercrime has yet to be formulated.

When President Aquino presented the National Security Policy paper, one paragraph stated:

“Information and communications technologies give tremendous benefits to societies. The government, transportation, industries and economy have become more and more reliant on all components of cyber space. However, the growing cyber space dependence comes with an increased level of exposure and vulnerability to cyber-attacks. These could lead to the paralysis of communication infrastructure, international financial systems, critical government services and defense/military command and control systems.”

President Aquino’s policy statement is timely and appropriate but it must be reinforced by more substance - new tools and authorities are needed to meet the nation’s collective cyber security challenges. We live in an interconnected competitive world which presents both opportunities and challenges. We must always be vigilant of competition among nations in the economic as well as political arena.

Sam Miguel
03-01-2013, 09:43 AM
^^^ You see that up there? That trumps your right to blog, post, react, tweet, update and whatnot.

Because if those types of bad guys win, there will be no more blogging, posting, reacting, tweeting, updating, and most of all, no whatnot.

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 10:45 AM
PNP upgrades anti cybercrime body

By Jamie Elona


8:27 pm | Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) has upgraded its anti-cybercrime body, turning it into one of PNP’s National Operational Support Unit in a bid to further strengthen the agency’s capability to go after offenders on the Internet.

The newly created Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) is an upgraded version of the division that was previously under the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said Wednesday.

“Meaning to say… lalakas ito at magkakaroon ng mas maraming resources. And at the same time, talagang mas mabibigyan ng attention,” Cerbo said.

He said the ACG was created to serve as the primary unit responsible for the implementation of pertinent laws on cybercrimes and anti-cybercrime campaigns of the PNP and the national government.

Among others, the ACG will look into cybercrime and computer-related offenses, as well as cybersex, child pornography, and unsolicited commercial communication.

Cerbo said the creation doesn’t necessarily acknowledge the fact that cybercrime offenses have worsened, saying that the move was more of a preparation for possible circumstances.

“Given the popularity of cyberspace… there are criminal elements even in the cyberspace. So on our part, we have to be prepared sa mga ganitong pagkakataon,” Cerbo said.

The spokesman said the ACG will be composed of experienced personnel led by Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa.

04-02-2013, 10:57 AM
Online retail can lead to tax fraud


By Babe G. Romualdez

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 - 12:00am

Advanced information technology and the Internet have made life very convenient in so many ways, enabling people to conduct bank transactions, pay their bills and shop without having to leave the comfort and convenience of their homes. Over the years, more and more businesses have learned to use technology in generating more sales and increasing their market share, with advertising agencies using online and digital media to target customers, utilizing social networking sites like Facebook where, more often than not, people are enticed with hefty discounts and great sounding promos for products and services just for “liking” an ad.

However, there are still a large number of people who are not sold to the idea of online transactions because of the privacy risks involved because one is normally required to disclose personal and other sensitive information to complete an online purchase or transaction. An interesting article in the New York Times featured a study by a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University that disclosed how people – despite saying they value their privacy – often behave in an inconsistent manner and let their guard down in the face of tempting deals or purchases.

According to Alessandro Acquisti’s research, people don’t always act in their own best interest and can often be manipulated easily by how companies pump people for information. And more often than not, his study suggests, the more innocuous-looking sites can actually sway people into revealing more of their personal data than official looking ones. For instance, the New York Times article illustrates, a person who comes across a discount online retailer promising a very attractive deal starts by setting up an account, providing his email address and disclosing his birth date, age, gender. He then agrees to the company terms of service (more often than not without bothering to read all the minute details) in a distracted manner, not paying close attention to what he is doing.

That these transactions involve trade-offs are clear, Acquisti avers, with online customers giving up data to avail of the offer. But just who gains – or loses – more in such transactions is the big question – with the rewards (discounted items) sometimes not commensurate with the (intangible) risks like possible identity theft. In fact, a report by NBC News revealed that identity theft is indeed on the rise, with people’s social security numbers stolen for the purpose of filing fake income tax returns with the US Internal Revenue Service. An account by a victim disclosed how a thief stole her personal details including her Social Security Number and filed a fake income tax return online – and managed to receive the $5,700 tax refund from the IRS.

With the deadline for filing tax returns just around the corner, the IRS is working double time to counter the growing problem of identity-related tax fraud, expanding its assistance program coast-to-coast and in all 50 states to work with state and local law enforcement authorities to crackdown on crooks who reportedly make more money just sitting in front of their computers than selling cocaine on the streets.

Are manners dead?

That is a pervading question in light of the “snarky rudeness” that young people are displaying online, says a New York Times article, adding that cellphones, Twitter and Facebook may be killing off manners and etiquette the way baby boomers and even generation X members know them. That’s probably why a new generation of etiquette gurus is emerging, making use of social networking sites and the YouTube to make good old-fashioned social graces relevant to today’s generation. These bloggers and manner arbiters are teaching Generation Y protocol on seemingly simple matters like shaking hands, how to conduct oneself at the gym, how to properly order at a drive-in window, or proper behavior at same-sex weddings.

One of the popular “how tos” has to do with “netiquette,” specifically on what is appropriate to post on Facebook, etc. Should one discuss personal health or ask for a loan in public, are just some of the topics that manners gurus offer to people who are “not to the manner born,” so to speak. That etiquette has become a growing concern once again can be gleaned from the number of books that have been published on the topic, including one by Daniel Post Senning, the great-great grandson of the doyen of etiquette Emily Post titled “Emily Post’s Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online.” For many decades, the books and columns of Emily Post (born Emily Price) have been considered the ultimate guide when it comes to manners and etiquette, and it’s certainly fitting that her legacy is being kept alive to this very day.

Early Easter gift from Macy’s

A simple typo error in a product catalog mailed all over the US has enormously cost popular department store chain Macy’s. In a 44-page advertisement sent to customers, Macy’s promised a “Super Buy,” and indeed, that’s what shoppers got when a 14-karat gold necklace priced at $1,500 was advertised with a discounted retail price of just $47. Not surprisingly, the inventory quickly got sold out by Friday – before the store finally got wind of the pricing error and started alerting customers about the mistake.

Apparently, the price should have been $479 dollars but someone missed out on that all-important digit – enabling customers to save up P1,400 while the department store chain had to put up with a loss of $450 for every necklace bought. The store, however, continues to be mum as to who was responsible for the typo error, or how many pieces of jewelry were sold before they were alerted of the costly error. In any case, customers were certainly happy with the “early Easter gift” from the store.

* * *

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 09:52 AM
Cyberespionage campaign vs online gaming firms bared


10:59 pm | Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Online gaming is among the fastest growing digital entertainment in the Internet. The fact that online gaming has millions of active players has brought it within sight of cybercriminals, according to a recent report.

The report by Kaspersky Lab, developer of secure content and threat management solutions, disclosed a massive cyberespionage campaign against certain online gaming companies, including those in the Philippines.

A cybercriminal group calling itself “Winnti” has been actively attacking online video gaming companies since 2009, stealing digital certificates signed by legitimate software vendors and also source code of online game projects, the report said.

The Winnti team is targeting gaming companies located in various parts of the world but has a stronger focus on Southeast Asia. Among the countries that have been affected are the Philippines, India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Belarus, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Peru, and the United States, it said.

It was first detected in 2011, when a malicious Trojan was detected on a large number of end-user computers across the globe and was accidentally installed in the PC of some online gamers, it said.

“Winnti’ was originally thought that the online game publisher from where the piece of malicious software was installed was spying on their gamers. The authors, it seemed, were actually targeting the server of the online gaming provider.

A suspicious program that has been analyzed on the request of an alleged “targeted” online gaming publisher showed that “the Trojan is a DLL library that could function as a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) that could control the victims’ computers without being detected”, the report said.

“The malicious module actually had a valid digital signature that turned out to come from another online gaming company that was issued by Verisign,” it said.

“The digital signature was later revoked upon report of its abuse by the cybercrime group,” it said.

The trail showed compromised digital signatures from legitimate online gaming companies used by the Winnti group, most of which were from South Korea, it said.

These signatures were distributed for use to other hacking groups. Kaspersky Lab listed a number of the companies whose digital certificates were stolen, which include Korean firms ESTsoft Corp. Kog Co., MGAME Corp., Sesisoft, Wemade, and Neowiz. Chinese firms Guangzhou YuanLuo and Fantasy Technology Corp., and Japanese game publishers YNK Japan and Rosso Index KK were also targeted.

LivePlex Corp, a South Korean online gaming publisher has operations in the Philippines.

Apart from industrial cyberespionage, Kaspersky Lab experts also found out other illegal money-making schemes are being used by the Winnti group using their malware campaign. These include:

· Manipulate the accumulation of in-game currency, such as “runes” or “gold” that’s used by players and convert the accumulated virtual money into real money;

· Use the stolen source code from online game servers to search for vulnerabilities inside games to augment and accelerate the manipulation of in-game currency and its accumulation without suspicion;

· Use the stolen source code from servers of popular online games in order to deploy their own pirated servers.

Jimmy Fong, Channel Sales Director for Kasperky Lab in Southeast Asia, said “We encouraging online gamers to exercise caution when using PCs for their online gaming activities. While most gamers use their own devices to play, there are still who use Internet cafes for playing.”

“It is recommended that gamers check if the PCs they are using have the proper security applications installed and updated,” he added.

Fong advised gamers must also be extra careful when using their PCs to conduct online transactions by using legitimate software and having the latest updates to ensure that cybercriminals do not easily infiltrate their PCs for their illicit activities.

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 03:28 PM
Beware of professional high-tech cons

By Michelle Singletary, Apr 24, 2013 02:05 AM EDT

The Washington Post Published: April 24

I received a distressing note from “a friend” named Mark who needed help with his bills after his bag and passport were stolen in Manila.

“I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 3-5 working days to access funds in my account,” read the e-mail. “The bad news is my flight will be leaving very soon but I am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let me leave until I settle the bills. I need your help financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home, you are my last resort and hope.”

Many of you would spot this note for what it is: a scam.

I don’t know Mark. Had the scoundrel’s e-mail not been captured by my spam filter, I might have been tempted to open it because of the subject line — “SAD NEWS!!”

Or, if I weren’t super sensitive to cons and I was lonely, I might respond to another e-mail that said: “It is a thing of surprise for you to receive my message this morning. Though we have never met each other face to face but i decided to contact you after going through your profile and i felt convinced that you will be a good person to trust. I have a problem in which i think that you will be of good help to me but before sharing that problem with you i will like us to know each other very well and i will like us to build trust first.”

The misspellings and poor grammar would warn most people, but such correspondence has worked, with the person, usually operating overseas, successfully soliciting money.

Who falls for such schemes?

Well, lots of people — millions, in fact. According to a Federal Trade Commission survey conducted in late 2011 and early 2012, an estimated 25.6 million American adults, or nearly 11 percent, have been fraud victims.

Where do people get duped the most?

Not surprisingly, the Internet. Specifically, e-mail, social media, Internet auction sites and Internet classified advertising.

“The Internet was the most common way victims first learned about offers that turned out to be fraudulent,” according to the FTC report.

People placed orders using the Internet in almost 40 percent of the fraud cases in 2011, up from 20 percent reported in the agency’s 2005 survey. The most frequent frauds involved weight-loss products, prize promotions, work-at-home programs and falsely billed buyer-club memberships or Internet services.

You may smugly think that you couldn’t be conned, but the FTC found that there are circumstances and personal characteristics that make people more susceptible.

Who are these victims?

● Risk-takers. The FTC says it used two measures to examine the relationship between risk-taking and the likelihood of becoming a fraud victim. The agency looked at the self-reported willingness of survey participants to take risks. The FTC also examined consumers who had engaged in risky purchasing practices such as buying a product after getting an unsolicited e-mail from an unknown company. Those who reported a high willingness for risk-taking were three times as likely to have been victims of fraudulent prize promotions. Those who met the definition of risky purchasing practices were almost four times as likely to have been victims of fake prize promotions.

● Grieving people. Folks who had recently experienced a bad life event — a divorce, death of a family member or close friend, serious injury or illness in their family, or job loss — were much more likely to be victimized. If someone had experienced a major disruption in the previous two years, they were more than 2 1/2 times as likely to have been a fraud victim.

This is why experts recommend that you don’t make major financial decisions too soon after a death of someone close or another calamity. Your judgment could be impaired.

● Debtors. This makes sense. Many of the cons go after people in debt because they want to escape their financial troubles. And their anxiousness is just what the con artists count on. If you’re desperate, you’re more likely to want a quick solution.

In fact, “victimization rates were lower among those who self-reported themselves as more patient,” the report said.

The FTC says its examinations of how people are deceived helps the agency’s enforcement and education efforts. Check out the FTC’s “10 Ways to Avoid Fraud” at www.ftc.gov or call 877-382-4357 to order it by mail. But the agency can only do so much. So just be careful out there.

Sam Miguel
05-24-2013, 09:49 AM
DOJ working to drop online libel from cyber law

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 24, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for amendments to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, including dropping the provision on online libel, and is working on an “enhanced” version of the controversial law ahead of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on its legality.

“We will be proposing certain improvements on the Cybercrime Prevention Act, but of course we need to wait for the action of the SC on the pending petition,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters at the opening of the 3rd Regional Cybercrime Conference in Manila yesterday. “Whatever will happen in the case in SC, we are contemplating on introducing or proposing to Congress certain enhancements,” she said. Among the proposed amendments is the removal of the provision on online libel, Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, head of the DOJ cybercrime office, said. Sy said the DOJ would also take out the provisions on child pornography and cybersquatting “because these are punishable under other laws already.”

He added that the provision that sets penalties higher than those provided under the Revised Penal Code should also be taken out. “There is no perfect law, so we continue to repeat, reiterate until we get it right,” he said.

De Lima said the DOJ would also consider clarifying the “take down” clause in the implementing rules and regulations, which empowers the department to close down a website or intercept data.

She admitted the use of the term “take down” was “shocking.”

She said the DOJ would submit its proposed amendments when the incoming 16th regular session of Congress convenes.

The SC issued a 120-day temporary restraining order stopping the implementation of the law in October last year and extended the TRO indefinitely when it lapsed last February.

At least 15 groups questioned the constitutionality of RA 10175 before the high court.

They are UP law professor Harry Roque Jr., National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, lawyer Jose Jesus Disini of the Internet and society program of UP College of Law, a group of lawyers led by Paul Cornelius Castillo, National Press Club of the Philippines, an officer of the Philippine Bar Association, businessman Louis Biraogo, a group of journalists belonging to Alab ng Mamahayag, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, a group of lawmakers, members of academe and students led by Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Ateneo Human Rights Center, a group of bloggers led by Anthony Ian Cruz and Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño.

In his oral argument last January, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza conceded that Section 19 of the law, which authorizes the DOJ to block or restrict access to computer data without a court warrant, was unconstitutional.

Sam Miguel
07-04-2013, 10:15 AM
Santiago files bill to repeal cybercrime law

By Maila Ager


2:33 pm | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that if passed into law would repeal the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Santiago said Senate Bill No. 53, known as the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF), would protect the rights and freedoms of Filipinos in cyberspace, while defining and penalizing cybercrimes.

“While it is important to crackdown on criminal activities on the Internet, protecting constitutional rights like free expression, privacy, and due process should hold a higher place in crafting laws,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

Santiago said the MCPIF upholds the right to free speech of Filipinos on cyberspace “unlike the much-criticized Cybercrime Prevention Act.”

“The MCPIF treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act. It is not overbroad or vague in its provisions on libel, unlike the cybercrime law,” she explained.

If passed into law, Santiago said, the bill would repeal the Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

“R.A. 10175 confines the Philippines to 20th century capabilities in this 21st century information society. Clearly, laws that have an impact on cyberspace must address the realities of the present and the challenges of the future,” she said.

The proposed MCPIF, if passed, Santiago said, would also be the first law to be created through “crowdsourcing.”

Crowdsourcing is an online process of getting work done by tapping people on the Internet who volunteer their talent and skills.

The senator said a group of concerned netizens composed of software designers, IT specialists, academics, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, human rights advocates approached her office with a draft of the MCPIF.

The group formulated the MCPIF through discussions in an open Facebook group, email, Google Hangout teleconferences, and social media channels like Twitter.

“I call on all our young people to voice their support for this bill through social media. You are our new opinion-leaders. After the RH Bill, we saw how powerful social media can be in advancing our causes,” Santiago said.

Sam Miguel
07-04-2013, 10:16 AM
Binay files bill vs ‘electronic violence’ on women, children

By Maila Ager


6:39 pm | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay has filed a bill that would regulate the “exploitative and irresponsible” use of social media by the victim’s relatives, former spouse or partner or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.

Binay said the bill on the Electronic Violence against Women (E-VAW) she filed Monday sought to amend and expand the provisions of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Act of 2004.

“Although the VAWC Law already protects women and children against physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuses, it does not include other forms of digital harassment like cyberbullying,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

Binay said that most of the cases of online bullying, cyberstalking and other forms of digital harassment were being perpetrated by people close to the victims.

“Being bullied or harassed by a known perpetrator, or someone close to you, has a serious emotional and psychological impact than being hassled by a stranger. It’s more painful for the victims if they know the perpetrators,” she said.

Since the enactment of RA 9262, Binay said, women and their children have been provided with additional alternatives and protection against abusive conduct and violence.

But the law, she said, has not taken into consideration the prevalent and widespread reach of the Internet and communication technology.”

Binay, who has been ridiculed on Internet during the campaign, immediately clarified that her proposed measure had nothing to do with her own experience.

“This bill is not about what I have experienced during the campaign. Those who commit the crime should have a personal relationship with the victim. That’s why it’s specified: an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband . . . as long as there’s a personal relationship,” she said in an interview with Senate reporters.

“Electronic violence” is defined in the bill as any act involving the exploitation of data that “can cause or is likely to cause mental, emotional and psychological distress or suffering to the victim.”

This can involve the unauthorized recording, reproduction or distribution of videos showing the victim’s private parts; uploading or sharing any form of media with sensitive and indecent content without the victim’s consent; harassment through text messaging, electronic or any other multimedia means; cyberstalking, including the hacking of personal accounts on social networking sites and the use of location trackers on cellular devices and the unauthorized use of the victim’s identity (pictures, video, voice, name) for distribution that can harm the victim’s reputation.

Under the bill, any act causing electronic violence against a woman and her child would be punishable by incarceration from six months to six years, while threats causing electronic violence could be punished by incarceration from a month to six months.

“Offenders can be penalized up to P300,000 but not more than P500,000 depending on the gravity of distress caused to the victim,” she said.

The bill also provides a protection order to prevent further harm and distress to any woman and her child.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2013, 08:53 AM
US ‘deeply concerned’ by Singapore Internet rules

Agence France-Presse

9:36 am | Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

WASHINGTON—The United States said Monday it was “deeply concerned” by what it called a “new restrictive” law in Singapore for licensing online news websites.

“We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

“We are concerned… to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.”

The surprise regulations came into force on June 1 requiring news websites—including one operated by US-based Yahoo!—to obtain licenses from the city-state’s official media regulator.

Last month, Singaporean bloggers blacked out their homepages for 24 hours to protest the measure, which they say will muzzle freedom of expression.

The new rules stipulate that websites with at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month and publish at least one local news article per week over a period of two months must obtain an annual license.

Singapore’s media regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA), and government leaders had sought to allay fears the rules were aimed at the feisty blogging community, pointing out that blogs were not considered news portals.

But websites granted a license will have to remove “prohibited content” such as articles that undermine “racial or religious harmony” within 24 hours of being notified by the authority.

The move has caused an uproar in the online community, which largely sees it as a measure to muzzle freedom of speech.

Bloggers participating in the Internet blackout insisted the law’s broad reach was indicative of the government’s intentions to require blogs to seek licensing in the future as well.

Sam Miguel
11-06-2013, 09:48 AM
Masked protesters vow more I-attacks

By Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:17 am | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

About 100 protesters belonging to the hackers’ group Anonymous Philippines that claimed responsibility for attacks on 38 government websites marched on the Batasang Pambansa on Tuesday and vowed to continue digital assaults to press demands for the abolition of all pork barrel.

