Bring protest to proper forum, hackers told-A A +A
Thursday, September 27, 2012
MANILA (Updated 5:10 p.m.) -- Malacañang urged hackers to bring their protests on the anti-cybercrime law to the proper forum rather than deface government websites.
The hackers who identified themselves as "Anonymous Philippines" defaced Wednesday night seven government websites and hinted for more possible similar attacks on cyberspace.
But presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Thursday that these hackers are not getting any sympathy from what they are doing and it would be better if they raise their concerns to the proper venue such as the court.
"Well it won't win them brownie points if that's what they are doing. I think the better venue for them is to really show their protests in a proper forum rather than hacking a government website or government websites," he said.
Lacierda said the Palace respects the rights of the individuals and groups who have filed petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the new law.
Among the website hacked by the "Anonymous Philippines" on Wednesday were those of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team, Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Region III, Smokefree Philippines of the Department of Health, and Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis.
The group called the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 signed by President Benigno Aquino III last September 12 as the "most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines," adding that it "ends freedom of expression" in the country.
"The language of the bill is cunningly designed to make you think it only applies to individuals who are deep in cyber-technology and doesn't apply to everyone, but some part of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other comment-spaces of other social media in the Internet," the group said.
"It is just so disappointing that our government, in adopting our 80-year-old antiquated libel laws to the Cybercrime Law, again seems to have retarded our march with the rest of the world with respect to giving full force to the people's freedom of expression," the group said a statement posted on the defaced government websites.
Lacierda said the anti-cybercrime law aims to impose responsibility on the people who are using the cyberspace.
"We already have responsibilities attached to print, TV and radio. So the cybercrime act was crafted to also attach responsibilities in cyber space," he said.
He noted that the freedom of expression is not absolute and everyone should know the parameters in using the Internet.
"And I think more than anybody else the journalists are very responsible when it comes to writing article. They know the parameters. Our concern here are the people who are not familiar with being responsible about what they write," he said.
Lacierda added that the law should not fear people from expressing themselves in cyber space.
"I think it is a matter of responsibility. I think we should know where licentiousness stops. If we want to express ourselves we can express ourselves in a decent manner. If you want to criticize, you can criticize without getting to licentious," Lacierda said.
One of the alleged hackers identified as "#pR.is0n3r" said the government "will see what Anonymous can do" if the new cybercrime law is used to curtail freedom of speech and expression.
"You want to see Anonymous rise up? Try to shutdown the message, try to chill our speech," said "#pR.is0n3r" on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Another post on the Facebook pages of "#pR.is0n3r" and Anonymous Philippines said: "If speaking up against idiocy in government and unconstitutional amendments is a crime, then I am PROUD TO BE A CYBER CRIMINAL."
"We are fighting for the truth and free speech. People should not fear the government. The government should fear their people," the post added.
Law enforcers have lauded the enactment of the measure, saying it would help them cope with the "increasing tide of crimes" using the Internet.
But similar to the hackers, media groups and the public have also assailed the libel provision of the new law as it allegedly tramples the basic rights of freedom of speech and expression.
"No [Republic Act] can stop an idea," said the #pR.is0n3r.
The other hackers also identified themselves with mere codenames such as busabos, Anonymous Butuan, PrivateX, Lo0p th3 Lo0p, l4stl00k, Blackrain, and Anonymous Manila.
The said hackers also defaced the websites of two government agencies this month.
On September 2, the same hackers defaced the official website of the MWSS in protest of high water rates.
On September 17, five days after the enactment of the cybercrime law, hacker "busabos" replaced the DOH website banner with "nakakalungkot pero sin tax = corruption."
"We are anonymous. We are Legion," the hackers said. "The corrupt fear us, the honest support us, the heroic join us. Expect Us," they added.
While the anti-cybercrime law has yet to take effect, Lacierda said he defers to the legal experts on what actions can be taken against the hackers who defaced government websites. But he said that no sensitive materials were lifted from the websites.
The Palace official, meantime, dismissed apprehensions that the government might use the law to go after people who are criticizing the administration, saying definition of online libel in the cybercrime act was the same with the definition in the Revised Penal Code.
He, likewise, downplayed the issue on the supposed last-minute insertion of the provision on online libel in the law, saying that there was a recommendation for the approval of said provision.
"The recommendation was for the approval. Because before the law was given to him for signing the Office of the Executive Secretary prepared a legal memo for that and it was recommended for signing," he said.
Senator Vicente Sotto III, who was recently subjected to bashing in cyber space due to supposed plagiarism, was the one who purportedly inserted the libel clause to level the playing field between journalists and social media users.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the cybercrime law are still being drafted by the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology and Department of Science and Technology. (Jill Beltran/Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)