Tag Archive | "Cybercrime Prevention Act"

PNP Starts Damage Control by Denying Official Connection to FB Page


UPDATE (10/4/12) [Pepe Bawagan]:

The following image is a screenshot from the Google Web Cache of another Facebook Page named PNP National Hotlines Directory (Metro Manila+Provinces):

Previously, it could be seen that the post in the shot had been deleted, but now the entire page is gone. Thankfully, a copy of the page dated September 5 is still available from Google Web Cache. (Here’s a screenshot of the page from Google Web Cache, in case the actual one has expired.)

Given this new evidence, the “long con” theory seems to have become a lot more complicated and a lot less believable.

UPDATE (10/1/12 9:37pm): The “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB Page is up and running again, but without the controversial thread.

The reputation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is in danger now, thanks to some comments made by the admin of the Facebook page titled  “Philippine National Police (PNP).” I’m being careful about how I worded the previous sentence because the admin of the Facebook personal account belonging to “Philippine  Nat’l Police” has released the following statement denying any “official connection” to the PNP FB page (emphasis added):

Press Statement of
PCSUPT GENEROSO R CERBO JR
PNP Spokesperson
Chief, Public Information Office
October 1, 2012

The PNP categorically denies any official connection to a message which appeared in one particular facebook account found by many to be offensive, threatening and malicious.

For one, official statements of the PNP to include press releases intended for public consumption are published
in digital form through our PNP official web site www.pnp.gov.ph or Facebook under the account name pnp.pio.

Further, said official statements can be released individually to our media friend both in hard and digital copies in the name of the PNP Public Information Office.

We shall have this incident investigated ASAP. You will be updated on the developments.

The phrase “official connection” immediately struck me. Do they have an unofficial connection to the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page? If they do, that would explain why the page was taken down so quickly — it usually takes much longer for FB to act on page removal requests.

In a recent post on Rappler, PNP spokesman Chief Supt Generoso Cerbo Jr. — who wrote the press statement quoted above — told Rappler that “statements made on their Facebook page are not official. [emphasis added]” Does “their” mean they do own the page? Another source of confusion is Cerbo’s next statement:

“Di kami nagrerelease ng statement through Facebook,” he said, adding that the PNP only makes statements through their official website. (We don’t release official statements through Facebook.)

But as of this writing, Cerbo’s statement has not been posted on their official website. It has only been released on the PNP PIO personal account. Should I then suspect the PIO statement on FB to be less than official?

Another thing that bugs me is how Cerbo keeps referring to official statements. The Big Brother comments on the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page were just that: comments. No one seriously takes comments as official statements.

Imagine that something similar happened to your organization. You discover that there’s an FB page posing as someone who is affiliated with your group, and worse, they’re posting comments that make you look bad. How do you respond? You wouldn’t say, “We don’t post official statements on Facebook.” You would say something like this: “We don’t know who is operating that Facebook page, but we can assure you that we have nothing whatsoever do do with it, and that its admin is nothing but a fraud.”

That the PNP statement says something less than this adds weight to my suspicion that the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page, however unofficial, was run by someone connected with the PNP. According to several FB users who have frequented the page, it contained informative posts and was updated more frequently than the PNP PIO account. It also had almost 9,000 likes, dwarfing the PIO personal account’s 824 subscribers. Lastly, compare the headers used by each:

I don’t particularly like either, but the second one sure looks like more effort was put into it. Considering this, together with the amount of content and interaction in the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page, it’s no wonder that many still think it was authentic despite PNP saying otherwise.

This isn’t the first time the authenticity of “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page was questioned. Technogra.ph posted an article arguing that the page was fake because (1) the behavior of the admin was too abusive for an official PNP page, and (2) PNP didn’t link to the page from their official website. Both are true, and I particularly agree with their first reason. PNP also took flack for what the FB page had said back then. But that was almost three months ago, and I don’t think the PNP was unaware of what had happened.