A block away from the House of Representatives building, police armed with truncheons and shields stopped the protesters wearing masks depicting Guy Fawkes, a member of a gang that famously attempted to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605 and was killed in the process.

The group claims to be an affiliate of the global activist Anonymous that has defaced government websites in several countries. It has taken the mask as its symbol.

“The corrupt fear us. The honest support us. The heroic join us,” read the signs the protesters carried.

“We are here today to press for a new system of government,” said one of the leaders, mostly dressed in black. “We are everyone and anyone. We will not go away and we will continue with our activities.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she had ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to track down those responsible for defacing the government websites, including that of the Ombudsman’s.

She said that the activity had disrupted public service.

“Even if we don’t have the Cybercrime Prevention Law yet because of the temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court, there is an existing law, the E-Commerce Act,” De Lima said. The law imposes a minimum fine of P100,000 and imprisonment from six months to three years, she said.

Initially, the marchers howled in protest when Supt. Eleazar Matta, head of the Batasan police station, told them that they could only stay at the freedom park for security reasons and to prevent traffic congestion. Matta said without a permit, the demonstration could not be allowed.

“But politicians stealing, is that allowed?” asked one, a question that was quickly seconded by the other protesters.

One masked man, who identified himself only as Naked Znake, said the group was focused on denouncing the pork barrel, pushing for the freedom of information bill and the scrapping of the cybercrime law.

More protests could come from the group if there would be no changes in the system, he said. He contended that government leaders were trying to cover up the issues and using the media to manipulate public opinion. He said the group was protesting the system that had allowed anomalies to take place.

According to him, Anonymous Philippines was behind the hacking of government websites. But he added that the group would not pinpoint the individuals involved. Anybody can be part of Anonymous as long as they seek the truth, he said.

‘Don’t turn a blind eye’

“As much as possible, you should be open to the truth, you do not turn a blind eye to what’s happening. You’re not just being idle and not doing what is right. If you allow things to continue as they are, what will happen to the next generation?” he said.

Asked why they chose to wear masks, he said this was to signify that the members of Anonymous were united and were fighting for the same cause.

After several hours, the protesters dispersed. Congress is on a three-week recess, until Nov. 18.

Since allegations about a P10-billion racket involving the diversion to kickbacks of allocations under the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were made in July, protests have been held against the pork barrel. The biggest gathering was held at Rizal Park on Aug. 26, drawing around 80,000 to 100,000 in what was billed as the Million People March.

Protests have expanded and have also targeted the little-known Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The Department of Budget and Management has admitted that the program was the source of the additional pork of P50 million given to each of the 20 senators who voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona last year.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on eight petitions to declare the DAP unconstitutional.

In a rare prime-time TV address last Wednesday, President Aquino defended the DAP, saying the issue was corruption and declaring that he was “not a thief.”

The militant groups Anakbayan and Youth Act Now said in a statement that the President’s planned public dialogues to discuss the pork barrel issue was a “cheap PR stunt.” It would be better if he would hold a public debate to be televised live, they said.—With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

Sam Miguel
11-06-2013, 09:50 AM
^^^ And who the f--- elected you sons of bitches that you presume to speak for us? What if what you are doing is already causing detriment to the public, i.e. those transacting with the government online? This is precisely why vigilantes suck. They are accountable to no one yet ask every one to trust them.

Sam Miguel
11-15-2013, 09:37 AM
‘Hacktivist’ tagged in defacing gov’t websites during DAP protests falls

By Tetch Torres-Tupas, Nancy Carvajal

INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:20 am | Thursday, November 14th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested a suspected member of a hacktivist group who defaced government websites recently, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Thursday.

The suspect was identified as information technology student Rodel Plasabas alias “Reaper,” “Anonymosbutuan,” “Anon Reaper” of Butuan City. He was arrested by NBI operatives Wednesday night in Butuan City after days of surveillance.

Plasabas is also suspected to be a leader of Anonymous Philippines.

Armed with a search warrant, the agents collared Plasabas for violation of RA 8792 (E Commerce Law).

“He was on line when the search warrant was issued. Initial check on his current chats indicated discussions on website hacks,” De Lima said.

The suspect will be taken for inquest before the Butuan City Prosecutors’ Office.

Early this month, 38 government websites were hacked in protest of the Disbursement Acceleration Program of the Aquino administration.

Anonymous is a loose international organization of political activist hackers.

Sam Miguel
11-15-2013, 09:38 AM
^^^ Give him to the MPD. He'll sing like Caruso and Lanza combined for these guys.

11-20-2013, 07:08 AM
Points to consider in securing Philippine cyberspace

By Francis Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:37 am | Monday, November 18th, 2013

Cyber-attacks on websites managed by the Philippine government have been persistent and increasingly sophisticated.

During the past year, Anonymous Philippines—a movement that believes the social system can change through the aggressive use of information technology—has attacked numerous government websites, including those of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the Philippine National Police, and most recently, the Office of the Ombudsman.

While scholars, government officials and technical experts agree that the Philippines should have a national strategy to address cyber-attacks, the scope and content of this strategy remains elusive.

Cyber-attacks will not stop

More people may decide to engage in cyber-attacks because of the low barriers to entry, anonymity and presence of others involved in similar activities.

Performing various operations in cyberspace is not difficult because the resources and knowledge required to exploit and disrupt infrastructure are modest compared to the requirements of exploiting other domains of conflict such as land, sea, air and even space.

Any individual with sufficient technical knowledge and has access to information communication technologies can execute cyber-attacks.

Anonymity is another reason why cyber-attacks will not stop. Since there is no absolute way of identifying the perpetrators, individuals will use cyberspace to carry out their illegal activities. Also, the accessibility of cyberspace allows all types of actors—individuals, nongovernment organizations, corporations, nation-states—to operate and provide support, which makes it very complicated for authorities to detect.

The military must not take the lead in cyber defense

The broad mandate of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is to protect the state and the people from external threats. Since it is not possible for authorities to accurately confirm that external aggressors or nation-states are behind the cyber-attacks, the military should just play a supporting role and work with other government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation in addressing cyber-attacks.

An example of the military’s necessary involvement in cyber defense was during the distributed denial of service attacks against Estonia in 2007. Another is the employment of a “Stuxnet” (a sophisticated computer program designed to penetrate and establish control over remote systems) against an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010.

Expecting the military to take the lead in cyber defense may mean expanding their mandate and providing them with more resources. This may detract the AFP from their main focus of developing modest territorial defense capabilities for land, sea and air domains.

Even with an effective cyber security strategy, authorities cannot expect to prevent every cyber-attack from happening. An effective strategy can, however, reduce the projected disastrous impact of an attack and possibly decrease the scope and duration of any exploitation or disruption caused by an initial attack.

Security strategies are not definitive

Mitigation measures involve technical expertise, developing a culture of cyber security, and implementing initiatives to ensure resilience.

There are several abundant sources of technical expertise in the Philippines in addition to experts in government. There are scholars in leading universities whose research focuses on fields like security engineering and cryptography. There are also professionals engaged in nongovernment organizations, such as the Information Systems Security Society of the Philippines, Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and Philippines Emergency Computer Response Team.

Experts in information technology companies like Symantec, McAfee and IBM, who constantly develop solutions to secure data and infrastructures globally, may be tapped.

Developing a culture of cyber security includes promoting awareness and standards in private and public institutions through education and national information campaigns.

It is critical for the public to understand how to spot potential cyber threats as well as the damage caused by actual cyber-attacks. More importantly, people must be made aware of the rationale and scope of Republic Act No. 10175 and other laws that protect Philippine cyberspace.

Ensuring resilience requires institutions to have the agility to prevent, detect and respond rapidly and effectively, not just to cyber-attacks, but also to the consequences.

This means developing multidisciplinary teams from different sectors of the country to develop and test procedures and plans that will eventually contribute to a more comprehensive cyber security strategy.

This team should be able to respond quickly to an incident by briefing stakeholders regarding the situation, and communicating with individuals and organizations that might have been compromised.

Cyber-attacks have limited impact

Although there have been numerous types of cyber-attacks executed in cyberspace, none of these attacks have caused the same damage as attacks against land, sea and air targets. Therefore, cyber-attacks have a limited impact on nation-states because the attacks rely on an electromagnetic spectrum, require man-made technology to function, and do not involve lethal action and physical violence.

Cyberspace is dependent on preexisting electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore cyber-attacks will not be successful if the spectrum is controlled or access to critical networks is blocked by accountable government units.

Another related point is that cyber-attacks require man-made technology to be deployed. The hardware and software required by people who carry out cyber-attacks are not top secret and are readily available in computer stores. Therefore, developing measures and strategies to counter the attacks will not be impossible.

A third point is that cyber-attacks have limited impact because they do not involve lethal action or physical violence.

There have been several books, articles, and reports from think tanks that explain how the escalation of cyber-attacks may eventually lead to a “cyber war.” However, these claims seem to be exaggerated.

Cyber security expert Thomas Rid of King’s College London makes a more sensible claim when he argues that “all politically motivated cyber-attacks are merely sophisticated versions of three activities that are as old as warfare itself—sabotage, espionage and subversion.”

War by definition always involves lethal action and physical violence; therefore the cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008 may not be considered examples of cyber-war. Cyber-attacks can exploit databases, disrupt networks and, to a certain extent, damage infrastructure. But these are still limited compared to the impact and destruction caused by attacks from land, sea and air.

(The author is a postgraduate research student pursuing an MRes and PhD in International Relations at the Department of Politics and International Relations of University of Reading, United Kingdom. He obtained his MA in Intelligence and Security Studies from Brunel University in London in 2009 and is an assistant professor (on leave) at the International Studies Department of De La Salle University Manila.)

Sam Miguel
01-20-2014, 09:43 AM
A social evil

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:15 pm | Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Online child pornography in the Philippines is a perverse twist on globalization: Consumption patterns in the developed world (say, in the United Kingdom or Australia) drive demand for live online “shows,” recorded video or still photographs featuring the sexual abuse of children; to supply the demand, a virtual cottage industry of cybersex “studios” now do business in Angeles, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Metro Manila, among other fleshpots. Often, the Philippine National Police says, it’s the parents of the children themselves who serve as the middlemen in the supply chain.

The absolute evil of child pornography also demonstrates the limitations of the capitalist critique of globalization; its language cannot adequately express a society’s horror at the evil it sees. Consumption patterns, a drive in demand, supply chain: These fail to explain, or plumb the depths, of the outrage we feel reading the last sentence of the first paragraph, about parents pimping their own children, or learning that as many as 100,000 Filipino children may have been sexually exploited for online child pornography in the last several years.

“Fathers and mothers would bring their children here to show, and would get paid by the owner of the house,” a police officer in Cebu said. Fr. Shay Cullen, who has spent a lifetime fighting sexual exploitation in Olongapo City, told the BBC the same thing: “There’s a huge growing demand and there’s a growing supply.”

The shape of that illicit and immoral market became more visible when the United Kingdom’s so-called Operation Endeavor, an international inquiry involving some 12 countries, led to the arrest of 17 Britons in various parts of the world, and the rescue of 15 children between six and 15 years old in Angeles City. A parallel effort by the Australian Federal Police led to the arrest of three Australians.

“Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed Internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base [have] led to organized crime groups exploiting children for financial gain,” the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency reported.

Now the PNP, which cooperated in the international investigation, seems determined to make up for lost time. Senior Supt. Gilbert Sosa, head of the PNP’s anticybercrime unit, said online pornography was now the No. 1 crime in the Philippines. “The data speaks for itself. It is now the No. 1 crime in our country. We have to act on this.”

We do not know whether this is in fact the case. There is no hard data on how much the illegal business is worth, on how widespread it is (relative to, say, car theft or cell phone theft) and whether it creates more victims than, say, the thriving trade in illegal drugs. But the country certainly has to act on it; the anecdotal evidence revealed thus far about online child pornography is deeply worrying.

In the first place, there are tens of thousands of victims (children forced to perform for the cameras) who need to be rescued, helped and healed.

Secondly, there are the hundreds of videos and thousands of photos that must be tracked down and completely deleted or, failing that, tagged in such a way that viewers can be identified and then ultimately charged in court.

Not least, there is the real evil of conscience-less parents who, provoked either by deep poverty or sheer greed, volunteer their children to the “studios,” or use the cameras themselves to record them.

Surely, there must be a special punishment reserved in hell for the parents who pimp their own very young children; Christians are reminded of Christ’s own words of warning (repeated almost verbatim in the three synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke), that whoever causes “the little ones” to sin, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

The parents or guardians who put their children or wards in harm’s way are a threat to the national community: By raising confused and traumatized citizens, by sacrificing morality for pecuniary interest, by subverting the law and public order, they tear at the very social fabric.

The mayors and the local police in the areas identified as hubs for online child pornography have their work cut out for them. One of their most important tasks is to identify the parent-pimps, and bring them to justice.

Sam Miguel
01-20-2014, 09:44 AM
Poe: Child porn underscores importance of cybercrime law

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:58 am | Monday, January 20th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The operation of a cyberpornography ring in the country has underlined the urgency of enforcing the cybercrime law, Sen. Grace Poe said on Sunday.

For the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to be declared constitutional and enforced once and for all, its controversial provision on libel should be scrapped, Poe said.

“We passed it in 2012, but’s now it’s pending before the court because of the libel provision. That’s understandable, but now we really need it because cyberpornography is becoming widespread,” she said.

If it’s necessary for the controversial provision to be scrapped just so the law could be enforced, so be it, she added.

The British police have begun working with their American and Australian counterparts to break up a pedophile ring that had been streaming live scenes of child abuse.

Investigations of the ring’s operations in 12 countries by the National Crime Agency have led to the rescue of 15 children, aged 6 to 15, in a raid in Angeles City and arrest of parents. So far, some 733 suspects have been arrested around the world.

The investigation was prompted by the seizure of the computer of registered sex offender Timothy Ford, who was imprisoned for paying to view live sex abuse in Britain.

In the Philippines, livestreaming of live sex abuse has gone unchecked by the authorities.

The cybercrime law, or Republic Act No. 10175, enacted by President Aquino in September 2012, was challenged before the high tribunal before it took effect the following month.

Petitions, including one by administration Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, sought to nullify the provisions imposing a higher penalty on libel than those spelled out in the Revised Penal Code.

In the cybercrime law, the government could track the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a pornography ring livestreaming child abuse, said Poe, who chairs the committees on public information and public order.

Otherwise, the government needs the cooperation of telecommunication companies to track down the operations of syndicates operating on the Internet, she said.

“If our laws are not strong, we can’t force them to cooperate with our policemen. The laws should catch up with modern technology,” she said.

The law punishes content-related offenses, such as cybersex, child porn, libel and unsolicited commercial communication.

Individuals found guilty of cybersex face an imprisonment of prision mayor (6 years and one day to 12 years) or a fine of at least P200,000 but not exceeding P1 million. Those guilty of child pornography via computer face a penalty one degree higher than that provided by the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.

Meanwhile, Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has blamed the controversial reproductive health (RH) law for the widespread patronage of pornography in the country.—With a report from Tina G. Santos

Sam Miguel
02-19-2014, 09:08 AM
SC: Online libel law legal

Only authors of libelous content face penalties

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:15 am | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of a provision in the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 penalizing online libel amid fears it infringed on Internet freedom.

Likewise, the high court endorsed a provision that seeks to penalize authors of libelous online content but not those receiving and reacting to it.

The court, however, struck down a section in the law that allows the Department of Justice (DOJ) to block access to online content.

After more than a year, the high tribunal finally ruled on the constitutionality of certain provisions in the cybercrime law that were raised by 15 petitioners.

The implementation of Republic Act No. 10175, which President Aquino signed into law in September 2012 to fight crimes committed on the Internet, like cybersex and child pornography, had been suspended for over a year.

The law can now be implemented without the provisions that were struck down.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who was at the high court to attend the last oral arguments on the Disbursement Acceleration Program, refused to comment on the ruling until he has read it.

At a media briefing, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the tribunal had “partially granted” the relief sought by the petitioners.

Of the 19 questioned provisions, the court declared four unconstitutional: Sections 4(c)(3), which penalizes the posting of unsolicited commercial communications (or spam); Section 12, which authorizes the collection or recording of traffic data in real time; Section 19, which authorizes the DOJ to restrict or block access to suspected computer data; and Section 7 “as far as it authorizes the prosecution of an offender under online libel and libel under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and also where it pertains to child pornography for being in violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy.”

The court noted that “online libel is admittedly not a new crime but one already punished under Article 353 (which defines libel in the RPC); Section 4(c)(4) (or online libel) merely establishes the use of a computer as another means of publication. For this reason, charging the offender under both laws would be a violation of the guarantee against double jeopardy under Article III Section 27 of the 1987 Constitution,” said the statement released to the media.

Te said the court upheld the constitutionality of online libel as a cyberoffense. It said that online libel was “not unconstitutional with respect to the original author of the post but unconstitutional only when it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the petitioners, said they would challenge the ruling.

“No one should go to prison just for expressing oneself, especially on the Internet, where people express their frustration with government,” he said.

“Under cybercrime law, tweets, likes, shares, comments crimes. Everyone under surveillance,” activist Vencer Crisostomo said in a tweet.

Also, the court qualified that Section 5 of the law, which penalizes anyone who aids or abets the commission of cybercrimes and anyone who attempts to commit cybercrimes was “not unconstitutional” in connection with the commission of the following: illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, cybersquatting, computer-related fraud and identity theft and cybersex.

But this was deemed unconstitutional “only in relation to offenses punished by child pornography and unsolicited commercial communications and online libel.”—With a report from AFP

Sam Miguel
02-19-2014, 09:12 AM
SC: Online libel law legal

Only authors of libelous content face penalties

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:15 am | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

“No one should go to prison just for expressing oneself, especially on the Internet, where people express their frustration with government,” he said.

“Under cybercrime law, tweets, likes, shares, comments crimes. Everyone under surveillance,” activist Vencer Crisostomo said in a tweet.


What is it with the Pinkos?

It was already clarified that sharing, liking, forwarding and other reactions to distinct postings online ARE NOT INCLUDED AS LIBELOUS UNDER THIS LAW.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2014, 09:13 AM
In the Know: The cybercrime law

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:31 am | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, was signed into law by President Aquino on Sept. 12, 2012.

Its original goal was to penalize acts like cybersex, child pornography, identity theft and unsolicited electronic communication in the country.

However, a provision expanding the scope of libel law to cover Internet posts was opposed by various groups, which asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a status quo ante order.

The cybercrime law could see Internet users sentenced to up to 12 years in prison for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter.

Online libel was not part of the original bill proposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) but was one of the amendments inserted by the Senate as proposed by Sen. Vicente Sotto III.

On Oct. 9, 2012, six days after the law took effect, the Supreme Court issued a four-month injunction while it scrutinized the law for possible violations of constitutional provisions on freedom of expression. On Feb. 6 last year, the high court extended the TRO indefinitely.

RA 10175 punishes content-related offenses such as cybersex, child pornography and libel which may be committed through a computer system. It also penalizes unsolicited commercial communication or content that advertises or sells products or services.

But there are exemptions relating to the sending of unsolicited material: It is not a crime if there is prior consent from the recipient, the communication is an announcement from the sender to users, and if there is an easy, reliable way for the recipient to reject it, among others.

Individuals found guilty of cybersex face a jail term of prision mayor (6 years and one day to 12 years) or a fine of at least P200,000 but not exceeding P1 million.

Child pornography via computer carries a penalty one degree higher than that provided by RA 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009. Under RA 9775, those who produce, disseminate or publish child pornography will be fined from P50,000 to P5 million, and slapped a maximum jail term of reclusion perpetua, or 20 to 40 years.

Persons found guilty of unsolicited communication face arresto mayor (imprisonment for 1 month and 1 day to 6 months) or a fine of at least P50,000 but not more than P250,000, or both.

The law also penalizes offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and system, such as illegal access, illegal interference, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, and cybersquatting.

