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‘Hacktivists’ strike on eve of SC hearing

By |, Christine O. Avendaño


Cebu Daily News

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.

 

#OccupyPhilippines

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.








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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    WAG NINYO I HACK MAAWA KAYO MGA HACKERS MGA PILIPINO DIN KAYO MAY PUSO PERO IBA NA NGAYON PANAHON NA NI KIM JUNG UN NG NORTH KOREA!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    BUTI NGA AT NA HACK GINAGAWANG NORH KOREA PILIPINAS!! AYAW NILA NASISILIP SA MGA KAPAL PAKAN NILA! KUNG AYAW NILA NA MASILIP SILA LUMAYAS SILA SA PUWESTO NILA! DAHIL DI NILA KAYA GAMPANAN ANG TRABAHO NILA! AT GUS2 ITAGO ANG KATANGAHAN NILA! SI TITO SOTTO COPY MASAYA YUN!!

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    implement na plan to
    centralize government web hosting

    using open source software

    kaya lang dapat top notch security
    specially humanware

    separate servers
    with physically separate backups
    and fiber connections

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E3CE56OQVPC4RPYD2NR4VD3SUE Bert

    The KAWATANS in govt are pushing hard for the enactment of the CYBERCRIME Law but are sooo AFRAID of the FOI Bill, no matter how PNOY promised for the immediate passing of this bill in the last election………we are duped by the so-called Daang Matuwid.

  • parefrank

    And Sereno will try to hold as much of the law valid as possible because her protector, Dr. jur h.c. Noynoy Aquino had signed it without to know or understand it really. He did not even realize that Sotto, for personal reasons, his plagiarism case, had inserted a 12 years jail sentence for a crime which in the common law has only 6 years as maximum and which is heavily urged to be decriminalized.
    For sure, Noy would like this law, esp. near to election. It would allow  to threat critics with libel cases and even put libelous messages to critical sites by hacking nd then to punish the owner. Another Straight path?.

  • Camille Decena

    I really believe that we should give this law a chance. Most of the issues are merely based on assumptions. No IRR has been set.
    We should also consider the many who have fallen victim to cybercrime, cyber libel.
    Imagine going to court asking for justice because a malicious accusation has been posted on the net. If we go to regular courts maybe that post could have been viral. A life has been totally destroyed.
    Hackers are shameless. They only want the glory in a lawless set-up. I wonder why some even think they are heroes. Totally bonkers!

    • parefrank

      Total nonsense. For such case, there are already so many laws existing, no “Sotto special” is needed. And since the “libelous” mesage was anyway  posted already, still it can go viral. It’s only, why people like Sotto think that they are so interesting to the world that all web userd would care about their problems? 

      • Camille Decena

        While you dwell on your angst against Sotto there are other people who are seeking justice because of these crimes. You may have a personal grudge with the person but you cannot deny others their right.
        No disrespect to you but this concerns all of us not just a few.

  • Julius_Caesar1

    I’m against the libel provision of the cybercrime law but these hackers should know whom to target. They are like mass murderers who get innocent people into their fray. Targeting certain government websites such as the NFA is just despicable.

    Mass murderers go on a trigger happy shooting spree. 
    Assassins study and carefully choose their targets. 

  • http://twitter.com/alfs_alfs Pons Corpuz

    What these so called “Hacktivists” are doing only justifies that there is indeed a need for Cybercrime Law. 

    It’s LIKE acting stupid just to show that they are against an “anti-stupid law” (For morons, this is an analogy, okay?)

  • Opinyon_ni_Juan

    While I have many reservations with the CyberCrime Act, I also believe that the actions of the Hactivists are wrong. They are destroying public property which will eventually burden the people.  There are enough intelligible and logical reasons to challenge the Cybercrime law.  For example, one can simply point out to the experiences of countries who had similar laws and now had the trouble of implementing it, which will be more likely the case in our country. Many of the provisions of this law are unenforceable, given the current capabilities of our local police agencies.  The hactivist should sharpen their stance by doing more diligent research.  It will not help their cause to simply use force and destroy public properties (defacing websites) and intimidate the Supreme Court  justices. Remember, they accuse the proponents of the Cyberlaw as authoritarians, they themselves should not empoly authoritarian tactics in airing their protests.

    Hactivists must be legitimate in both goals and tactics.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GRJCBEOUL25WWKSSM3JV7IFFII syaoransangel

    huh, cyber law, ano yun? nung araw kasi gin lang libangan namin. kahit walang internet nun maligaya naman kaming namumuhay.



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