Hackers Strikes Again: Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 Violates human rights Freedom of Expression

Philippine Hacktivist attacked the Government website as protest for "Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012" Violates human rights Freedom of Expression

A hacktivist group struck down several government websites Wednesday night (September 26, 2012) in protest against the recently enacted anti-cybercrime law that imposes penalties on hacking, online libel and similar activities.

The group identified as "Anonymous Philippines" attacked the 7 government websites of the following:

  1. Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
  2. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
  3. Department of Health Anti-Smoking
  4. the University of the Philippines' Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis
  5. Philippines' Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT)
  6. the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Region 3
  7. the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

The hackers replaced the websites with a predominantly black interface, an animated logo and a statement against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. A "Rage against the Machine" track, "Freedom," played in the background of the hacked websites.

The group calls the new law "the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines."

"Anonymous Philippines," in a statement on the websites, said the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10175), "is the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the country."

Anonymous Philippines, whose Facebook page boasts over 250 fans, also called the new law's provisions on libel "cunningly deceptive" in implying that everyone can be imprisoned even for their licit online activities.

No more Anonymous Comment

"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 "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 claimed, tagging themselves with the lines "We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."

The new enacted law will control everything in the online world and commenting in any blogsite or website with anonymous status would be ban and everyone must show its identity to the government and must be responsible in all of its word.

With the law, the government is empowered to arrest anyone without warrants as long as it would qualify to what the government believes as violation of the cybercrime law.

All Netizen's IP address and the location of the user would become traceable to the government authority.

"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," it added.

Three petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court asking it to strike down several provisions of RA Act 10175, particularly on online libel, the authority given to the Department of Justice to block websites even without a court review, and the warrantless monitoring of electronic data.

Traditionally, .gov domains are considered the most secure online sites.

'Up and restored'

Certain links at the official website of the BSP remain inaccessible to public hours after the portal was defaced by a group condemning the passage of the anti-cybercrime law..

"As of 2 a.m. today, the website of the (BSP) has been up and running, restored and able to serve the public once again," a statement released on Thursday said.

"The BSP's internal Information Technology Group worked on the immediate restoration of our website after ensuring that our security firewall kept our database protected," it added.

The BSP website was one of the government portals hacked by Anonymous Philippines in its protest against Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which the group sees as a form of online censorship. A group of journalists on Tuesday filed a stay order petition against the law before the Supreme Court.

However upon checking, despite the website already being restored, certain links to electronic files of BSP issuances and publications remained unavailable.

Recently, the Department of Science and Technology's Information and Communications Technology Office issued directives to all government system administrators to review their websites' security to prevent more hacking attacks.

The directive was issued after a series of attacks on government websites at the height of the tense territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Philippines' Cybercrime Act unconstitutional

Guingona, meanwhile, pointed out that the new Cybercrime Act has unconstitutional provisions.

He said the law denies equal protection for people charged with libel. He said a person found guilty of libel under the Revised Penal Code can face jail of up to 4 years while online libel is punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment.

Guingona also said the provisions of double jeopardy do not apply under the new cybercrime law. He said a person can be charged with libel and violation of the new law at the same time.

Thirdly, he said the new law gives the Secretary of Justice vast powers to order any website blocked even without a court review.

Malacañang condemn the Attack

Malacañang on Thursday condemned the defacement of several government websites, which was allegedly done to protest the passage of the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

In a text message, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said the defacement is "an act of vandalism that does not win them any sympathy."

Similarly, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters: "There should be no fear in expressing oneself (but) we should be reminded that responsibility should be present in cyberspace. "

He added that no sensitive materials were lifted from the hacked government websites.

Asked for the President's opinion about the defacement, he said: "Ang position lang ng Pangulo ay may responsibilidad din dapat sa cyberspace."

Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III and Internet law expert JJ Disini also condemned the incident despite their own misgivings about the new cybercrime measure.

Guingona told a forum that everyone "should work to craft responsible blogging rules and hacking should never be allowed."

Disini said the defacement is a violation of the law and will not change anything.  Red Tani of the Filipino Free Thinkers also did not condone the defacement but said he understands the hackers' sentiments.

ABS-CBN, philSTAR

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