It defines cybersquatting as the acquisition of a domain name on the Internet in bad faith or with the intent to profit, mislead, destroy one’s reputation or deprive others from registering the same domain name. Also covered by the law are computer-related forgery, fraud and identity theft.

As many as 87 percent of Filipino Internet users were identified as victims of crimes and malicious activities committed online, according to a November 2012 primer released by the DOJ, which quoted a 2010 report of the security software firm Symantec.

These included being victimized in activities such as malware (virus and Trojan) invasion, online or phishing scams and sexual predation.

From 2003 to 2012, the Anti-Transnational Crime Division of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police looked into 2,778 referred cases of computer crimes from government agencies and private individuals nationwide.—Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
02-19-2014, 09:20 AM
Cybercrime law foes unhappy over SC ruling

... Akbayan legislator seeks to decriminalize libel, prevent ‘cyber-authoritarianism’

By Inquirer Staff

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:00 am | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—It was described as a step backward that can only end in “cyberauthoritarianism.”

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday supporting the imposition of penalties for online libel in the new cybercrime law.

“This is most unfortunate. The Supreme Court has just legislated a massive restriction on the freedom of speech. The justices are light years behind the practitioners of the social media. They simply do not understand how Internet exchange quickly separates truth from falsehood, how the Internet has a wonderful capacity for self-policing,” Bello said in a text message.

“The justices who voted for retaining the libel provisions obviously have not graduated to the digital age. More worrisome: Their move constitutes one giant step toward state policing of the Internet. It is incumbent on us all to resist such a regressive move that can only end in cyberauthoritarianism,” Bello said.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said that the ruling would have “chilling effect” on netizens who value their freedom to express their views on social media.

“From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and other social media, the decision will silence the netizens whose last recourse to evade culpability is probably to declare that their accounts had been hacked,” Ridon said.

“The fight against e-martial law is far from over. We call on everyone to up the ante and once again show our collective dissent against this repressive law,” Ridon said.

“While the high court reportedly aimed to strike a balance between the protection of civil liberties and government control, we still believe that the law is potent enough to impede our freedom of expression,” he added.

“We respect the decision of the Supreme Court but there is still the need to pass the amendments as regards the removal of libel from the said law,” Sen. Francis Escudero told reporters.

“I already filed the bill for the decriminalization of libel from the Revised Penal Code. That is only being consistent with our position on libel,” he said.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said: “We will await the full decision of the Supreme Court to be able to understand its implications on public policy. We hope that this decision will strengthen government’s position in fighting cybercrime and upholding the people’s welfare.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the decision was “timely” as the government needed it to deal with the growing number of cybercrime cases.

“In the intervening period when the (law was suspended), cybercrime in its many forms was continuing and even escalating,” she said. “A clear legal framework is necessary to protect citizens and balance the state’s duties.”

Bayan Rep. Neri Colmenares, who was among those who challenged the law, said they might appeal.

“The government should not be the prosecutor of stained reputations,” Colmenares said, branding it a “draconian law.”

“No one should go to prison just for expressing oneself, especially on the Internet, where people express their frustration with government,” he said.

Lawyer Harry Roque, one of those who petitioned against the law, hailed the decision striking down the powers to take down websites and monitor Internet traffic.

“This is indeed a major victory for privacy and the right of the people to be secure in their communications,” he said in a statement.

But he said the fight to nullify the provisions on criminal libel would continue.

Social media users expressed anger at the upholding of the libel provisions.

“Under cybercrime law, tweets, likes, shares, comments crimes. Everyone under surveillance,” said activist leader Vencer Crisostomo in a tweet.—With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan, Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora, Christine O. Avendaño and AFP

Sam Miguel
02-20-2014, 09:49 AM
A continuing threat

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:22 am | Thursday, February 20th, 2014

More than a year after oral arguments, the Supreme Court has voted to uphold almost all of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Only four of 19 assailed provisions were declared unconstitutional. This means that this legal sword of Damocles we feel hovering above our heads has been pared down, made smaller—but it remains poised in midair, a continuing threat to the fundamental freedoms of speech and expression.

It doesn’t matter, as President Aquino said the day after the ruling came down, that the new law was not meant to curtail these basic freedoms. Intention is one thing; the use of the law to harass, intimidate, or persecute those on the wrong side of the political or legal or popular fence is entirely another.

We know this from painful experience; libel in the Philippines remains a criminal offense (unlike in most other countries), and it has been used and continues to be used, not so much to convict journalists, as to impede, or even to influence, their journalism.

To be sure, the Court’s decision to strike down some of the onerous provisions was good news. We welcome, for instance, the ruling on the infamous takedown clause, or Section 19, which would have allowed the Department of Justice to “restrict or block access” to databases or websites without need for a court order. Even Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza agreed that the clause, which gave the executive branch a sort of veto on the fundamental right of free speech, was “constitutionally impermissible”; it would have been strange for the Court to preserve a provision that the chief government lawyer himself did not attempt to defend.

Jardeleza had also expressed reservations about another controversial provision, saying Section 12, which allows real-time collection of computer traffic data, should be amended to specify the need for prior court authorization. In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, however, the possibility of grave abuse of real-time data collection by a sprawling or unscrupulous government has loomed large over this provision. The Court’s finding of Section 12 as unconstitutional is thus doubly welcome.

But the law’s hurriedly inserted provision on online libel has been preserved. On Sept. 20, 2012, in a front-page editorial, we had noted thus: The Cybercrime Law “takes the dangerously outmoded provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code—and dumps them online.”

To be sure, the Court has now limited the scope of the dumping. According to Court spokesperson Ted Te, the justices ruled that online libel was “not unconstitutional with respect to the original author of the post but unconstitutional only when it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it.” In other words, only the original story or post carries a legal liability.

This is, again, a welcome step. Our Sept. 20 editorial, “A blow against free speech” (the first of many editorials we have written on the Cybercrime Law), we posed four hypothetical questions; the first three were illustrations of the social-media dilemma many Filipinos faced under the new law: Would forwarding a possibly libelous article by e-mail, or tweeting the link to someone else’s offensive video, or “liking” a problematic post on Facebook, be considered online libel, too? We are pleased that the Court has categorically said no to all of the above.

But the Court has not only upheld the extension of libel laws to the online space; it has also upheld the new law’s raising of the penalty by one degree. This sets the campaign for the decriminalization of libel at least two steps back.

In that first editorial, we attempted to pinpoint those who we thought were ultimately responsible for the Cybercrime Law: “The burden of responsibility—and it is a heavy one, with historical consequences—remains with the legislators who voted for the new law, and with the President who enacted it.” To that cautionary list, and while mindful of the mitigating aspects of the ruling that came down the other day, we can add the justices of the Supreme Court.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2014, 10:05 AM
Calling Tito Sotto an idiot is no cybercrime

By Oscar Franklin Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:20 am | Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The decision of the Supreme Court upholding much of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, including the online libel provision inserted by a now haughty Sen. Tito Sotto, has provoked countless panicked, confused responses. A spontaneous Twitter campaign tried to make the hashtag #NonLibelousTweet trend, a protest by sarcasm and insincere praise. Prominent bloggers floated methods to sanitize criticism, from anonymous accounts to secret codes. The embarrassing question is why we did not protest simply by calling Sotto an idiot.

It is a disgraceful indictment that we have forgotten that libel is but an exception to the fundamental rule that is free speech. We have likewise forgotten that the most basic reason for free speech is to voice honest criticism of officials, even in ways vulgar, unkind, or even untrue. In the classic words of Dean and Justice George Malcolm: “Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts.”

This revered formulation means that calling Sotto an idiot for his damnable insertion cannot be libel absent “actual malice,” which sincere disagreement with a law cannot be. This is a hallowed constitutional principle that not even a thousand Cybercrime Acts can erode.

Unfortunately, there is a fair legal reason for letting Sotto’s insertion stand. The Cybercrime Act merely refers to the circa 1930 Revised Penal Code’s definition of libel. Prof. Harry Roque made an admirable argument that criminalizing libel violates international standards that emerged after 1930. However, as Justice Marvic Leonen countered during the arguments, the justices may fairly reject that these standards bind us. What punishment to impose on libel is thus not a legal issue. Senators Sonny Angara and Chiz Escudero are right to push for a law decriminalizing libel in response to the decision.

Yes, online libel has been a crime since 1930. A criminal libel case involving teenage online rants such as “I super frikin wanted to kill her and make her the frikin next assuming queen!” was filed before the Cybercrime Act and reached our Court of Appeals in 2012 (“DOJ punishes Facebook felonies,” Opinion, 2/8/2013). The arrest of antimining activist Esperlita “Perling” Garcia over a Facebook post in 2012 was also under the real-world Penal Code.

But when Sotto crudely imported the 1930 law into the Cybercrime Act, he also imported longstanding libel protections. The most important is the “public figure” doctrine, where fair discussion of a public figure is not libel again absent actual malice. A public figure is someone the public will naturally discuss because of his celebrity, his thrusting himself into the limelight or his becoming intertwined “in an issue of public interest.” Last year, lawyer Lorna Kapunan filed a libel case against Internet reporter Natashya Gutierrez for writing about Jeane Napoles’ P80-million Los Angeles condo, allegedly because of envy from high school. Gutierrez countered that she wrote this after the Napoleses became public figures following the Inquirer’s pork barrel exposé, and Kapunan failed to argue actual malice. Also in 2013, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio emphasized public figure doctrine in the Fortun decision that refused to punish Inquirer.net and other websites that reported a confidential disbarment case against Ampatuan lawyer Sigfrid Fortun. Moreover, the cybercrime decision itself clarified that online libel will generally be against the original author only and not those who react. This protects likes, shares and retweets (which are vague in terms of the intent required to establish libel anyway) and generally how messages can casually be resent on the Internet.

The media bear some blame for how the issues were miscommunicated, down to how many still think online libel was not a crime before the Cybercrime Act. This focus on libel meant the law’s more technical, more insidious provisions escaped public attention. Outraged citizens must appreciate how the decision prohibits without a court warrant (1) collection of “traffic data,” or data regarding Internet and phone usage that reveals the intimate patterns of one’s life, and (2) taking down websites allegedly involved in cybercrimes. The “double jeopardy” provision imposing higher penalties on cybercrimes compared to their real-world counterparts was upheld except in relation to libel and child pornography. Note that Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is now vocally protesting the decision, was assigned to attack this provision at the Supreme Court but came unprepared, giving answers such as “I’m not very good at the Internet” and “I’m not familiar with the technology.”

Netizens must critically understand the cybercrime decision before joining the angry bandwagon. That said, I invite the outraged to call Sotto an idiot in a truly #NonLibelousTweet. Know that doing so is no cybercrime, but part of a storied tradition traced to our parents who stood against tanks at Edsa in 1986 and to the sacrifice of all who died wearing our flag and uniform in our great nation’s history.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2014, 11:22 AM
Santiago vows to lead fight against online libel

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:05 am | Friday, February 21st, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago vowed Thursday to rally her colleagues to repeal the libel provision of the cybercrime law, but also urged netizens to do this in court.

Santiago said that as it was worded, the libel provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012—upheld in a Supreme Court ruling announced on Tuesday—was vague, and very broad.

“You hardly know who are covered by it. Although the SC said it is only the sender who is liable not the person who is commenting or who is receiving, but what does this word mean? Who is the sender? The service provider? The individual netizen? Or if they are a group, how are we identifying them? Or even worse, if they are not using their true identities, how are you going to go beyond what they profess to be their identities on the Internet? That is the main problem today,” she told reporters.

The language has become so vague, Santiago said, “that it becomes illegal since it is a very significant constraint” on freedom of expression.

“I humbly submit that the SC ruling on this particular provision is erroneous and I call on all netizens to magnify all our efforts and to speed it up as soon as possible so that we can either file a motion for reconsideration with respect to this particular libel provision or we can speed it up here in the Senate on that new law,” she said.

Legal but not moral

Santiago said she would fully support a motion for reconsideration, and vowed to “redouble” her efforts to convince the Senate to pass a new law repealing the online provision.

She said various states have passed legislation decriminalizing libel. “Meaning to say if you are proved to have been guilty of libel you no longer go to jail, but you have to pay damages to the person who has been injured,” she said.

The Supreme Court ruling came more than a year after netizens questioned the cybercrime law, which was signed in September 2012.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano asserted that the libel provision in the law suppressed the freedom of speech of Internet users.

“What is constitutional and what is legal is not necessarily what is moral and what is right. The Supreme Court based it on the legality of the provision. But on the wisdom of the law, that is for Congress to determine,” Cayetano said.

Tool to stifle dissent

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the justice committee, said he would call a hearing on proposals to decriminalize online libel. At least six bills on the issue have been introduced in the Senate.

In a statement, the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Inc. said cyberlibel creates a “chilling effect” among workers, most of whom are nonunionized and are highly vulnerable to company harassment and retrenchment.

“We can expect corporations to use libel lawsuits to stifle workers’ voices and block democratic initiatives of workers online such as social media campaigns,” said the institute’s Carlos Maningat.

“Online libel further narrows the democratic space for Filipino workers who are increasingly turning to social networking sites to voice labor concerns in the absence of unions,” he added.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the court ruling was a “backward step,” noting the power of social media that was demonstrated in the public outrage against the pork barrel system.

“We’ve seen how the lively online discussion became a positive force to change society,” Tinio said.—With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and Tina G. Santos

Sam Miguel
02-24-2014, 08:48 AM
Libel in the age of like

by Chay F. Hofileña

Posted on 02/21/2014 4:58 PM | Updated 02/21/2014 6:40 PM

The Supreme Court ruling on the Cybercrime Law tries to strike a delicate balance between protecting public interest and civil liberties.

All 15 justices unanimously decided that sections 12 (real-time collection of traffic data), 19 (restricting or blocking access to computer data), and 4(c)(3) on unsolicited commercial communications were unconstitutional. They were however split on the divisive and controversial provision on libel. Two justices inhibited on this issue – *Estela Perlas Bernabe and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

In the end, the Court ruled online libel as constitutional “with respect to the original author of the post.” But it also declared online libel to be “unconstitutional only where it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it.”

The attempt at nuancing has created some confusion so that what has emerged as a clear conclusion from the High Court’s decision is that online libel is only partially unconstitutional.

Even Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the tribunal’s ruling on online libel was “erroneous” because of vagueness and overbreadth.

Interestingly, according to inside information, 3 justices – Arturo Brion, Marvic Leonen, and Antonio Carpio – had their sights on the libel provisions of the Revised Penal Code. Justice Roberto A. Abad, who authored the majority decision, focused only on online libel.

Carpio and Brion wanted Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code declared unconstitutional in relation to public figures and public officials because of the presumption of malice, which runs counter to the spirit of the New York Times vs Sullivan case.

Landmark decision

Civil libertarians often cite this case as the basis of their arguments on the importance of free speech. In that landmark decision, freedom of speech and of the press were upheld by US justices led by William Brennan Jr who wrote that “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

Citing James Madison, who crafted the US First Amendment, Brennan said that even certain false statements “must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the ‘breathing space’ that they ‘need…to survive.’”

In New York Times Co. vs Sullivan, a libel case was filed against the New York Times and 4 African-American clergymen who put out a full-page ad titled, “Heed Their Rising Voices.” The ad alleged police mistreatment of Black students engaged in non-violent demonstrations against racial injustice. Though unnamed, Alabama city official L.B. Sullivan felt alluded to and filed a libel case, citing factual errors in the ad. An Alabama jury ruled in favor of Sullivan but the case was elevated to the federal court.

The high court ruled on the case, with Justice Brennan pointing out that even if some of the statements in the Times ad were false, this should not be the basis of a libel conviction because “erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate.”

Grounds for libel

Reacting to the Philippine Supreme Court’s ruling on online libel, lawyer JJ Disini pointed out that the Court’s use of the word “simply” means that one cannot be charged with libel in the context of “merely” liking or reacting to a post. But anything more incendiary or aggravating may be grounds for a libel case.

Concretely, this means that in the age of social media if someone merely shares a potentially libelous story on his Facebook wall on say, Jeane Napoles and her grandiose lifestyle, he cannot be sued for libel because he is not the original author of the post.

Even if he adds detailed and more damaging commentary, he would still be safe because of Jeane’s status as a “quasi-public figure” (someone forced by circumstances or a situation to become more publicly known).

Thus, if he posts her real estate records in addition to the story, he probably cannot be charged with libel especially if his main motivation for doing so is to establish unexplained wealth, a public interest issue.

Yet if someone says something defamatory about her nose, for instance, a comment that has absolutely nothing to do with good intentions or the issue of unexplained wealth, that person may be held liable for his post.

This is consistent with the Revised Penal Code, which states that any defamatory imputation can still be libelous, even if true. In short, if malice is proven, truth cannot be used as a defense against libel.

Even more vulnerable would be someone who posts a potentially defamatory story on a private person. If inflammatory commentary topped that post (“by the way, this businessman is an asshole”), whoever posts it may be liable for libel.

In addition, according to Disini, reproduction or republication of defamatory content can be judged a crime. And anyone who does so must take full responsibility.


This has raised the alarm bells for civil libertarians who have been pushing for the decriminalization of libel.

The most junior among the Philippine Supreme Court justices, Leonen, wanted to decriminalize libel, a core issue for freedom of speech advocates. In many countries, including the Philippines, libel is both a civil and criminal offense punishable by fines and imprisonment. Imprisonment, according to the Revised Penal Code, can range from 6 months and one day to as long as 6 years.

Fear of imprisonment can result in self-censorship, which does not encourage a vibrant exchange of ideas or spirited debates. In a democracy like ours, freedom of speech should take precedence over the protection of individual reputations, libertarians insist. While individual rights ought to be protected as well, the sanctity of the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution is primordial.

In less expressive societies, freedom of speech must be allowed to flourish, libertarians argue. Speech that seeks to systematically destroy reputations without any noble motive would perhaps be an exception. But punishment should never be criminal in nature – if the Philippines is to join a growing community of nations that views imprisonment due to libel as a step back in time.

Republic Act 10175’s Section 6 specifies that penalties should be “one degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.”

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno wanted this struck down but only at least 3 justices – Carpio, Jose C. Mendoza, and Leonen – are said to have voted with her on this provision.


In the online world where social media is pervasive and has become the platform and means by which to spread information rapidly, it is understandable how the online medium can be regarded as a more dangerous place that should offer heavier penalties to those who abuse it.

In a sense, defamatory information shared or stored online can be more virulent and can inflict more harm, but is there really a difference compared to broadcast media in terms of reach and impact, or to print media in terms of permanence?

The online medium is borderless, hard to control and police. Law enforcement in such an environment poses steep challenges not only to resources, but to personnel and equipment as well. How long before surveillance equipment, for example, used on possible violators become outdated and useless?

As Santiago herself pointed out, “There will be extreme difficulty in law enforcement and if you cannot enforce a law, you better strike it off the records because it promotes contempt for the law.”

Besides, in a democratic society’s hierarchy of values, erroneous statements made online might be a small price to pay for the continued enjoyment of the freedom of expression. To paraphrase a quote attributed to either French writer Voltaire or his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, libertarians on social media today would likely say, “I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
02-24-2014, 09:49 AM
SC’s lone dissent: Leonen says online libel unconstitutional

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Only Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voted for the decriminalization of libel online and in the Revised Penal Code when the Supreme Court (SC) deliberated on the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Law last week.

The SC’s youngest member dissented from the majority decision of 12 other justices declaring the libel provision in the Cybercrime Law as constitutional.

“Criminalizing libel contradicts our notions of a genuinely democratic society... The Constitution requires that libel... be struck down as infringing upon the guarantee of freedom of expression,” he said in his opinion.

Leonen, whom President Aquino named to the SC in November 2012, defined libel as an anachronistic tool that may have had its uses in older societies: a monkey wrench that will steal inspiration from the democratic mob.

“Given the statutory text, the history of the concept of criminal libel, and our Court’s experience with libel, I am of the view that its continued criminalization, especially in platforms using the Internet unqualifiedly produces a chilling effect that stifles our fundamental guarantees of free speech,” he said.

