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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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Tags: Anonymous Philippines , Courts , Cybercrime , Cybercrime law , Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 , Freedom of expression , Government , hack attacks , hacking , hacktivists , Internet , litigation , National Food Authority , Philippine government , Philippine government websites , Supreme Court , technology , trials

  • franciskwan

    For those who still doubt the creeping martial law of this administration, this serves as the last nail on the proverbial coffin.
    It seems those who were passionately against martial law seems to have forgotten how inch by inch our right were trampled or ignored during those dark days.
    Similarly, those in government still professes that they are doing this “for the good of the country.”
    Their tactics are employed everywhere. This includes the harassment of people whether in government or not by political or nonpolitical means, to get what they want.

  • sebastian abao

    The Aquino administration would not enact an FOI bill. Instead, they smacked the freedom loving Filipinos with a law that categorizes online freedom to criticise into another libel crime,so that they can the go on where GMA, hubby and cronies have left off. What a rip off! Straight path for the country to another years of secretive, unaccountable, irresponsible and corrupt governance.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZS723M7OQL5GJ43IEJMJUDDIY hanep

    Net citizens  will unite  and  uphold  freedom  of  expression   to  honor  the death
    of  Aaron Swartz ,  the  co – founder  of  Reddit   and Demand  Progress.

    He was  a  passionate  advocate  of  freedom  of  expression  be  it  in
    cyberspace  or  in the  mainstream  media.

    He  passed on  at   the ripe  age  of  26.

    • Camille Decena

      Too much freedom of expression. Blogsites in the US have been manipulated. Try reading Trust me I’m lying.

  • Beguine

    These arrogant hacktivists are in fact committing a crime, and daring
    the government and the cyber law to come and catch them.

    It’s just not the same as simply going against the cyber law
    because it punishes and is a big silly constraint on the Constitution-
    protected freedom of speech/expression.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, just scratch this stupid
    nonsense cyber law, that’s all. It’s not needed at all, since
    there are already so many laws against petty crimes like
    those of these hacktivists.

  • Albert Einstien

    there will be cyber & street protest to the MAX if SC will commit a mistake ….with 30 million users threatened by cyber libel  law….coupled with incompetent governance, sky rocketing prices , high incidence of unemployment, criminality & poverty..that would be a perfect SOCIAL TSUNAMI….sc should protect the people..especially NOW that our LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS & intel units are in cahoots with syndicates ( atimonan carnage-shootout -rubout )…………. lol

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RVUPQ6G477GUPUISDLVUWAL2EQ True Orient

    Child’s play! Defacement is harmless and is only done to show off a system cracker’s skills or for Hacktivism, unless it is used as a distraction to cover up more sinister actions such as uploading malware or deleting essential files from the server. Basic knowledge in SQL injection and a little coding is all that is needed to deface a website but the server is not really breached when defacing occurs.

  • Weder-Weder Lang

    Why would the SC justices rule against the anti-cybercrime law? Without the anti-cybercrime law, there will be more exposés against government officials. PNoy signed it into and never retracted his support even for the cyberlibel provision. PNoy and his allies in the congress are dragging their feet on the FOI bill. In short, more transparency is bad for the powers that be. The TRO was just palubag-loob. They will ultimately uphold the the constitutionality of the anti-cybercrime law. Kung si CJ Sereno nga refused to answer questions about her 2011 SALN despite misdeclarations found by COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan. Ito pa kayang anti-cybercrime law. Better be prepared for a huge disappointment.

  • farmerpo

    He he… government web sites should put up a better security system. Given we have the best security guys (they won in international security design competition last year), it is amusing that other companies are reaping the benefits. Government funds tend to fly down government officials’ private pockets, as in MOOE, me, tev, coa, sop,etc..  

    • Camille Decena

      Although I agree with your suggestion some small business have webpages or simple websites may not afford such security feature.

      • parefrank

        The best existing and by millions used security programs are below 100 dollar. Big companies will need more licenses and maybe some special soft- and hardware features, but all affordable to them.

    • parefrank

      Best security guys? Which program was called the best and made in RP? I do not know antone. Seems the competition was very easy.

  • VeTee gdesz

    people should understand what this law means.  defacing websites government or public is not to be tolerated, right or wrong maybe, but it is still wrong.  

    • reddfrog

      Sheep.

    • kalikasanipagtanggol

       one of the silenced during martial law!

      • parefrank

        There was no “cyber” yet during martial law.

    • Albert Einstien

      maybe you are a govt official, a congressman, a senator, kkk or a yellow zombie…cyber space is the only civil way  the people can guard the govt coffers from PLUNDER of  corrupt officials, KKK’s & politicians,freely express themselves &  petition the government for redress of grievances…instead of JOINING bloody STREET PROTEST & creating monstrous traffic jams….. anti-cyber libel law is very helpful to the economy, country & to mmda too….lol

      • VeTee gdesz

        Oh no sir believe me i am not any of those you mentioned above, because i am just a mere ofw saying my views.  there are so many ways to express ones opinions  BUT definitely you cannot correct it by doing another mistake!  The more these hackers deface/hack websites the more the  Government eager to push through for  this cybercrime law as they are helpless in the hands of these guys, so they will be put behind bars.  Why not sit down and talk about revisons of this bill that is acceptable to both!

    • Camille Decena

      I think reading it should be an imperative before making any comment

  • w33k3nd3r

    just goes to show how outclassed government employees are… wanna know why? Coz the budget goes only to the department heads, Congressmen and Senators (most recently Enrile’s playing God in the Senate) who don’t give a $h1t . They run for public office lying to us every moment of the way. This is a reflection of how messed up and corrupt the system still is at that level.



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