Leonen said the threat of being prosecuted for online libel under Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Law, stifles the dynamism of conversations in cyberspace.

“These conversations can be loose yet full of emotion,” he said.

“These can be analytical and the product of painstaking deliberation. Other conversations can just be exponential combinations of these forms that provide canisters to evolving ideas as people from different communities with varied identities and cultures come together to test their messages.”

Leonen, the only SC member to publicly and actively use social media sites, specifically Twitter, voted to grant the prayer in 15 consolidated petitions to strike down section 4 (c) (4) of the Cybercrime Law penalizing acts of libel as defined in the Revised Penal Code committed through a computer system.

All the other 12 justices present in voting agreed that the assailed provision is legal.

The SC ruled that cyber libel when imposed on “original author of the post” is constitutional, but that it is unconstitutional when those who simply receive the post and react to it are penalized.

Among the key provisions declared constitutional were the sections penalizing illegal access, data interference, cybersquatting, computer-related identity theft, cybersex, child pornography and allowing search and seizure of computer data.

Leonen also objected to the majority ruling on the cybersex provision as unconstitutional.

He believes the criminalization of cybersex under RA 10175 stifles speech, aggravates inequalities between genders and will only encrust the views of the powerful.

“Sexual expression can be titillating and engaging,” he said.

Sam Miguel
02-24-2014, 09:50 AM
Unnecessary, not unconstitutional


By Jose C. Sison

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

Let us not over-react to the recent Supreme Court decision on the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 10175). We should carefully study the entire case first before attacking the court and its decision on the matter.

Apparently the raging furor against the decision comes from the millions of netizens or cyberspace users who filed eleven Petitions asking the SC to invalidate the law for being unconstitutional. They felt threatened that the law deprives them of their freedom of speech and of expression guaranteed by our constitution (Article III Section 4). Their reaction may be understandable as this kind of threat may really exist. But is it enough to justify the invalidation of the entire law?

A thorough and deliberate study of the Cybercrime Prevention Act readily shows that it also has some good and laudable provisions especially in the light of the fast growing high tech social media of communications through cyberspace that transcends borders. There really ought to be a law which will protect the millions of PC users from the proliferating “cybercrimes” that the law has listed down.

In fact the law has pinpointed said crimes in Sections 4 and 5, as follows: (1) using someone’s computer without permission; (2) intercepting someone’s data without permission; (3) “damaging or deleting someone’s files without permission and spreading computer viruses”; (4)“hacking into a system and interfering with files”; (5) “buying a domain name similar or identical to an existing trademark or the name of another person”; (6) forging signatures through Photoshop”; (7)“using the Internet to commit fraud”; (8 )“stealing somebody’s Facebook account; (9)“posting a sex video in exchange for money or favors”; and (10) “sending spam e-mails.”

The law likewise penalizes other “Cybersex” crimes committed against children like: (a)“running a child pornography syndicate”; (b) “producing directing and distributing sex video with children in it; (c)“possessing three or more pornographic pictures and videos of children”; (d)“luring a minor over the Internet to have sex”; (e)“sharing a link to a child porn site”; (f)“intentionally accessing any form of child porn”; and (g) possessing any form of child pornography”.

Likewise punishable under this law are: “using and possessing or producing an electronic device to commit any of the above crimes; helping someone in the commission of the above crimes; and attempting to commit any of the above crimes”.

These are the provisions which the SC found to be within the bounds of the constitution, including the penalties for these crimes consisting of imprisonment ranging in duration from 1-6 months, 1-6 years, 6-12 years and 12-20 years and/or fines of varying amounts. Three of the cybersex crimes affecting children (Section 4 © (l) are punishable with life imprisonment and higher amounts of fines.

On the other hand the SC also found some means employed to achieve the good and laudable purposes of the law constitutionally flawed and thus struck them down. These are the vague provisions that give almost unbridled powers to law enforcers and other government agencies in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes amounting to undue intrusion into the privacy of individuals, suppression of the freedom of speech and even deprivation of the due process of law. Thus under the law surveillance of Internet communications can be made merely because there is “due cause” to do so. Searches and seizures can be done without court order issued only after determining the existence of probable cause. Cyberspace communications can be restricted or blocked by government agents if they believe that it constitutes a cybercrime.

On the whole therefore, the SC cannot be faulted for rendering the decision in question. It was just doing its job of deciding cases involving the constitutionality of a law which is their duty under Section 5, Article VIII of the Charter.

Apparently most netizens are furious and vehemently assail the SC decision upholding the constitutionality of cyber libel found in Section 5. Under this section, the author of libelous internet communications including even some “tweets” like saying that “a politician has committed a crime or that the President is sick” is already punishable as libel with imprisonment of up to twelve years. The seemingly oppressive penalties imposed led people to say that the SC has curtailed their freedom of expression and that “cyberspace martial law” has been imposed in the country.

The remedy here however is not with the SC. The question here is no longer about the constitutionality of the law but its necessity in view of the existing laws covering these cyber crimes. The cybersex crimes committed on children are already punishable under RA 9775 particularly Section 4 (b) (d) (h) (i) (j) and (l). Then the “Electronic Commerce Act or RA 8754 already punishes hacking, email spam and introduction of computer viruses, theft of electronic data or documents or downloading of communications and making them public through the use of the internet (See Sections 47 and 48 ).

On the other hand the libel provision in Section 5 is also not necessary anymore. There is already a libel law found in Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The elements of libel as defined by the RPC may also be applicable to the online communications aside from the print and broadcast media. Indeed pursuant to Article 355, libel is committed by means of writings or similar means. As long as there is a publication of the malicious imputation of a “crime, vice, or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead”, libel is committed. Publication “takes the form of delivering, reading, exhibiting or communicating the libelous matter to any person other than the person libeled”. Definitely this covers on line communications already.

So it is Congress which must review or amend the cyber law by discarding the provisions already covered by existing laws, removing oppressive the penalties imposed and/or even totally repealing it for being unnecessary.

02-26-2014, 10:48 AM
From EDSA to cyber space: Fight goes on for lost freedoms

By Dino Balabo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Journalists, netizens and students across the country marked the 28th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA Revolution with protest actions against the online libel provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The protest also marked the increasing influence of social media that reinforced traditional forms of protest on the streets.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) led the simulated “Black Tuesday Protest” with its local chapter here in Bulacan, describing it as “free expression from Highway 54 to cyber space.”

Highway 54 is the old name of EDSA, the center of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

While the protest is dubbed Black Tuesday, it actually started on Monday afternoon, after a handful of journalism students from the Bulacan State University here joined members of the NUJP-Bulacan chapter in a silent protest.

Students and journalists alike pulled slogans written on bond paper and posed for pictures in front of the Marcelo H. del Pilar monument at the Bulacan provincial capitol compound.

Those pictures were later posted on social media, especially Facebook, as part of the NUJP-Bulacan chapter’s cooperation in yesterday’s Black Tuesday Protest.

The NUJP-Bulacan chapter said the activity is in support of the calls for the junking of the online libel provision of the Cybercrime Law.

Philippine Press Institute chairman Jesus Dureza described the online libel provision as a “Jurassic penal sanction.”

He said that libel provisions in the more than 80-year-old Revised Penal Code (RPC) and in the newly minted Cybercrime Prevention Act must be removed.

“It is not only in the Supreme Court where we can seek relief from the unconscionable provisions and Jurassic penal sanctions of this new law. We can also go to Congress,” Dureza said.

“Let us all unite and support the move in Congress to decriminalize libel and remove the penal sanctions in all statute books that impinge on our inalienable freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”

The Philippine Center for investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said much has changed since the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was toppled during the People Power revolt in 1986.

“But as many have pointed out, there are many things that have also remained the same,” the PCIJ said in its blog.

“As the nation celebrates the 28th anniversary of the revolt that toppled an overstaying regime, media and civil society groups have banded together for a new call for People Power: A call to junk the Cyber Libel provision of Republic Act 10175.”

Vice President Jejomar Binay also supported moves to decriminalize libel.

Binay, however, said he agreed with the SC decision upholding the constitutionality of the online libel provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Binay said he hoped that libel would be decriminalized, but freedom of expression should be balanced with restraint and accountability.

“You cannot just allow defamation to continue without accountability. But it should not be a criminal offense,” he said.

Binay reiterated that while people have the freedom to bash others in social media, measures must be introduced so that those who use the medium to spread malicious statements could be made accountable.

He added that this was in light of the increasing use of social media as a means of propagating black propaganda against individuals.

“There are constraints, parameters (to freedom of expression). You can’t simply defame one’s person on a whim,” Binay said during the commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution at the People Power Monument.

‘Online libel mocks EDSA spirit’

Around a hundred netizens, media practitioners and members of various militant organizations and civil society groups also marked the 28th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution by joining the Black Tuesday protest against the cybercrime prevention law at the EDSA Shrine.

“The message of EDSA is freedom of the press and freedom of the expression. But with the cybercrime law, the (decision of the SC to uphold the) online libel provision, and President Aquino’s defense of the law, it appears that the spirit of EDSA is being challenged” said Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, one of those who asked the SC to declare the cybercrime law unconstitutional.

Last week, the SC ruled in favor of online libel and declared as constitutional provisions in the law penalizing illegal access, data interference, cyber squatting, computer-related identity theft, cybersex, child pornography and allowing search and seizure of computer data.

The SC declared unconstitutional provisions penalizing unsolicited commercial communication, authorizing the collection or recording of traffic data in real-time and authorizing the Department of Justice to restrict or block access to suspected computer data.

Ridon said the petitioners would also separately file motions for reconsideration before the high court to appeal the SC ruling.

Prior to the rally, critics of the cybercrime law called on netizens to change their profile pictures and the content of their websites to black to protest the law.

The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications issued a statement affirming its call for the repeal of the law.

The college said that while they welcome the SC decision on the unconstitutionality of the takedown clause and the provision allowing investigators to collect real-time data, “the UP CMC expresses disappointment and concern that the fundamental issues surrounding RA 10175 have not been addressed.”

The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) – also a petitioner in the case – said the SC threw away an opportunity to champion Internet freedom with its decision. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Janvic Mateo

Sam Miguel
02-27-2014, 07:58 AM
What is libel?


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 27, 2014 - 12:00am

I am not a lawyer and, therefore, cannot claim to know all the legal niceties of the Revised Penal Code. I understand, anyway, that any two lawyers will always have at least three legal opinions.

Having said that, however, I must say that I have a journalist’s understanding of libel. The late journalist Giovanni Calvo was never charged with libel, despite having made his reputation repeating choice titbits about showbiz personalities. His formula was simple. He would always say something like “It is not true that X is having an affair with Y.”

As abogadomo.com puts it, “In libel cases, the question is not what the writer of an alleged libel means, but what the words used by him mean.” Calvo’s statement denies that X is having an affair with Y. Calvo may have meant or implied that, indeed, X was having an affair with Y, but the words themselves say the exact opposite. If charged with libel, Calvo would have said, with complete accuracy and probably with a straight face, that he precisely denied that there was such an affair.

Similarly, if I said that Senator Sotto were a dumb ass, he might charge me with libel. I could then reply that I did not say that he was a dumb ass. The sentence “If I said that Senator Sotto were a dumb ass” is in the subjunctive mood, which every grammarian knows is not the indicative mood. It does not really matter whether I think he is a dumb ass or not. What matters is what the words mean, and they do not mean that he is a dumb ass.

Actually, even if I did say that he was a dumb ass, the statement might still not be libelous. Read this marvelous, sarcastic observation by the California Court of Appeals in judging a case where politicians were listed in a list of Top Ten Dumb Asses:

“A statement that the plaintiff is a ‘Dumb Ass,’ even first among ‘Dumb Asses,’ communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation. It is true that ‘dumb’ by itself can convey the relatively concrete meaning ‘lacking in intelligence.’ Even so, depending on context, it may convey a lack less of objectively assayable mental function than of such imponderable and debatable virtues as judgment or wisdom. To call a man ‘dumb’ often means no more than to call him a ‘fool.’ One man’s fool may be another’s savant. Indeed, a corollary of Lincoln’s famous aphorism is that every person is a fool some of the time.

“Here defendant did not use ‘dumb’ in isolation, but as part of the idiomatic phrase, ‘dumb ass.’ When applied to a whole human being, the term ‘ass’ is a general expression of contempt essentially devoid of factual content. Adding the word ‘dumb’ merely converts ‘contemptible person’ to ‘contemptible fool.’ Plaintiffs were justifiably insulted by this epithet, but they failed entirely to show how it could be found to convey a provable factual proposition.” (masslawblog.com)

Unfortunately for Filipinos, truth is not a defense against libel in our country. Even if I had a video of X having illicit sex with Y, for example, I still could not say that X is having sex with Y. I would have to resort to the Calvo method and say that, “The videotape of X having sex with Y is not a videotape of X having sex with Y.” I could say all sorts of equivalent things, such as the tape was spliced, the people were just body doubles, it was all photoshopped in some sophisticated way, or that it is just a videotape and not the actual thing. As long as I do not say outright that X is having sex with Y, I am not liable for libel.

Even more unfortunately for us Filipinos, however, a libel charge does not have to be justified in order to make journalists tremble in fear.

In chess, just to cite an analogy, nobody actually captures or takes a king (which is the object of the game). One threatens to capture or take the opponent’s king. One can do this explicitly by shouting “Check” or by creating a position where the opponent’s king could be mated (or forced into a position involving certain death) in a few moves. As chess players say, it is the threat and not the execution that is important.

The problem with the cyberlibel provision is that it is a threat. Whether it will actually lead to someone being hauled to jail or fined some unpayable amount is irrelevant.

Once you are charged with libel, your life will change drastically. You will need to spend money you cannot afford to spend on lawyers. Instead of writing in order to earn more income, you will have to attend endless court hearings.

The cyberlibel provision will force you not to tell the truth anymore. It may not be “prior restraint” in the sense that you would still be able to say what you wanted to say, but it is “prior restraint” in the sense that you would be a dumb ass to put yourself in a situation where some dumb ass would charge you with libel even if you did not commit it.

03-10-2014, 09:34 AM
Understanding the cybercrime decision

By Artemio V. Panganiban

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:54 am | Sunday, March 9th, 2014

The Supreme Court’s decision (Jesus Disini vs SOJ, Feb. 18, 2014) on the Cybercrime Prevention Law (CPL) is a delight for constitutional law scholars. The 50-page, single-space majority ruling penned by Justice Roberto A. Abad as well as the concurring and dissenting opinions of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno (43 pages) and Justices Antonio T. Carpio (32 pages), Arturo D. Brion (26 pages plus a 9-page annex) and Mario Victor F. Leonen (100 pages) are veritable treatises on the freedom of expression.

Old doctrines. They explained the nature and ramifications of the Internet, but Justice Leonen’s was the most extensive. He discussed many details like: “The allocation of unique identifiers for the internet, such as IP addresses and domain names, is administered not by a public entity but by a nonprofit corporation based in the United States: the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).”

(While reading them, I remembered that, unknown to many, a talented and lovely Filipino, Judith Duavit-Vasquez, was elected as the first Asian woman to the ICANN board of trustees in 2011 for a 3-year term.)

These treatises indubitably show that the Court understands the complexity of cyberspace. They were able to correlate and apply the traditional doctrines on freedom of expression to the many complicated aspects of this Information Age marvel.

The freedom of expression—along with its derivatives like the freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and, most important, freedom to oppose and to disagree—is the most basic ingredient of democracy. Without free expression, liberty cannot flourish. Without the freedom to oppose, elections will be meaningless and democracy will perish.

The freedom of expression started with verbal speech, and with the march of science, it encompassed all emerging media, like newspapers, books, placards, leaflets, pulpits, theaters, picket lines, radio, television, billboards, cell phones and now, cyberspace.

Majority ruling. The judicial opinions were crafted in legalese and directed mainly to a legal audience. I will try to explain them in simple language for the lay readers to understand them. And to help Congress decriminalize libel without sacrificing the reputation of maligned citizens.

Let me begin with the majority’s ruling which reviewed each of the 21 challenged provisions of the CPL. This item-by-item review is unusual because the petitions, “save possibly for one,” failed—as ably pointed out by CJ Sereno and Justice Leonen—to raise an “actual case or controversy.” Explained Justice Leonen: “None of the petitioners … have been charged [with] any offense arising from the law being challenged…” No one has alleged any actual or imminent violation of any right.

In any event, of the 21 challenged provisions, 16 were deemed constitutional. Three were declared unconstitutional. First, the provision criminalizing the sending of spam mails. The Court reasoned: “To prohibit the transmission of unsolicited ads [under the conditions imposed in the law] would deny a person the right to read his emails… Unsolicited advertisements are legitimate forms of expression.”

Second, the provision allowing real-time collection of traffic data, like an e-mail’s “origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying data.” The Court said the real-time bulk (as distinguished from isolated) collection of a person’s data violates the right to privacy. “The power is virtually limitless, enabling law enforcement authorities to engage in ‘fishing expeditions,’ choosing whatever specified communication they want.”

Third, the provision authorizing the Department of Justice to restrict or block access to computer data that the DOJ suspects violate the CPL. It gives the DOJ, the Court said, the virtual power to search and seize private data without the requisite judicial search warrant, in stark violation of the Constitution.

Online libel. To recall, 16 provisions were deemed constitutional, while three were not. On the remaining two, the ruling was mixed. The Court upheld the provision penalizing online libel but only with respect to the original author of the post. Those who simply received the post and reacted to it, say, by resending it via Facebook or Twitter or other social media, are not criminally liable.

The Court explained that the CPL copied the provision on cyberlibel from the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which had not been declared unconstitutional during the last 50 years. The CPL merely extended its application to cyberspace, and should thus remain constitutional.

The majority also upheld the higher penalty imposed on cyberlibel, reasoning that the determination of penalties is a legislative prerogative. The Court justified the more severe punishment by citing the inherent difficulty of identifying the cyberlibel culprit who “is able to reach far more victims or cause greater harm.”

However, the Court clarified that a prosecution for libel under the RPC bars a prosecution for the same post under the CPL, and vice versa, pursuant to the doctrine of double jeopardy. A printed article that is also posted online can be the subject of only one libel charge.

The majority’s refusal to invalidate libel is the most controversial part of the Court’s decision. Reacting to widespread protests, many legislators filed bills to decriminalize libel altogether. Next Sunday: the dissents, and why I agree with some of them.

* * *

Sam Miguel
03-19-2014, 11:22 AM

by Paolo Villaluna

Posted on 03/16/2014 7:29 PM | Updated 03/17/2014 8:09 PM

There are many and varied reasons why people fuck. These reasons, despite the preachings of the pure and the just, are not limited to procreation. The reasons may be immoral to some moralities, depraved to other sensibilities, but for as long as both parties – or all parties, however many are involved – are of legal age and actively consent, the law considers sexual activity a personal choice.

I always believed that my democratic government supported that choice. My bedroom is my bedroom, but unlike the generations before me, my bedroom is not limited to the 12 by 12 foot space my P6,000 a month rental affords me. My bedroom spans the depth and breadth of the universe; my bedroom is as large or as small as I choose. My bedroom is cyberspace.

It is difficult to understand why cybersex is such a terrifying concept to so many. Cybersex is sex on the Internet. It’s virtual sex. It’s private among consenting adults. It’s cybersex when you’re an overseas worker stripping over Skype in front of your Filipino wife. It’s cybersex when you use SnapChat and exchange nude pictures with your girlfriend. It’s cybersex when you jack off after creating avatars with oversized dicks on Second Life.

Unless you belong to some sect espousing celibacy, sex is basic to human expression. It is true there are many dangers involved in the sweaty reality of sexual intercourse. Online sex in fact limits those dangers, affording anyone with a DSL connection sex that doesn’t deal with unwanted pregnancies, awkward mornings after, stained bed sheets and a slew of deadly diseases.

There are as many apps for cybersex and dating as there are available motel rooms in the back streets of Pasig. It’s an alphabet soup of possibilities for every mobile preference – Alikewise, Badoo, Cloud Girlfriend, Cupid, EHarmony, Kik, Grindr, Tinder – as well as the whole range of messaging platforms like FaceTime, Yahoo! Messenger, Viber, Line, What’s App and the old reliable of Facebook private messaging. As long as you’re of legal age and consenting, your pursuit of happiness is only a matter of logging in.

You get aroused, you get your kicks, you get your orgasm, you call it cybersex. Cybersex is sex. It is not pornography. It is not public. It is a choice.

The criminalization of sex

All of these make it difficult to understand why the Supreme Court upheld Congress’ declaration that the act of cybersex is a criminal act deserving of 6 years in jail or P200,000 in penalties.

Section 4 (c) (1) of the Cybecrime Act of 2012 lists cybersex along with child pornography, cyber libel and identity theft as a criminal offense. It is a blanket declaration whose absoluteness would have been funny had it not been so dangerous. Cybersex with a minor should be illegal. Cybersex with a prostitute should be illegal. Cybersex using someone else’s identity should be illegal. But cybersex as a criminal act among consenting adults is as ridiculous as handcuffing a married couple indulging in a Valentine’s Day celebration.

Even setting aside the wholesale criminalization of cybersex as an act, it is crucial to understand what the honorable gentlemen of Congress mean when they say cybersex. They may claim to only target certain and specific acts, but their definition carelessly covers all acts.

Congress calls cybersex “the willful engagement, maintenance, control or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.”

This is not a definition of cybersex. This is a definition of all sexual acts, illegal or otherwise, written by people who do not know what cybersex is, who lump free and consensual sex with child trafficking and prostitution, who in the process of attempting to punish criminals are now punishing the rest of the country. It’s a treatise of what cyber experts call the fear of the mythical dark web: the imaginary underbelly of a virtual world for drug dealers and human traffickers where virtue is for sale and laws have no power.

This could mean the creation of an online police. This could mean an official ban on pornography. This could mean your Tumblr account where you collect naked art shots is illegal. This could mean you could be sanctioned for the half-naked photos on your Instagram account because you demand favor in the form of likes. This could mean that every time you Google words like cock, vagina, blowjob, cum and sex, an error 404 will greet your stunned face. This could mean a new dark age.

Welcome to the dark ages

I may have less faith in a congress that spends most of its time battling back corruption charges and proclaiming adobo as the national food, but forgive me if I expected more from the High Court.

Only two justices struck down the cybersex clause as unconstitutional for its vagaries, two of fifteen in a recent decision. The rest upheld the criminalization of cybersex, claiming that it is clear from congressional deliberations that the clause is only against “illegal cybersex.” The point is to “punish cyber prostitution, white slave trade and pornography for favor and consideration.” (READ: Cybersex, media, privacy and the cybercrime law)

Nowhere in the law is it clear. Nowhere does it say “illegal cybersex.” The one clear thought in the clause is that the law says cybersex is a crime. Certainly it would have been possible to directly criminalize cyber prostitution, but Congress was careless and the High Court appeared willing to cover the government’s collective asses.

The law “invites us to go beyond the plain and ordinary text of the law and replace it with deliberations in committees that prepared the provision,” as Justice Marvic Leonen writes in his dissent. The provision, he says, is “too sweeping in its scope.”

“The majority is not clear why the tighter language defining the crimes of prostitution and white slavery was not referred to clearly in the provision.” He argues that the law fails to justify “the state’s interest in prohibiting intimate private exhibition.”

This is not a philosophical argument arguing semantics and paranoia. The law is as it is, and any limitations should be in the law itself, not in some presumed intention a policeman holding a copy of the law will see.

The public may be free to fight criminal prosecution, but they shouldn’t be compelled to fight at all, shouldn’t be chilled by fear and made to live in dread when they choose to jack off with a partner online.

The court majority appears to be satisfied applying archaic values to sex. It presents a dilemma between generations. The rules are different today from they were twenty years ago. There are no bars here or romantic dinners. Sex online by virtue of its nature is both limited and expanded by its virtuality—a date can be an imaginary picnic under tangerine trees and marmalade skies just as well as it can be a naked exhibition over Yahoo! Messenger. The Internet is not to blame here, any more than motels charging P599 for three hours can be penalized for being the site of sexual encounters.

The burden of proof

The Internet has created a new language, a new social order, one that is still private, still free, still driven by personal choice. Adding the word cyber to sex doesn’t make sex pornographic, much less, criminal. All over the world all things cyber will become as conventional as smart phones are today, from Google glass to Ocular Rift’s virtual reality, and many of these will be platforms for cyber sex. Virtual will be social and teenagers will lose their virginities online.

“We think that everything must be so much worse because of technology," says Danah Boyd, the leading authority on teenage interaction with technology. "The funny thing is that we’ve had these moral panics for every generation. Comics were ruining everybody, rock and roll was ruining everybody, MTV was ruining everybody we’ve had this in many different iterations.”

It appears that the defenders of the new law are insisting on immortalizing their single moral code. It would be easy to blame it on age, but perhaps it is simply the arrogance of the technologically ignorant imposing puritanical norms on what they perceive are incomprehensible evils. Values are changing. Homosexuality is protected, marijuana is gaining acceptance, the Church is taking responsibility for its crimes, and even Amnesty International is supporting the legalization of prostitution. You may not agree with these values, it means there are a multiplicity of beliefs, and that multiplicity is where freedom lies.

The truth is that it is not necessary to justify cyber sex. It is necessary to justify to us why it is wrong.

I do not know which is more dangerous: the legal imposition of an older generation’s morals on a new generation, or that my lawmakers do not know the difference between cybersex and cyber prostitution.

Between righteousness and idiocy, the result is clear—the next generation will be breaking a law every time they want to fuck. – Rappler.com

Paolo Villaluna is an Urian award-winning filmmaker whose full-length films have gained international acclaim. He is the co-creator the documentary show Storyline, and also makes television commercials. He claims his half-naked photos in his Instagram account are not lascivious. Instagram @pvillaluna, Twitter @paolovillaluna

12-15-2014, 11:46 AM
Sowing Mayhem, One Click at a Time

DEC. 14, 2014

David Carr


The Internet has given us many glorious things: streaming movies, multiplayer games, real-time information and videos of cats playing the piano. It has also offered up some less edifying creations: web-borne viruses, cybercrime and Charles C. Johnson.

His name came out of nowhere and now seems to be everywhere. When the consumer Internet first unfolded, there was much talk about millions of new voices blooming. Mr. Johnson is one of those flowers. His tactics may have as much in common with ultimate fighting as journalism, but that doesn’t mean he is not part of the conversation.

Mr. Johnson, a 26-year-old blogger based in California, has worked his way to the white-hot center of the controversy over a Rolling Stone article about rape accusations made by a student at the University of Virginia. His instinct that the report was deeply flawed was correct, but he proceeded to threaten on Twitter to expose the student and then later named her. And he serially printed her photo while going after her in personal and public ways.

In the frenzy to discredit her, he published a Facebook photo of someone he said was the same woman at a rally protesting an earlier rape. Oops. Different person. He did correct himself, but the damage, now to two different women, was done.

Before that, his targets were two reporters for The New York Times who, he said, revealed the address of the police officer in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting. (They didn’t. They published the name of a street he once lived on, which had already been published in The Washington Post and other media outlets.) Before that, he attacked the victim of the shooting, Michael Brown.

Before that, he attacked Senator Cory Booker, saying the lawmaker did not live in Newark when he was the city’s mayor; BuzzFeed wrote that Mr. Johnson not only was wrong, but had worked for a political action committee that opposed Mr. Booker. He also wrote a series of Twitter messages that suggested President Obama was gay. He offered money for photos of Senator Thad Cochran’s wife in her nursing home bed. Before that, well, it doesn’t really matter; you get the pattern.

He is not without some talent — he effectively ended the career of the rising foreign policy analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy after exposing her conflicts of interest and fudged academic credentials. In general, he has a knack for staking an outrageous, attacking position on a prominent news event, then pounding away until he is noticed. It is one way to go, one that says everything about the corrosive, underreported news era we are living through.

In a phone call, he made it clear that he sees himself as part of the vanguard of Internet news, although he did add that some of what he is up to is a response to a lifetime of slights.

“I’m basically one of those kids who was bullied all his life,” he said. He’s now extracting payback, one post at a time.

Much of what he publishes is either wrong or tasteless, but that matters little to Mr. Johnson or his audience, which responds by forming mobs on Twitter or using the personal information to put fake ads on Craigslist to chase after the targets he points to.

After watching him set off a series of small mushroom clouds, it struck me that he might be the ultimate expression of a certain kind of citizen journalism — one far more toxic than we’re accustomed to seeing. Once a promising young conservative voice who wrote for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller and The Blaze, Mr. Johnson has a loose-cannon approach that alienated many of his editors. There was a time when that would have been the end of it, but with Twitter as a promotional platform, he has been able to build his own site called GotNews.

His most vociferous critics are on the right because they think his outrageous tactics bring disrepute to the conservative cause. But many — like the studios in Hollywood who have stood by watching the cyberattack on Sony unfold without emitting a peep — do not want to speak on the record for fear they will end up in his gun sights. (One exception was a Daily Caller contributor, Matt K. Lewis, who called out The Washington Post for what he characterized as a “romanticizing” profile of Mr. Johnson.)

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson told me he was going to sue many of his media tormentors, but all considered, it has been a pretty good run of attention for the once obscure blogger. When I spoke to him, he was feeling a bit hunted and fighting off a cold, but cheerful in the main, saying his grandiose plans to become the next Matt Drudge — or Joseph Pulitzer or William Randolph Hearst, two others he mentioned — were humming along smoothly.

“I’m in talks with investors right now, and I think we’ve already got the deal set up,” he said. “Basically I’m building a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded media company that is going to take all the people like me — autistics, researchers, nerds, ex-law enforcement, whistle-blowers — and we’re going to give them an opportunity to make money on the information that they have.”

He can now push the button on almost anything that has heat, a scent of scandal or the ability to activate his base of angry, conspiratorial readers, who believe the republic is being overwhelmed by criminals, feminists and the politicians who enable them. And then the rest of the journalistic establishment — including me — points a crooked finger at the naughty young man who is using his mouse to sow mayhem.

In that sense, Mr. Johnson shares some common characteristics with the so-called mood slime in “Ghostbusters II,” which lived underneath New York City and gathered strength by feeding on the anger coursing through the streets above it. He would be just one more person hurling invective from a basement somewhere if not for all of us — his fans, his enabling social media platforms and his critics in the news media — who have created this troll on steroids.

Although he was temporarily suspended from Twitter for publishing the personal information of others, he’s back on that site preaching to anyone who will listen. I’d ignore him if I thought he would go away, but I get the feeling he won’t.

In conversation, Mr. Johnson is prone to narcissism, not uncommon in media types, but he has his own special brand of it. He sees himself as a major character in a great unfolding epoch, dwelling on his school-age accomplishments and his journalism awards and vaguely suggesting that he has strong ties to many levels of law enforcement. Like what, I asked?

“Have you ever read the book or heard of the book ‘Encyclopedia Brown’?” he asked, referring to a series about a boy detective. “That’s the capacity in which I help them. I don’t go out of my way to discuss the kind of, shall we say, clandestine work I do, because the nature of the work has to be clandestine in order for it be effective.”


He intimated that he had experienced some blowback and that he now felt under threat. “People are trying to kill me and my family members,” he said.

In view of that, I asked him about publishing the home addresses of two Times journalists after erroneously claiming they had reported the address of the Ferguson policeman who shot Mr. Brown. “I didn’t say they published his address,” he said. Yes he did. He said that reporters “published the address of Darren Wilson in The New York Times so here are their addresses.” Moving on, he said that before releasing their personal information, he contacted some friends in law enforcement and told them, “We got to make sure these guys are protected in Chicago and elsewhere, but this is what I’m going to do.” Gee, thanks for that.

The reporters and their families were forced to vacate their homes after facing threats of robbery and rape. I asked what he thought about that.

“It doesn’t feel great, I’ll be honest with you, but I also don’t see it as fundamentally my fault,” he said.

“Look, a lot of people are upset with me,” he said, adding, “my batting average is very, very good. Have I got up to the plate and either hit the ball wrong or swung and missed? Yeah, absolutely, but I take risks that other people won’t take because I think the story requires it.”

Those are very noble words arrayed over some nasty handiwork.

My worry is that people who have made it this far in the column will click over to GotNews to see what all the fuss is about.

What they will find is a clear look into the molten core of a certain mind-set, a place where conspiracies are legion, victims are portrayed as perpetrators and so-called news is a fig leaf on a far darker art.

12-15-2014, 11:47 AM
Sowing Mayhem, One Click at a Time

DEC. 14, 2014

David Carr


The Internet has given us many glorious things: streaming movies, multiplayer games, real-time information and videos of cats playing the piano. It has also offered up some less edifying creations: web-borne viruses, cybercrime and Charles C. Johnson.

His name came out of nowhere and now seems to be everywhere. When the consumer Internet first unfolded, there was much talk about millions of new voices blooming. Mr. Johnson is one of those flowers. His tactics may have as much in common with ultimate fighting as journalism, but that doesn’t mean he is not part of the conversation.

Mr. Johnson, a 26-year-old blogger based in California, has worked his way to the white-hot center of the controversy over a Rolling Stone article about rape accusations made by a student at the University of Virginia. His instinct that the report was deeply flawed was correct, but he proceeded to threaten on Twitter to expose the student and then later named her. And he serially printed her photo while going after her in personal and public ways.

In the frenzy to discredit her, he published a Facebook photo of someone he said was the same woman at a rally protesting an earlier rape. Oops. Different person. He did correct himself, but the damage, now to two different women, was done.

Before that, his targets were two reporters for The New York Times who, he said, revealed the address of the police officer in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting. (They didn’t. They published the name of a street he once lived on, which had already been published in The Washington Post and other media outlets.) Before that, he attacked the victim of the shooting, Michael Brown.

Before that, he attacked Senator Cory Booker, saying the lawmaker did not live in Newark when he was the city’s mayor; BuzzFeed wrote that Mr. Johnson not only was wrong, but had worked for a political action committee that opposed Mr. Booker. He also wrote a series of Twitter messages that suggested President Obama was gay. He offered money for photos of Senator Thad Cochran’s wife in her nursing home bed. Before that, well, it doesn’t really matter; you get the pattern.

He is not without some talent — he effectively ended the career of the rising foreign policy analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy after exposing her conflicts of interest and fudged academic credentials. In general, he has a knack for staking an outrageous, attacking position on a prominent news event, then pounding away until he is noticed. It is one way to go, one that says everything about the corrosive, underreported news era we are living through.

In a phone call, he made it clear that he sees himself as part of the vanguard of Internet news, although he did add that some of what he is up to is a response to a lifetime of slights.

“I’m basically one of those kids who was bullied all his life,” he said. He’s now extracting payback, one post at a time.

Much of what he publishes is either wrong or tasteless, but that matters little to Mr. Johnson or his audience, which responds by forming mobs on Twitter or using the personal information to put fake ads on Craigslist to chase after the targets he points to.

After watching him set off a series of small mushroom clouds, it struck me that he might be the ultimate expression of a certain kind of citizen journalism — one far more toxic than we’re accustomed to seeing. Once a promising young conservative voice who wrote for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller and The Blaze, Mr. Johnson has a loose-cannon approach that alienated many of his editors. There was a time when that would have been the end of it, but with Twitter as a promotional platform, he has been able to build his own site called GotNews.

His most vociferous critics are on the right because they think his outrageous tactics bring disrepute to the conservative cause. But many — like the studios in Hollywood who have stood by watching the cyberattack on Sony unfold without emitting a peep — do not want to speak on the record for fear they will end up in his gun sights. (One exception was a Daily Caller contributor, Matt K. Lewis, who called out The Washington Post for what he characterized as a “romanticizing” profile of Mr. Johnson.)

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson told me he was going to sue many of his media tormentors, but all considered, it has been a pretty good run of attention for the once obscure blogger. When I spoke to him, he was feeling a bit hunted and fighting off a cold, but cheerful in the main, saying his grandiose plans to become the next Matt Drudge — or Joseph Pulitzer or William Randolph Hearst, two others he mentioned — were humming along smoothly.

“I’m in talks with investors right now, and I think we’ve already got the deal set up,” he said. “Basically I’m building a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded media company that is going to take all the people like me — autistics, researchers, nerds, ex-law enforcement, whistle-blowers — and we’re going to give them an opportunity to make money on the information that they have.”

He can now push the button on almost anything that has heat, a scent of scandal or the ability to activate his base of angry, conspiratorial readers, who believe the republic is being overwhelmed by criminals, feminists and the politicians who enable them. And then the rest of the journalistic establishment — including me — points a crooked finger at the naughty young man who is using his mouse to sow mayhem.

In that sense, Mr. Johnson shares some common characteristics with the so-called mood slime in “Ghostbusters II,” which lived underneath New York City and gathered strength by feeding on the anger coursing through the streets above it. He would be just one more person hurling invective from a basement somewhere if not for all of us — his fans, his enabling social media platforms and his critics in the news media — who have created this troll on steroids.

Although he was temporarily suspended from Twitter for publishing the personal information of others, he’s back on that site preaching to anyone who will listen. I’d ignore him if I thought he would go away, but I get the feeling he won’t.

In conversation, Mr. Johnson is prone to narcissism, not uncommon in media types, but he has his own special brand of it. He sees himself as a major character in a great unfolding epoch, dwelling on his school-age accomplishments and his journalism awards and vaguely suggesting that he has strong ties to many levels of law enforcement. Like what, I asked?

“Have you ever read the book or heard of the book ‘Encyclopedia Brown’?” he asked, referring to a series about a boy detective. “That’s the capacity in which I help them. I don’t go out of my way to discuss the kind of, shall we say, clandestine work I do, because the nature of the work has to be clandestine in order for it be effective.”


He intimated that he had experienced some blowback and that he now felt under threat. “People are trying to kill me and my family members,” he said.

In view of that, I asked him about publishing the home addresses of two Times journalists after erroneously claiming they had reported the address of the Ferguson policeman who shot Mr. Brown. “I didn’t say they published his address,” he said. Yes he did. He said that reporters “published the address of Darren Wilson in The New York Times so here are their addresses.” Moving on, he said that before releasing their personal information, he contacted some friends in law enforcement and told them, “We got to make sure these guys are protected in Chicago and elsewhere, but this is what I’m going to do.” Gee, thanks for that.

The reporters and their families were forced to vacate their homes after facing threats of robbery and rape. I asked what he thought about that.

“It doesn’t feel great, I’ll be honest with you, but I also don’t see it as fundamentally my fault,” he said.

“Look, a lot of people are upset with me,” he said, adding, “my batting average is very, very good. Have I got up to the plate and either hit the ball wrong or swung and missed? Yeah, absolutely, but I take risks that other people won’t take because I think the story requires it.”

Those are very noble words arrayed over some nasty handiwork.

My worry is that people who have made it this far in the column will click over to GotNews to see what all the fuss is about.

What they will find is a clear look into the molten core of a certain mind-set, a place where conspiracies are legion, victims are portrayed as perpetrators and so-called news is a fig leaf on a far darker art.

Sam Miguel
03-19-2015, 11:22 AM
Is there any recourse for victims of online photo memes?

By Leanne Italie (Associated Press) |

Updated March 19, 2015 - 10:42am

NEW YORK — Those pilfered, captioned and shared photos that make us either cringe, rage or laugh out loud are as old as the Internet itself, but in these wild online times, is there any recourse for their victims?

Memes, by definition viral little beasties, are everywhere, sometimes building over several years. And they have many heads — shaming wrongdoers, bullying innocents and poking fun at an awkward facial expression, twerk attempt, family portrait or school photo.

"When one of these mobs fixes on you it's like a Lovecraftian horror," said James Grimmelmann, a professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in Internet law. "Only madness awaits. It can be beyond the power of individuals to do a lot about it."

Kyra Pringle knows that firsthand.

The South Carolina mother of a 2-year-old with a grim life expectancy from a rare genetic disorder happily posted a picture on Facebook from her daughter's recent birthday, only to have the image rudely captioned and spread — sometimes gruesomely Photoshopped — thousands of times and her ill child compared to a monster, alien and leprechaun due to her unique facial features.

"This is bullying. This is not right. She's fought for her life since she got here," Pringle told NBC affiliate WCBD-TV near her Summerville home. "She's not a monster. She's not fake. She's real. She's here."

Pringle's mom, Linda Pringle, had equally strong words for those who memed her little granddaughter and do the same to the images of other unsuspecting strangers without context or backstory and with seemingly little thought beyond their own amusement and that of their friends and followers online. Some sites have since taken down memed images of the impaired toddler after word of her real-life story spread.

"If you're out there and you're doing these things, and you think that it's funny, it's not funny. This is actually a human being, this is a child, this is a baby," Linda Pringle told the TV station.

Private companies that own social media streams and channels juggle a broad range of take-down demands and other content issues such as copyright infringement, high-stakes privacy invasion and online harassment. But it can be difficult to eradicate viral content like photo memes altogether.

"We don't tolerate bullying or harassment on Facebook and Instagram, and remove content that appears to purposefully target people with the intention of degrading or shaming them," the company said in an email when asked about memes.

While community standards and guidelines do exist on many sites, including newly spelled-out rules on Facebook, routine photo meming may not include outright threats, hate speech or behavior that draws the attention of those in charge, such as a pattern of stalking or harassment targeting individuals identified by name, location or through other revealing details or leaks of Social Security numbers, phone numbers and street addresses, some Internet watchers said.

"It's not that there isn't an ethical problem, and a real problem as a society we should wrestle with, but law just wouldn't intervene and the First Amendment would say we don't stop it," said Danielle Keats Citron, a research professor of law at the University of Maryland and author of the book "Hate Crimes in Cyberspace," out Sept. 22 from Harvard University Press.

But a movement in Europe has taken hold in defense of the so-called "right to be forgotten" that has free speech and privacy activists alike paying attention. The European Court of Justice appeared to support the legal concept for people who want to force the removal of old, irrelevant or false material determined to infringe on their right to privacy.

The court, the highest in the European Union, sided last year with a man in Spain who had asked Google to eliminate from its search index information about some long-paid debts. It ruled that Google can be compelled to take that step, but the company so far has limited removal in the specific case to its Spain service, leaving the material readily searchable worldwide.

The ruling has broad implications in the tightrope walk between online privacy and free speech across the EU and around the globe, particularly in the United States, where free speech protection is deeply ingrained.

"It's very hard. We've had unauthorized use of photographs since we've had photographs. It's much easier to go after somebody who uses pictures for clearly commercial purposes, but once you get outside of the commercial realm, when you're talking about political or artistic expression, in this country we get a lot more reluctant to intervene," Grimmelmann said.

Not all photo meming is tragic and not all sharers are evil-doers. Some subjects or initiators take it as good fun, embracing — or trying to, at least — their accidental Internet celebrity.

Nearly three years ago, Kasey Woods in Waldorf, Maryland, put up a photo of her smiley baby daughter in a pink top and huge afro wig that was left over from Halloween. Woods posted it first to Facebook, when her page was set to public, then put the same image on her public Instagram feed a year later.

Friends started alerting her last year that the photo was catching on. It continues to pop up at least two or three times a week somewhere, including one version with a caption that reads: "Have a Blacknificent Day."

The image has been liked, shared and commented upon several thousand times. Some comments Woods has read have not been kind and she has since locked down her Facebook page.

"Some people are bashing me for being a bad mother because they think that's her hair every day. It's pretty intense with, 'What kind of mother would put a child in a wig?' and this and that," she said. "I'm taking it well because her name wasn't attached to it."

Clarinet Boy, aka PTSD Clarinet Boy, was all grown up when he innocently enough submitted to Awkwardfamilyphotos.com an old school picture. He's in a marching band uniform and there's a double exposure, a full-body image of himself, projected onto the side of his head in the same uniform as he holds a clarinet.

That was 2009. It was titled "A Beautiful Mind" and the site encouraged readers to guess what he might have been thinking. So they did. The image of the redheaded boy made its way around the Internet and onto meme generator sites, including one that came up with stories in captions of Vietnam War vets suffering from post-traumatic stress, looking back on childhood.

"I left for Vietnam as a boy. I came back as a monster," reads one.

No one knows exactly how many versions are out there, but it's many thousands, as opposed to millions for other memes. Mike Bender, co-founder of Awkwardfamilyphotos, said he and his partner know the real Clarinet Boy.

"He's a teacher in Texas," Bender said. "His students think he's a hero."

Sam Miguel
01-14-2016, 03:02 PM
When trolls and propagandists occupy the Internet

There is a lot of manipulation happening online. The Internet has transformed into a lawless arena where gladiators compete for our likes, shares, eyeballs, clicks.

Senator Bam Aquino

Published 11:28 AM, January 14, 2016

Updated 11:28 AM, January 14, 2016

My name is Bambi and I am a young street dancer awakened by the twerking movement of the 70s… That is, according to Wikipedia before we changed the text back to my true, albeit less vivacious, biography.

Apparently, I have what is now known as an Internet troll changing my Wikipedia page regularly.

My troll made me a Ninja Turtle a few times in the past and, though that is extremely flattering, I unfortunately don’t have the martial arts skills to back it up.

In the curious case of Bam’s Wikipedia page, the untruth is so outrageous that it’s clearly unbelievable.

But in other cases, it is not so easy to distinguish fact from fiction or, dare I say, propaganda.

These days, there are people whose job is to sway public opinion on social media, whether it’s a strategic communications campaign or a swarm of troll accounts flooding a comments section.

While creativity and innovation in marketing and communications is more than welcome, untruth and ill intentions are not easily detected.

The biggest phenomena of the Internet age, social media and search engines, incorporate paid advertising to the user experience and now, money can buy eyeballs as well as people to produce bots and troll accounts to post, like, share, and comment incessantly. Click on a regular troll on any popular Facebook page and you may find him or her lacking a true identity.

Online manipulation

This is a difficult pill to swallow when a large part of me prefers to engage people who genuinely agree or disagree, and are not being paid to do so.

There is a lot of manipulation happening online.

A far cry from the free marketplace of ideas that we envisioned the Internet to be, it has transformed into a lawless arena where gladiators compete for our likes, shares, eyeballs, clicks, and money by whatever means possible.

When we first discovered the World Wide Web, people celebrated the idea that anyone and everyone could use it as a venue to speak out, to share information, to formulate opinions and generate insightful discussions.

We found a space without propaganda or advertising, free from the control and influence of powerful politicians and wealthy businesses.

Today, what we have is a battleground of messages ceaselessly pushing us to buy a product, watch a video, share a meme, or vote for a particular candidate.

The boon and the bane of the Internet is the freedom it provides. Anyone can share information and go viral like the Al-Dub phenomenon and our DOTA2 related post about Team Rave that was shared 3,445 times!

This freedom also allows anyone to mask lies as truth and post it a hundred times from a hundred different accounts until it worms into your psyche.

Campaign season

So how do we take back the Internet?

Should we look at regulation to control trolling or do we leave it up to the websites to ban abusive language and verify identities?

Do we just tune out when confronted with abrasive comments, potentially ignoring opposing ideas that are worth our consideration?

Do we doubt everything we see online and limit our network to a curated circle, wasting the potential of an open, diverse, unpredictable debate?

Will we end up restricting our use of the Internet to that of self-expression?

How do we take the Internet back from the paid trolls and propagandists, especially during the campaign season where candidates have the machinery to invade both traditional and social media?

In our case, we take back our Wikipedia page by checking it everyday and updating it as often as possible. Perhaps, as users, more diligence is required when absorbing information.

Maybe there is a need to evolve our thinking – to be more analytical, to sift through the barrage of messages on the World Wide Web before we come to our own conclusions.

Bambi’s fearless forecast? The more trolls and propagandists attempt to take the Internet away from us, the more we will put up our own filters, exclude them from our circles, take their comments with a pinch of salt and heaps of humor, and find ways to generate free and open spaces for genuine dialogue and exchange of ideas. – Rappler.com

Senator Bam Aquino is the youngest Senator of the 16th Congress of the Philippines. With 6 laws under his belt, he has actively pushed for cheaper and faster Internet in the Philippines and is among the 50 Most Influential Filipinos Online according to Rogue Magazine. Connect with Sen. Bam on Facebook and Twitter - @bamaquino!

01-20-2017, 09:35 AM

How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News


One day in late November, an earth and environmental science professor named Nathan Phillips visited Breitbart News for the first time. Mr. Phillips had heard about the hateful headlines on the site ? like ?Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy? ? and wondered what kind of companies would support such messages with their ad dollars. When he clicked on the site, he was shocked to discover ads for universities, including one for the graduate school where he?d received his own degree ? Duke University?s Nicholas School of the Environment. ?That was a punch in the stomach,? he said.

Why would an environmental science program want to be promoted on a site that denies the existence of climate change? Mr. Phillips figured ? correctly ? that Duke officials did not know where their ads were appearing, so he sent a tweet to Duke about its association with the ?sexist racist? site. Eventually, after a flurry of communication with the environment department, he received a satisfying resolution ? an assurance that its ads would no longer show up on Breitbart.

Mr. Phillips had just engaged in a new form of consumer activism, one that is rewriting the rules of online advertising. In the past month and a half, thousands of activists have started to push companies to take a stand on what you might call ?hate news? ? a toxic mix of lies, white-supremacist content and bullying that can inspire attacks on Muslims, gay people, women, African-Americans and others.

In mid-November, a Twitter group called Sleeping Giants became the hub of the new movement. The Giants and their followers have communicated with more than 1,000 companies and nonprofit groups whose ads appeared on Breitbart, and about 400 of those organizations have promised to remove the site from future ad buys.

The advertising world is vast. Although the big brands, for PR reasons, may redirect their ad dollars, there are many advertisers who covet...

?We?re focused on Breitbart News right now because they?re the biggest fish,? a founder of Sleeping Giants told me. (He requested anonymity because some members of the group work in the digital-media industry.) Eventually, Sleeping Giants would like to broaden its campaign to take on a menagerie of bad actors, but that would require a much bigger army of Giants, and ?it has only been a month since we started doing this,? he told me when I talked to him in December. Then he added, ?This has been the longest month of my life.?

He said that he noticed something had gone wrong with internet ads in November when, just out of curiosity, he visited Breitbart News. Like Mr. Phillips, he was gobsmacked by what he found there. His version of Breitbart was plastered with the logos of Silicon Valley brands that courted tech-savvy, pro-diversity millennials. ?I couldn?t believe that these progressive companies were paying Breitbart News,? he said.

So he created a Twitter account called Sleeping Giants that would allow him and his fellow activists to anonymously interact with advertisers. Then they sent screenshots to companies like Chase, SoFi and Audi to prove that their ads appeared next to offensive content. Within hours, they received their first response, and they realized that they had stumbled across a potentially powerful tactic.

?We are trying to stop racist websites by stopping their ad dollars,? reads the Sleeping Giants profile. ?Many companies don?t even know it?s happening. It?s time to tell them.? They say it?s not about taking away Breitbart?s right to free speech, but about giving consumers and advertisers control over where their money goes. The group?s Twitter page offers a simple set of instructions to anyone who wants to follow suit. Step 1: ?Go to Breitbart and take a screenshot of an ad next to some of their content.? Step 2: ?Tweet the screenshot to the company with a polite, nonoffensive note.?

The activists? back-and-forth with companies reveals a fog of confusion surrounding online advertising. Many organizations have no idea that their ads may end up next to content they find abhorrent.

You might blame this ? in part ? on robots. According to the research firm eMarketer, American companies are now spending more than $22 billion a year on ?programmatic ads,? the kind of advertising that is bought with little human oversight. Joshua Zeitz, vice president of corporate communications at the ad-tech company AppNexus, explained to me how this automated ad buying works. When you click on a link, ?in less than a second, a call goes out, and algorithms and automated software bid in an auction to put their advertisement up on your page,? he said. ?So maybe the Nabisco algorithm wants to put an ad up there; so does Macy?s and so does Honda.? The algorithm that places the highest bid wins the chance to appear on your screen.

Programmatic ads can also follow individuals around the internet, based on their browsing history, as happened with Mr. Philips. A single targeted ad could cost just a fraction of a penny, but the pennies add up to a billion-dollar industry.

Even when ad placements are automated, companies still have the power to control whether neo-Nazis or fake news hucksters profit. In fact, it?s actually rather simple for companies to impose ethical policies, according to Mr. Zeitz. Indeed, his own company (which handles programmatic advertising for other organizations) recently decided to get out ahead of the issue by removing Breitbart News from its advertising marketplace. ?We?re not banning them because they?re alt-right or conservative. We banned them from our marketplace because they violate our hate speech policy, which prohibits ad serving on sites that incite violence and discrimination against minority groups.? (Breitbart has said that it condemns racism and bigotry ?in any form.?)

He pointed out that brand-name companies had already figured out how to keep their ads from flowing onto porn sites, because ?you really don?t want your ad for a breakfast cereal next to a hard-core pornographic video,? and so ?there are tools in place that allow companies to control where their ads go.? A company can block a specific site like Breitbart News from its ad buy. Or it might pick a ?white list? of sites that align with its values.

01-20-2017, 09:36 AM
(Continued from above)

But to do that, companies would have to forgo the sites designed to deliver exactly what they want ? a big audience for little cost. In November, NPR reporters interviewed Jestin Coler about his fake-news empire. Mr. Coler and his team stage-crafted their sites to look like local newspapers and then planted fantastical headlines and fictional stories that attracted more than a million views. Though the news was fake, the ads were real. Mr. Coler wouldn?t tell the reporters exactly how much he made off advertising, but he intimated that his revenues ranged between $10,000 and $30,000 a month.

Such ?entrepreneurs? have an outsize influence on our political sphere. BuzzFeed News reported that, during the last three months of the election, hoax stories outperformed real ones on social media. Thanks to people enthusiastically sharing pro-Trump headlines cooked up by clickbait farms, in the bizarro-world of online advertising, the fake can be more profitable than the real.

Ezra Englebardt, an advertising strategist, joined the Sleeping Giants campaign because he believes it creates much-needed transparency in the online advertising world. When lots of people share photos of the ads that they?re seeing on their own screens, it becomes possible to get some sense of where the ad dollars go, he said.

Still, the post-truth reality makes it difficult to measure the scope of the problem. Breitbart?s editor in chief told Bloomberg that despite these bans, his company ?continues to experience exceptional growth.? However, public Twitter communications and news accounts prove that advertisers are indeed fleeing the site.

More important, the screenshot activists are forcing companies to pick a side. After pressure from consumers, Kellogg?s became one of the first big brands to announce that it would remove its ads from Breitbart News. In retaliation, Breitbart called for a boycott, and the cereal brand seems to have suffered from the uproar on social media. At the same time, it received lots of good press for taking its stand; in early December, many consumers announced that they would reward the company by making all-Kellogg?s donations to soup kitchens.

I expected that other companies would want to trumpet their own Breitbart departures. It seemed an easy win for corporate P.R. to distance itself from Klan-rally-like riffs like this one ? ?every tree, every rooftop, every picket fence, every telegraph pole in the South should be festooned with the Confederate battle flag.? (Telegraph poles!?)

But when I reached out to several organizations that seemed to have joined the ban, they didn?t want to talk about it. A bank and a nonprofit group did not respond to my queries. Two companies ? 3M and Zappos ? declined to talk about the matter. A Patagonia spokeswoman said that her company did not advertise on white-supremacist sites ? but she would not comment on the screenshots that activists had sent to Patagonia in early December showing the company?s logo on Breitbart?s Facebook page. Warby Parker was the most forthcoming; a representative pointed me to a statement that thanked a Twitter activist for inspiring its own ban on Breitbart.

In the behavior of some of these companies, you can detect the way our norms have already shifted. In the old normal, it would have cost little to stand up against neo-Nazi slogans. But in the new normal, doing so might involve angering key players in the White House, including the president-elect, Donald J. Trump, who has hired the former editor of Breitbart as his senior adviser. Mr. Trump recently proved the damage he could do to a company by criticizing Lockheed Martin on Twitter; soon after, its stocks prices tumbled.

Still, a new consumer movement is rising, and activists believe that where votes failed, wallets may prevail. This struggle is about much more than ads on Breitbart News ? it?s about using corporations as shields to protect vulnerable people from bullying and hate crimes.

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Nicholas Reville, a board member of the Participatory Culture Foundation who has worked with the Sleeping Giants, pointed out that businesses benefited from embracing diversity: ?You have to be inclusionary if you?re going to try to sell to a very large audience.? And he pointed out that consumer activism might be especially effective because so many people feel they have no other way to express their opposition to Trump-ian values.

The founder of Sleeping Giants agreed. ?It?s scary to say it, but maybe companies will have to be the standard-bearers for morals right now,? he said. He added that most corporations embrace policies (on paper at least) that prohibit racist bullying and sexual intimidation. Even if President Trump flouts these rules, corporations may continue to uphold them. ?We?ve all seen employee handbooks where they have codes of behavior,? he said. ?Maybe that?s all we have to fall back on now.?

Sam Miguel
02-08-2017, 08:12 AM
Debunking lies about Rappler

We fact-check some of the lies and disinformation being spread about Rappler


Published 4:08 PM, February 07, 2017

Updated 11:16 PM, February 07, 2017

MANILA, Philippines ? Social media feeds are flooded with disinformation ? half-truths fabricating alternative realities. Rappler has been the subject of recent waves of distorted stories.
No matter how often we are attacked, we will not stop reporting the truth, debunking falsehoods, and exposing disinformation. In the same way we fact-check stories daily, we will correct fake news about our organization.

LIE #1: ?Rappler is misrepresenting itself in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document.?

In the General Information Sheet (GIS) we filed with the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), we have correctly and consistently stated our business purpose: "To operate news, information and social network service."

A blogsite, however, selectively uploaded parts of the documents to make it appear that Rappler did not disclose the nature of its business. Specifically being spread on social media is the page that says Rappler's industry classification is that of "Other Monetary Intermediation."

a. Look at the encircled space. When a company submits its GIS, that space is left blank for the SEC to fill. In our case, SEC made an error when it classified us under ?Other Monetary Intermediation.? We will call the commission's attention to this error.

b. This is the page of the GIS that asks whether the company is a "covered person" under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). After we ticked "No," we also marked all the succeeding items "not applicable." The item asking to "describe nature of business" was inadvertently carried over from a template provided by our lawyers. We do not do "Property Investment and Development." This will be corrected.

Neither of these minor errors impact our mission, operations, or the taxes we pay.

We ask our readers to read documents thoroughly and not be misled by tidbits of information.

LIE #2: ?Rappler is bankrupt.?

In the past, it took about 10 years for news groups, at least in the Philippines, to break even. But technology has made it faster for us and the rest to grow in a shorter period of time.

Beginning in 2016, Rappler has had months of positive net income.

Thanks to our readers, partners, and advertisers, we continue to surpass the growth rate of traditional media.

LIE #3: Because Rappler has international investors through PDRs, ?they?re skirting the Constitution!?

Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) do not indicate ownership. This means our foreign investors, Omidyar Network and North Base Media, do not own Rappler. They invest, but they don?t own. Rappler remains 100% Filipino-owned.

What are PDRs? These are financial tools that individuals or entities can use to invest in a company they believe in. Their involvement is limited to financial investment. They neither get voting rights on the Board nor have a say in the management or day-to-day operations of the company.

Issuing PDRs isn?t as unique or rare as some would like you to believe. This is the same case with large media groups in the Philippines.

We have made all the public disclosure filings for the PDRs issued by Rappler Holdings. Feel free to access our financial records, which are publicly available. (For more about PDRs and startups, read Oscar Tan's Inquirer column and Oliver Segovia's blog.)

Sam Miguel
02-08-2017, 08:13 AM

LIE #4: “Rappler has no ethics.”

We found no basis for the ethics complaint of a blogger. The story is about Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, an accountable public official.

The rest of the story is a reporting of factual accounts, including the public cursing and crude behavior online of the bloggers cited in the story. These are all publicly viewable and embedded from Facebook. Links to previous stories were also provided for background and context about the #LeniLeaks issue.

LIE #5: “Rappler is anti-Duterte.” “Why only report pro-Duterte activities and harassment on social media?”

We are neither pro- nor anti-Duterte; we are pro-truth and pro-people.

Rappler reports on President Rodrigo Duterte the way our veteran journalists have reported on leaders for the past 30 years. We hold our government accountable to the people.

Ironically, we were criticized for being "pro-Duterte" during the presidential campaign. We accept these as signs of our highly polarized times.

Our October series on the social media propaganda machine focused on pro-Duterte activity because these were the accounts which created what we would define as a machine:

It had scaled to reach millions of Filipinos

It had systematized operations into an art

In short, it was far more successful than any attempts to counteract it – of which we saw very little, except for half-hearted efforts and real-world arguments between political camps.

LIE #6: “Bloggers have higher engagement rates so they're beating news.”

It's not all about engagement. Political advocacy pages of bloggers defend and propagate the position of a person or an institution. They are not the same as news.

News seeks to inform the public on a wide range of issues to allow them to make decisions on their own. This means news groups will post as many relevant stories as needed, whether or not they go viral.

Engagement is measured by likes, reactions, and shares. Facebook measures engagement rate this way: ER = [(# of interactions in a given day) / total # of followers that day] x 100.

However, engagement rate is just one of the metrics news groups use to measure performance. What matters more to us is the impact of our work on policy and the lives of people here and abroad.

How do we tell truth from lies?

The increase in the targeted and non-stop harassment of our reporters and organization will not stop us from pursuing stories to hold public and private sectors accountable. We remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue the truth and be transparent to the public we serve.

Rappler has joined local and international fact-checking networks and will soon ask our communities to be part of the effort.

We ask that our readers be aware of the spread of disinformation and propaganda. We pledge to continue to expose these hidden social media "machines" distorting the truth. But we need your help.

Be vigilant against false information. Join healthy debates but do not condone harassment and name-calling.

Before you share, make sure you read thoroughly and that the content comes from reputable sources. Call out fake news when you see it. Do not allow yourself to be used to spread propaganda.

Push for a safe space where debates can thrive (#NoPlaceForHate). Speak up when you see lies (#InspireCourage).

If we want change, it has to come from us. Only then can we move the country forward. – Rappler.com

01-15-2018, 02:21 PM
From The Atlantic ...

Facebook Finally Blinks

Mark Zuckerberg's radical decision to reinvent the News Feed is a plea for mercy.

Stephen Lam / Reuters

Mark Zuckerberg moved fast and broke shit, lots of shit.

He broke journalism, by radically deflating the value of the digital advertising on which the livelihood of media now depends; he broke the reading habits of his users, the lab rats in his grand experiment, by constantly manipulating them and feeding them an endless stream of dreck to jack up their “engagement” with his site; and in a way, he broke American democracy, by sitting on his hands as a foreign adversary exploited his platform and by creating the world’s most efficient vehicle for spreading political lies and agitprop. Now, with the announcement that he’s largely stripping the News Feed of news, he's breaking his own site, too.

This radical overhaul of Facebook is a concession of defeat. At some point in Facebook-s rise - its march past the 2-billion-user mark - the realization dawned: Facebook is now the most powerful publisher in the business, the mother of all media gatekeepers. Initially, that realization dawned on everybody except apparently Facebook itself, perhaps a willed state of ignorance. The company described its product as a mere "tool," and protested that it played no role in organizing the news that it broadcasts, as if it weren't imposing its values on the News Feed, as if is weren't providing a sense of hierarchy to the mass of posts it splays. That description, which trumpeted Facebook’s passivity and neutrality, could never really sustain close scrutiny. And after the election of Donald Trump, Facebook has received no end of that.

But Mark Zuckerberg has always touted his own agility, his ability to overhaul his site when epiphany strikes. In the aftermath of election, in the face of so much biting criticism, Facebook began to describe itself quite differently. The company finally acted as if it might assume the responsibilities implied by its power - it feinted as if it would soon train its algorithms to make strong editorial judgments about the news, about the credibility of the stories it broadcast. It would begin sorting the fake stuff from the objective reality.

In a way, this was a satisfying change in policy. Fake news is a genuine scourge, so it made sense for Facebook to substantively address it. But there was an obvious danger in Facebook imitating a traditional media company. By design, Facebook published the opinions of its users. And it's uncomfortable to make objective judgments about opinion. No Facebook user wants to believe that they are sharing fake news. And presumably Facebook has no interest in telling its loyal users that their political preferences are founded in lies and garbage assumptions.

There was a further wrinkle to Facebook's problem. The company describes its mission as connecting the world. As it happens, the world includes many authoritarian governments. If the company began to cull opinions, if it began to excise content on the basis of its truthfulness, then it would lose its best defense against dictatorial pressure. Governments would want Facebook to shut down dangerous lines of conversation. But Facebook has resisted those pressures, by striking its non-judgmental pose. A shift in policy, the assumption of hefty new responsibilities, would provide an opportunity for the worst rulers in the world to come begging Facebook to eliminate the "lies" spread by dissidents.

There's no undoing the damage that Facebook has caused over the last few years. Still, Mark Zuckerberg has made a noble decision, to carry his company back towards its roots as a true "social network," largely stripped of journalism and political propaganda. Facebook will be back primarily in the business of making us feel terrible about the inferiority of our vacations, the relative mediocrity of our children, teasing us into sharing more of our private selves. Still, the social tolls of Facebook-induced status anxiety are far less than political tolls of Facebook-reinforced filter bubbles. So, credit to Mark Zuckerberg. He's made a decision that might adversely impact his revenue for the sake of the common good. And even if it's still not possible to laud him as a great humanitarian, he deserves approbation for displaying sufficient humility and self-awareness to back down and back away.

Zuckerberg will find it painful that he won’t get the full praise he might believe that he deserves. During the coming days, he will find himself on the receiving end of media hostility. There will be many in media who will bemoan the capriciousness of his decision. And there will be some justice in their complaints.

Facebook has encouraged media to become dependent on it. When Facebook asked media to create Instant Articles, it submitted. When Facebook encouraged media to throw resources behind the production of short videos, media obeyed and shuffled precious editorial dollars into the pursuit. And now after monkeying with media, after exploiting media’s abject reliance on it, Facebook has essentially told media to kiss off. By downgrading journalism in his News Feed, he’s choking off a stream of traffic, and, therefore, choking off a stream of revenue.

Media will feel the sting, but it's for the best. And on some level, media knows it. The hostile coverage of Silicon Valley these past few months reflects a certain psychodrama. For years, media has resented its dependence on Facebook and Google, yet it suppressed any vitriolic sentiments. These companies carried such cultural prestige, and media felt so enslaved to them, that it broadly restrained their venting of their complaints. With the election of Trump, all of media's pent-up rage came pouring into the opinion. It was suddenly acceptable to bash these companies. Every day, the big newspapers seemed to publish a new critical expose of them.

But instead of clobbering Facebook one more time, media should now thank it. Facebook has just done media the biggest favor of them all. It has forced media to face the fact that digital advertising and ever-growing web traffic will never sustain the industry, especially if that traffic comes from monopolies like Facebook hoping to claim the entirety of digital advertising dollars for themselves. Media can't deny this, but it doesn't want to sustain the pain and heartbreak that comes with transition; and it's reluctant to let go of the notion that it might exploit Facebook to achieve global scale. Now, Zuckerberg has broken that too - and freed media from a delusion that it should have discarded long ago.

04-04-2018, 08:39 AM

By: Michael L. Tan - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:09 AM April 04, 2018

There’s a quiet cultural revolution going on in offices throughout the country involving the very way we think and has involved an audit, not of numbers, but of all kinds of procedures and technologies.

I thought long and hard about a short title for my column that would describe what this cultural revolution is all about and settled on that one word, “confidential,” which is the way we used to handle matters, mainly around correspondence. For large offices, you would write or stamp “Confidential” on a document and seal it well before passing it on. To some extent that’s still being done today, sometimes with almost ridiculous but ineffective zeal.

Look at the mail you’re getting at home and you’ll find many are still stapled in a way that you have to remove the staple wire first before opening the envelope or you risk ripping through the document inside, which might be a check, now mangled and could be rejected by the bank when you want to deposit it.

The other way documents were “secured” was to tape it end to end. Being on the receiving end of so many of these documents, I would tell my staff to call the sender and politely complain about how they have mummified the document, making it practically impossible to open.

Now comes a law that could either worsen, or rationalize, the way we handle confidential information. The full name of that law would take an entire paragraph so I will just use the short one, the Data Privacy Act of 2012. It took some years to get a bureaucracy going together with implementing rules and regulations, all to ensure the protection of personal information in all of the country’s offices.

Overseeing this gargantuan task is a National Privacy Commission, which has been pressing hard on institutions to establish data protection offices that will ensure that all sensitive personal information is secured, and not just by stamping “confidential” and stapling or mummifying documents.

Call centers and data

The law was actually forced upon us by the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, which employed 1.3 million Filipinos last year and still counting. Most of them are in the contact subsector, better known as call centers and they have access to all kinds of sensitive information provided not just by Filipinos but residents of countries throughout the world. Remember the last time you wanted to clarify a credit card billing which you think was mistaken and how they asked you about everything from your mother’s maiden name to the last credit transaction you had.

Think of all the forms you’ve had to fill out over the years. To get some kind of insurance, for example, you may have been asked to submit to a full medical checkup where you were asked all kinds of questions about the causes of death in your family, and your own existing illnesses, surgical procedures … all the way up to your sex life: how many people have you had sex with, were they male or female, and what kind of sex did you have?

All that information is stored in computer databases.

Educational institutions have all kinds of sensitive data. I’m thinking of two offices in particular. There’s the health service’s medical records, and there’s the registrar, which still has the “jackets” — enrollment forms and, until recently, grades—of each and every person who has ever enrolled in UP, whether you finished or not. Diliman, being the main campus, has files that go back more than a century. I have a feeling many UP alumni would worry more about their grades, rather than their medical records, being kept private.

The new law spells out penalties, including imprisonment, for leaking out sensitive personal information. Hold your breath as I mention some of them: “race, ethnic origin, marital status, age, color and religion, philosophical or political affiliation,” “health, education, genetics or sexual life,” “offenses committed or alleged to have been committed,” “social security, current health records, licenses or its denials, tax returns.”

Each of those items could be further broken down when you think of what “sensitive” can mean. Under this law, we cannot provide the grades of a student to anyone, not even the parents, if the student has reached legal age (18) and unless signed consent is given.


The reason I said all this involves a cultural revolution is that the idea of data privacy is almost nonexistent in our culture. The norm is to share information. Have a crush on someone and want to send a gift on his or her birthday? No problem, everyone knows what office and who in that office can get you that information.

Birthdays seem relatively benign but think hard about it and you might be opening the doors to unwanted attention.

Salaries are another example, a source of a lot of resentment within an office, so in UP Diliman we are now banishing the days of open pay slips. Instead, the pay slips come in an encrypted envelope, like the ones banks give you when you get a new ATM card with a password.

Medical records are particularly sensitive. For years now, as dean and then as chancellor, I’ve had to sign all applications for reimbursement of medical expenses and I’ve always been uncomfortable at how the papers go through several offices and personnel, with all kinds of sensitive information. Culture comes into the picture with people, often with the best of intentions, telling friends, “Did you know Professor xxx has cancer? Maybe we can help raise funds for her.”

Golden rule

In other cases, malicious intentions may come in. It’s been so tiring having to respond to anonymous “sumbong” (whistleblowing) made to the government’s hotline, with distorted information that clearly came from access to official files in government agencies, questioning everything from bonuses to an out-of-town conference and often out of a desire for character assassination rather than a concern over corruption. The Filipino term “maiinit na mata” (hot eyes) is an appropriate description of the sources of data breaches.

“Data breach” is a term that will make it into our vocabularies as the Data Privacy Act is implemented and the breach is fairly easy given that so much information is now stored in computer databases. The Data Privacy Act requires that the databases are secured, requiring layers of passwords and security measures, but even the best of systems will still be heavily challenged by culture, to the point where we may have to require all staff—secretaries, receptionists, even drivers — to sign nondisclosure agreements, meaning they are bound by law not to give out sensitive information, not just from computers and documents but from meetings and even conversations.

But more than nondisclosure agreements, we will have to look for other ways to tackle cultural attitudes to privacy. It will mean, for example, reminding someone during a conversation that they just named someone and gave away sensitive information about that person. It will mean, too, periodic meetings discussing data privacy and breaches and the foundation of it all, the golden rule: Do not do unto others what you do not want done to you.

04-05-2018, 12:01 PM
Digital privacy vs public security

By: Drexx D. Laggui - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:10 AM September 11, 2016

THE #WarOnDrugs has reached a crescendo now that President Duterte has issued Proclamation No. 55 declaring a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.

According to open-source reports, elements of the illegal drug trade have stepped up their battle against the government by establishing a partnership with terrorists and kidnap-for-ransom organizations in their efforts to distract or discourage law enforcers from doing their jobs. The bombing of a Davao City night market on Sept. 2 is a heinous sample of their criminal synergy.

Criminals today have the advantage

The #WarOnDrugs is not easy. The numbers are not in favor of our government. The 2015 Annual Report of the Philippine National Police revealed a volume of 201,010 for index crime, and 474,803 for nonindex crime, for a total of 675,813 reported crimes to the police alone.

Index crimes include reports of crime against persons like murder, physical injury and rape, as well as crimes against property, such as robbery, theft, car theft and even cattle rustling. Nonindex crimes include illegal drug use, cybercrime, physical injury and damage to property.

With regards to drug-related cases, conviction rates of criminal cases over the past five years have been poor, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. In 2015, there were 43,462 cases but only 782 convictions for a 2-percent success rate.

What is not widely publicized is that when a serious crime has been committed, every law enforcer knows that he has 48 hours to have solid leads, suspects or arrests by that time. Otherwise, the chances of solving the crime drop by half.

To add to the challenge, there are now some 101 million Filipinos. Combining all law enforcement and military personnel and all those from other government agencies, there are only about 400,000 of them.

In contrast, according to the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are roughly 1.7 million Filipinos engaged in illicit drug use. That’s 425 percent more than the number of our law enforcers and peace officers.

Rethink crime fighting

The time has come for our country to rethink the state’s crime-fighting processes and the tools required to support it. Our government needs to step back and see the big picture, to think unconventionally against enterprising criminals.

Criminals have come to be as progressive as commercial businesses in adopting technology to improve their capabilities, to be more effective and efficient in the conduct of their crimes.

For example, criminals have used the internet to conduct surveillance operations against their targets to plan out their crimes, as well as assess the net worth of victims and drug users if they are profitable targets or not.

Wikimapia or Google Maps can give criminals the ability to assess escape routes or vulnerabilities of bank branches or homes of kidnap victims, while Facebook or Instagram or Twitter can yield great information about the lifestyle patterns, family and friends, or the financial capacity of the victims. Waze can even give them the fastest escape route from the crime scene.

Most important for the criminals, however, is for technology’s ability to enable them to conspire invisibly with their members. Criminals have exploited technology to plan, communicate and commit a crime in the virtual world, meeting each other without the risk of physical presence and even share their profits, all online.

Technology: secret weapon of the state

Fortunately, technology can work for the law enforcers, too. The 101 million Filipinos have 110 million mobile devices.

Find the phone, find the criminal.

Nothing is more personal to the criminal than his or her mobile phone. The mobile phone knows more about each individual, about his secret lives more than he would care to admit, or more than what his friends or families know. A mobile phone tracks one’s activity, location, his relationship with friends or family or victims, his favorite food, political affiliation, likes or dislikes, his fears or fantasies, gender or sexual preferences, health, spending habits, travels, comments to friends and families that reveal his sentiments and social influence, his cars and home, or his fortunes and misfortunes, and can collect them all as big data.


Analyzing big data involves a process called psychometrics, enabling the measurement of mental traits, abilities and processes of the person.

Finding the phone to find the criminal means that there needs to be a continuous observation of a criminal in a place, the person or group that he or she interacts with, or any ongoing activity in order for the law enforcer to gather information about the criminal and the crime. Finding the phone means online surveillance and intelligence gathering.

04-05-2018, 12:02 PM
Vigilance for data privacy rights

The concept of using high-tech tools for online surveillance is scary for everybody and reasonably so. Edward Snowden expressed this in Reddit succinctly: “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different [from] saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

Online surveillance is not a new idea or initiative, however.

Section 12 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 provides for real-time collection of traffic data. “Law enforcement authorities, with due cause, shall be authorized to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system. Traffic data refer only to the communication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying service, but not content, nor identities.”

In February 2014, however, the Supreme Court struck down this provision for being unconstitutional. The court explained that online surveillance was not evil by itself, but rather, the law was unclear on what “due cause” meant and that may lead to the state abusing this power, and using it as a tool for general warrantless search against anybody and everybody.

The law has been thus interpreted to be enforceable only if there is a warrant issued “with specifity and definiteness” so that our law enforcers would not be given unlimited surveillance powers. The only thing waiting now is for a criminal investigation case to test this law. That will not be too far off from today.

The Supreme Court decision is consistent with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which declares that “it is the policy of the state to protect the fundamental human right of privacy, of communication while ensuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth.

“The state recognizes the vital role of information and communications technology in nation-building and its inherent obligation to ensure that personal information in information and communications systems in the government and in the private sector secured and protected.”

The Data Privacy Act applies to everyone, protecting “individual personal information in information and communications systems in the government and the private sector.”

At its core, this law prescribes appropriate jail time and fines for any violation against any person’s personal information, that “refers to any information whether recorded in a material form or not, from which the identity of an individual is apparent or can be reasonably and directly ascertained by the entity holding the information, or when put together with other information would directly and certainly identify an individual.”

Sensitive personal info

It goes even further by defining sensitive personal information and then prescribing even harsher penalties. Sensitive personal information includes anything:

About an individual’s race, ethnic origin, marital status, age, color and religious, philosophical or political affiliations

About an individual’s health, education, genetic or sexual life of a person, or any proceedings for any offense committed or alleged to have been committed by such person, the disposal of such proceedings, or the sentence of any court in such proceedings

Issued by government agencies peculiar to an individual which includes, but not limited to, social security numbers, health records, licenses or its denials, suspension or revocation and tax returns

Specifically established by an executive order or an act of Congress to be kept classified.

However, recognizing that no human right is absolute, this law also states that it does not apply to any private or sensitive information that is “necessary in order to carry out the functions of public authority which include the processing of personal data for the performance by the independent, central monetary authority and law enforcement and regulatory agencies of their constitutionally and statutorily mandated functions.”

Update antiwiretap law

Additionally, it is also interesting to monitor developments in today’s 17th Congress, specifically the five bills that have been separately filed by Senators Gregorio Honasan, Ping Lacson, Grace Poe and Sonny Angara. These seek to update Republic Act No. 4200, or the Anti-Wiretapping Law of 1965.

Their proposals are unified in using the force-multiplying power of technology to go after the criminals in drug-related cases and those charged with plunder, kidnapping, money-laundering, robbery, piracy, rebellion, treason, espionage, provoking war and sedition.

Privacy vs security and Equilibrium-Adjustment Theory

Obviously, zipping along the fine line between privacy and security will be challenging across an undefined and foggy cyberterrain.

To help the Philippines along, a navigational aid like the Theory of Equilibrium-Adjustment may be used by our government decision-makers. Back in 2011, professor Orin Kerr from George Washington University Law School proposed that a government balance the application of laws with the protection of human rights. This means that a government shall tighten or relax the law’s protections in response to changing technology and social acceptance.

When new technologies expand law enforcement’s capabilities, the law does (and should) respond by placing new controls on the government; when new technologies give criminals the advantage, the law does (and should) respond by loosening the government’s restraints.

Negative legal right

To complement the Theory of Equilibrium-Adjustment, the paradigm that the Data Privacy Act is just one of the regulators of our human right to privacy, must also be embraced. When one begins to realize that the law is a negative legal right (i.e. it explicitly says what we should not do with respect to the rights of another person), then one would also follow the realization that there are other previously unrecognized factors affecting our privacy rights and interests.

These structural constraints include economic and physical and technological barriers, and are associated with costs that act as nonlegal regulations. These factors are expressed by professor Harry Surden of Stanford Law School in his essay “Structural Rights in Privacy.”

New guide

Combining both legal ideas above in the context of Section 12 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act and that of the Data Privacy Act, a new guidance can be generated: If a proposed law enforcer’s online system for real-time collection of traffic data makes it too cheap (in terms of financial cost, social acceptance, technology and logical controls) for our government to collect investigation data, that otherwise would have been physically impossible or too expensive to do so, then the use of that high-tech system violates our expectations of privacy. Otherwise, it is all acceptable.

Defining and enforcing the privacy interests of the Philippines is not a one-time activity, but is a very dynamic and contentious process. To paraphrase, our country’s privacy interests is not a destination, but a journey.

Security vs security

Referring to the landmark February 2014 decision of the Supreme Court, one will realize that we are not looking at the question of privacy versus security after all. Rather, it’s actually a question of security versus security.

The question of security against criminals, or security against law enforcement abuse, maybe easier to answer. When law enforcers are empowered with “due cause” to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time, do you trust them that they have just reason or motive to do so?

That they will conduct their online surveillance with faithful adherence to a lawful procedure all the time? Are you hopeful that the operational risks against the abuse of the online surveillance system have proper countermeasures? Do you have confidence that the countermeasures against abuse are sufficient and correct all the time?

Until the answer is “yes” to all these questions, only then can the question of security versus security can be reliably answered.

([I]Drexx D. Laggui, principal consultant of Laggui & Associates Inc., conducts vulnerability assessment, internet preparation testing and computer forensics.)

04-25-2018, 09:37 AM
For the first time, Facebook spells out what it forbids

Associated Press / 07:30 PM April 24, 2018

NEW YORK - If you’ve ever wondered exactly what sorts of things Facebook would like you not to do on its service, you’re in luck. For the first time, the social network is publishing detailed guidelines to what does and doesn’t belong on its service – 27 pages worth of them, in fact.

So please don’t make credible violent threats or revel in sexual violence; promote terrorism or the poaching of endangered species; attempt to buy marijuana, sell firearms, or list prescription drug prices for sale; post instructions for self-injury; depict minors in a sexual context; or commit multiple homicides at different times or locations.

Facebook already banned most of these actions on its previous “community standards” page, which sketched out the company’s standards in broad strokes. But on Tuesday it will spell out the sometimes gory details.

The updated community standards will mirror the rules its 7,600 moderators use to review questionable posts, then decide if they should be pulled off Facebook. And sometimes whether to call in the authorities.

The standards themselves aren’t changing, but the details reveal some interesting tidbits. Photos of breasts are OK in some cases – such as breastfeeding or in a painting – but not in others.

The document details what counts as sexual exploitation of adults or minors, but leaves room to ban more forms of abuse, should it arise.

Since Facebook doesn’t allow serial murders on its service, its new standards even define the term. Anyone who has committed two or more murders over “multiple incidents or locations” qualifies.

But you’re not banned if you’ve only committed a single homicide. It could have been self-defense, after all.

Reading through the guidelines gives you an idea of how difficult the jobs of Facebook moderators must be. These are people who have to read and watch objectionable material of every stripe and then make hard calls – deciding, for instance, if a video promotes eating disorders or merely seeks to help people. Or what crosses the line from joke to harassment, from theoretical musing to direct threats, and so on.

Moderators work in 40 languages. Facebook’s goal is to respond to reports of questionable content within 24 hours. But the company says it doesn’t impose quotas or time limits on the reviewers.

The company has made some high-profile mistakes over the years. For instance, human rights groups say Facebook has mounted an inadequate response to hate speech and the incitement of violence against Muslim minorities in Myanmar.

In 2016, Facebook backtracked after removing an iconic 1972 Associated Press photo featuring a screaming, naked girl running from a napalm attack in Vietnam. The company initially insisted it couldn’t create an exception for that particular photograph of a nude child, but soon reversed itself, saying the photo had “global importance.”

Monica Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and counterterrorism, said the detailed public guidelines have been a long time in the works.

“I have been at this job five years and I wanted to do this that whole time,” she said.

Bickert said Facebook’s recent privacy travails, which forced CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify for 10 hours before Congress, didn’t prompt their release now.

The policy is an evolving document, and Bickert said updates go out to the content reviewers every week. Facebook hopes it will give people clarity if posts or videos they report aren’t taken down. Bickert said one challenge is having the same document guide vastly different “community standards” around the world.

What passes as acceptable nudity in Norway may not pass in Uganda or the US.

There are more universal gray areas, too.

For instance, what exactly counts as political protest? How can you know that the person in a photo agreed to have it posted on Facebook?

That latter question is the main reason for Facebook’s nudity ban, Bickert said, since it’s “hard to determine consent and age.” Even if the person agreed to be taped or photographed, for example, they may not have agreed to have their naked image posted on social media.

Facebook uses a combination of the human reviewers and artificial intelligence to weed out content that violates its policies. But its AI tools aren’t close to the point where they could pinpoint subtle differences in context and history – not to mention shadings such as humor and satire – that would let them make judgments as accurate as those of humans.

And of course, humans make plenty of mistakes themselves.

Sam Miguel
08-07-2018, 07:07 AM
The Companies Cleaning the Deepest, Darkest Parts of Social Media

We spoke to the documentary-makers behind 'The Cleaners,' the film about the people who take down content after you report it.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Every minute of every single day, 500 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube, 450,000 tweets are tweeted, and a staggering 2.5 million posts are posted to Facebook. We are drowning in content, and within all of that content, there's undoubtedly going to be a chunk deemed as offensive—stuff that's violent, racist, misogynistic, and so on—which gets reported.

But what happens once you've reported that content? Who takes care of the next steps?

Directors Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block have made a documentary exploring exactly that question, and the answer is much more depressing that you might have imagined. The Cleaners got its UK Premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June, so I caught up with the pair shortly after to discuss how social media organizations are cleaning up the internet at the cost of others' lives.

VICE: Tell me about what drew you to this subject and why you wanted to make a film on it.

Hans Block: In 2013, a child abuse video went on Facebook and we asked ourselves how this happened because that material is obviously out there in the world but not usually on social media sites. So we began to ask if people were filtering the web or curating what we see. We found out that there were thousands of humans doing the job every day in front of a screen, reviewing what we're supposed to see or not see. We learned that a lot of the work is outsourced to the developing world, and one of the main spots is Manila in the Philippines, and almost nobody knows about it.

We found out very quickly when trying to contact the workers that it's a very secretive industry, and the company tried to stop the workers from speaking out. The companies use a lot of private policies and screen the accounts of the workers to make sure that nobody is talking with outsiders. They even use code words. Whenever a worker is working for Facebook, they have to say they are working for the "honey badger project." There's a real atmosphere of fear and pressure because there are reprisals for the workers; they have to pay a €10,000 [$11,672] fee if they talk about what they're doing. It's written into their nondisclosure agreements. They even fear they will be put in jail.

But you managed to track down some workers and ex-workers, and gained their trust for the film. Are these guys moderating all content or just stuff that gets reported?

Moritz Riesewieck: There are two ways the content is forwarded to the Philippines. The first is a pre-filter, an algorithm, a machine that can analyze the shape of, say, a sexual organ, or the color of blood or certain skin color. So whenever the pre-filter is analyzing and it picks up on something that is inappropriate, the machine will send that content to the Philippines and the content moderators will double check if the machine was right. The second route is when the user flags the content as being inappropriate.

So this pre-filter algorithm is effectively capable of racial profiling people under the justification of what? Trying to detect terrorists or gangs?

Hans: We've been trying to work out exactly how this machine is working, and this is one of the big secrets the companies have. We don't know what the machine is trained for in terms of detecting content. There are obvious things like a gun or a naked sexual organ, but some of the moderators told us that skin color is being detected to pick up on things like terrorism, yes.

What happens when something is deleted? Is it just removed from the user who uploaded it or is it removed universally?

It is taken down universally. Although, in one case, it's different: child pornography. Whenever a content moderator is reviewing child pornography, they have to escalate this and then report the IP address, the location, and name of user—all the info they have, basically. This gets sent to a private organization in the states and they then analyze all the info and forward it onto the police.

Are the content moderators adequately trained? Both in understanding the context of what they are reviewing and also in terms of the significance that some of their decisions can have?

Moritz: I would say this is this biggest scandal about the topic because the workers are very young; they are 18 or 19 and have just left school. [The companies] are recruiting people from the street for these roles. They only request a very low profile of skills, which is basically being able to operate a computer. They are then given three to five days of training, and within that, they have to learn all the guidelines coming from Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc. There are hundreds of examples they have to learn. For example, they have to memorize 37 terror organizations—all their flags, the uniform, the sayings—all in three to five days. They then have to give the guidelines back to the company because they are afraid someone will leak them.

Another horrible fact is that the workers only have a few seconds to decide. To fulfill the quota of 25,000 images a day, that means they have three to five seconds on each. You're not able to analyze the text of an image or thoroughly make sure you're making the right decision when you have to review so much content. When you click, you then have another ten options to click based on the reason for deletion—nudity, terrorism, self-harm, etc. They then use the labeling of the content moderators to train the algorithm. Facebook is working very hard to train AI to do the job in the future.

So the workers are providing the training to an algorithm that will eventually take their own job?

Hans: It won't be possible for AI to do that kind of job because they can analyze what is in the picture, but what is necessary is reading the context, to interpret what you are seeing. If you see someone fighting, it could be a scene from a play or a film. This sort of thing is something a machine will never be capable of.

Are the workers trained for the severity and trauma of what they are going to see—death, abuse, child pornography, etc?

Moritz: They are not trained for that. There is one moderator in the film who, only on her first day, after training and signing the contract, properly realized what she was doing there. She ended up reviewing child pornography on her first day and said to the team leader she was unable to do this, and the response was, "You've signed the contract. It's your job to do that." There's no psychological preparation for them to do their work. They have a quarterly session where the whole team is brought into one room and a psychologist asks, "Does anyone have a problem?" Of course, everyone is looking at the ground and afraid to talk about their problems because they are afraid to lose their job. It's for a good reason that Facebook is outsourcing work to the Philippines because there's such a big social pressure attached: The salary is not just their own—it's often for their whole family, of up to eight to ten people. It's not easy to leave the job.

Sam Miguel
08-07-2018, 07:08 AM
^^^ (Continued)

What's the scale of the operation out there?

We can't know the exact amount, but we think that, for Facebook alone, it's around 10,000 people. If you then add in all the other companies that are outsourcing this work to the Philippines, it's around 100,000. It's a big, big industry.

Bias is something that is explored interestingly in the film. You have a content moderator who describes herself as a "sin preventer" and is very religious, while another person is very pro-President Rodrigo Duterte and his violent anti-crime and drugs stance. Are they imparting their personal views, politics, and ethics onto something that should be objective?

Hans: Whenever Facebook is asked a question about the guidelines, they try to promote that the guidelines are objective and that they can be executed by everyone. That's not true, and that's what the film is about. It's very important what kind of cultural background you have. There are so many areas in the guidelines that require you to interpret and use your gut feeling to decide about what you see.

Religion is a big part of the Philippines; Catholicism is very strong. The idea of sacrifice is crucial in their culture. The idea is that sacrificing yourself to get rid of the sins of the world will make it a better place. So, for a lot of the workers, it is viewed as a religious mission. They use religion to give the job meaning, and that helps them do it a bit longer, as when you're traumatized through work you need to find meaning. On a political level, Duterte is very strong there and people believe in what he is doing. Almost all the content moderators we spoke to were really proud he won the election. Some of the people see this work as an extension of his work, so they will just delete what they don't like in line with the country's political views.

All eyes are on Facebook at the moment post-Cambridge Analytica. How do you think things are going to pan out in the area of content moderation?

Moritz: Zuckerberg, whenever he is asked in a testimony, says he will hire another 20,000 people across the network on content safety. But this is not the solution. It's not about the number of workers—you can hire another 20,000 low-wage Filipino workers doing the job and it won't fix any problem with online censorship. What he needs to do is to hire really well-trained journalists. Facebook is not just a place to share vacation pictures or invite someone to your birthday anymore; it's the most major communication infrastructure in the world. More and more people are using Facebook to inform themselves, so it's very important who is deciding what is published. Think about if someone else decided what was published on the Guardian's front page tomorrow—that would be a disaster and it would be a scandal, but this is the status quo of the social media companies right now. This has to change, but this costs money, and the only goal of the company is to gain more money... that's why they hire low-wage workers in the Philippines.

Some of the moderation requests, such as terrorism, are even coming directly from the US government, right?

Absolutely. The list of terrorist organizations that have to be banned on Facebook comes from Homeland Security, but obviously, in different parts of the world, we have very different ideas of who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter. This is a lie that Facebook has always stated; that they are a neutral platform, and that they are just a technical tool for the user. It's not true; they are taking editorial decisions every day.

How did you find the people who had left this job were getting on? Are they forced into a silence or tracked or anything?

Hans: When we were researching, there was one moment when the [content moderation] company was taking photos of us and they were then distributed to everyone in the company—even the former workers—with a warning that talking to us will lead to them being in trouble. There's a really big atmosphere of fear that the company is spreading. One employee contacted us via Facebook, and he was really angry with us and telling us to leave the city, or something will happen to us. So even the former workers are still scared of speaking after leaving. We had lawyers on our team to protect them, however; we knew what was written into their contracts and what we could say in our film.

One of the greatest tragedies captured in the film is that it tells the story of a worker who died by suicide. As far as you're aware, was that an anomaly or is that happening on a larger scale and not being reported?

Moritz: It is a wider thing happening in the company. The suicide rate is very high. Whenever we spoke with content moderators, almost everyone knows about a case where someone committed suicide because of the work. It's a problem in the industry. That's why it was important to include that in our film. They need to hire proper psychologists to protect them. The man in question who took his own life worked in reviewing self-harm content and had asked to be removed from doing that several times.

Are these social media companies aware that people are killing themselves over this work, do you think?

Hans: Good question. Yes, I think they do know because we made the film, but this is also a problem with outsourcing; it's so easy for Facebook to say, "We don't know about that because it's not our company and we are not responsible because we don't hire them and we're not responsible for the working conditions." This is the price we, and Facebook, are paying for cleaning social media—people killing themselves. We have to pressure these companies as loudly as we can.

10-01-2019, 04:04 PM
From Wired ...

Is Boris Johnson really trying to game Google search results?

Could admissions around buses, kissing kippers and saying he’s the “model of restraint” really downplay negative search results? It's unlikely to be a longterm tactic

By Chris Stokel-Walker

Tuesday 1 October 2019

It has been a curious few months in politics, but one of the strangest theories being whispered on social media and in Westminster involves Boris Johnson’s increasingly odd proclamations.

In June, the prime minister admitted he paints old wine boxes into buses. In July, he brandished a kipper to incorrectly claim that EU rules were stifling the fishing industry. In September, he spoke in front of the police. And this week, he’s claimed he’s the “model of restraint” in the face of allegations he is using violent language to turn public opinion against opponents of Brexit.

One theory is that Johnson is trying to downplay negative news coverage of events by seeding news stories into Google search results by using similar phrases and key terms that are more positive. For instance – the hypothesis goes – by saying he was the “model of restraint”, Johnson was attempting to divert attention from stories detailing his alleged affair with former model Jennifer Arcuri, which became less visible in search results for “Boris Johnson model”.

His speech in front of the police was meant to distract from reports that the police were called to the flat he shared with girlfriend Carrie Symonds following an alleged domestic dispute, while the kipper incident was meant to downplay connections with UKIP (whose supporters are called kippers). The claim about painting buses, finally, was supposedly intended to reframe search results about the contentious claim that the UK sends £350 million to Europe branded on the side of the Brexit campaign bus.

“It’s a really simple way of thinking about it, but at the end of the day it’s what a lot of SEO experts want to achieve,” says Jess Melia of Parallax, a Leeds-based company that identified the theory with Johnson’s claim to paint model buses.

“With the amount of press he’s got going on around him, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone on his team is saying: ‘Just go and talk about something else and this is the word I want you to use’,” says Melia.

According to data gathered by Parallax, a Sky News story on Johnson’s claims to be the “model of restraint” had already risen to the third-most popular result for “Boris Johnson model” by 1:30pm on September 30. (He first made the comments on September 29). The marketing executive is undecided whether it’s a deliberate communications strategy. “Whether or not he’s doing it I can’t say,” she says. “But it is possible.”

Others are more sceptical. “It’s a very interesting part of the internet folklore, but I would be far away from saying he’s going to manipulate search by saying some ridiculous things,” says London-based SEO consultant Lukasz Zelezny. “It’s very unexpected, even from Boris Johnson, but manipulating Google search engine results by saying some ridiculous things is not easily done.” Google search results are far more complex than simply matching up keywords with news stories, he says.

10-01-2019, 04:05 PM
^ (Continued from above)

Jayne Rodgers, a lecturer at Teesside University who has analysed Google’s search algorithm, agrees. “There may well be some assumption that you can use phrases in different contexts that are going to influence what happens in Google searches, but that’s one facet of what Google search algorithm looks at. You’d have to work a lot harder behind the scenes to make that really effective.”

For one thing, Google search results are weighted towards behavioural factors and sentiment of those searching for terms – which would mean that such a strategy of polishing search results would be shortsighted. The individual nuances of each user are reflected in the search results they see, and the search results are constantly updated.

“What we search for influences what we find,” says Rodgers. “Not all search results are the same. That front page of Google, depending on what I’ve searched for in the past. It’s very hard to game that organic search.”

People would soon find out about it, talk about it on social media and write about it, and then resurface the original negative terms Johnson’s team were trying to quell. “All this talk [about Johnson's gaming of the system] on Twitter has a self-propelling snowball effect,” says Zelezny.

And searches for many of the terms – including “Boris Johnson bus” – still show images of the controversial Brexit campaign bus, the result of images being tagged with the term and no new ones to replace them.

“Even if it was a deliberate approach, it’s unlikely to work in the long run because all that other [negative] content is still there, and unless you take all those other factors [such as personalised searches and tagged images] into account, you’re only going to get partial results,” says Rodgers. “You might make a slight difference in the short term, but in the long term it’s not going to make a massive difference.”

The ability to manipulate Google search results has become more difficult as the search engine has become more nuanced in how it presents results, says Zelezny. Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithms and the factors that dictate which news articles and websites will be most prominently displayed. The company does not provide detailed breakdowns of how its search results are processed.

“Manipulation is much harder because Google knows there are people trying to manipulate it and it’s a threat to the quality of results,” Zelezny explains. “People will go to other search engines if they get bad ones.”

However, there have been precedents of politicians taking over key phrases in search terms. Search for “completely wrong” on Google Image Search in 2012 and you’d be presented with images of Mitt Romney, after he used the phrase in a much-publicised apology for saying 47 per cent of Americans saw themselves as victims.

On a more fundamental level, Johnson seemingly doesn’t have to worry about the presence of negative headlines. Although 43 per cent of people believe Johnson “probably acted improperly” by not declaring his connection to Arcuri, and only 22 per cent believe he’s honest, the Conservatives are still the most popular party in the polls.

“He’s not really concerned about the personal stories that have been around for some time about him,” explains Delia Dumitrescu, a lecturer in media and cultural politics at the University of East Anglia. “He’s actually banking on the fact that this isn’t going to touch him.”

As for his odd obsession over buses, that too is part of the everyman persona he’s trying to craft. “He’s trying to tell his supporters he’s also approachable,” says Dumitrescu. “I think he has succeeded to some extent. His background is elitist. He’s not like most people. He’s very unique. He hasn’t known poverty. But he just wants to give this image of himself as being one of the regular guys, a bit weird but likeable, very likeable.”