So why haven’t they taken action on it until now? And why was the page only taken down now? I hope these questions and more are soon answered by PNP’s investigation into this. And I find it interesting that the fascistic technologies and manpower mentioned in the “unofficial” FB page will be a big help to them now. (It’s also interesting that the PNP statement did not deny any of the statements made by the fake FB page. Are they really monitoring citizens this early?)

Lastly, I’d like to commend the allegedly fake admin of the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page. I read that the page had been up since Jan 10, 2011. (The first activity of the PNP PIO account was on Jan 6,2011.) It takes dedication to attract 8,880 likes in only a couple of years. If this was indeed a long con meant to troll PNP, fool thousands of Filipinos online, including the reporters at Rappler and GMA News (they wrote a post about this but have since taken it down), then all I can say is well played, sir.

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Check out Google’s cache of the allegedly fake FB page. Really seems legit.

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Politics, SocietyComments (3)

PNP FB Admin First to Abuse Cybercrime Law


UPDATE (10/1/12 9:42 PM): More updates on PNP’s damage control.
UPDATE (10/1/12 7:15PM): A press statement in this PNP PIO account denies any official connection to the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” page, which has already been taken down.
UPDATE: The FB thread below has been taken down.

The Cybercrime law hadn’t even taken effect, but that didn’t stop the Philippine National Police (PNP) from abusing it. At least that’s what the admin of their Facebook page did when they encountered an unwelcome comment.

The comment was a response to PNP’s post about criminology students doing poorly in English. Here’s a screenshot just in case they delete the comment, too:

I say “too” because right now these are the only comments I can read out of the ones included in a screenshot that is spreading all over Facebook. Here it is, just in case they get Facebook to take it down as well:

As several commenters have pointed out, the law doesn’t take effect till Wednesday, October 3. Yet the “CIDG Anti Transnational Crime is now conducting background investigation against” the commenter. This may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: some who read PNP’s comment are now thinking twice about speaking their mind. And when anyone is afraid of exercising their right to freedom of speech, something is definitely wrong.

Thank you, PNP, for proving that the Cybercrime Prevention Act (AKA Cyber Martial Law) must indeed be stopped. And fuck you.

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Image source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=507445769267202&set=a.102182453126871.4645.100000053506248&type=1

PNP thread: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=407303659323060&set=a.145337415519687.39609.145291485524280&type=1

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (15)

Our Government was Hacked: Cyber Martial Law and the Sottovirus


Definitely not a government web page.

The true test of any system is its ability to respond to problems. A system can work most of the time, but you can’t measure its true capacity unless you subject it to stress.

This is what happened to several government websites recently when Anonymous Philippines hacked them to display a message protesting the Cybercrime Prevention Act. While proving their skill as hackers, they also proved another thing: the security system of these government sites has failed. There have been a range of criticisms to this hacking: from petty and ineffective on one end to ultimately counterproductive on the other.

Whatever the case, this serves as a good analog to the larger narrative. The government is designed to self-correct internal problems through a system of checks and balances. There’s a reason there are three branches of government, two houses of Congress, 24 senators, and so on. These bureaucracies make it hard for any single element to make the entire system fail, similar to a computer’s using several layers of protection, such as firewalls and anti-virus software.

So what does the passage of the Cybercrime bill say about our government? Our legislative system has been hacked; its many layers of security have failed. A malicious virus was uploaded, undetected, and resulted in the system behaving contrary to its intended design.

Let me explain the analogy. As part of a democratic government, our legislation was designed to create democratic laws. In contrast, the laws crafted by a dictatorial government would be undemocratic. By now it’s obvious to any intelligent person who has a basic understanding of democracy that the Cybercrime Law is undemocratic. I have yet to encounter someone who thinks otherwise. Despite their responsibility for the law, even our politicians agree, but it will take some explaining.

Most probably, the implications of the Cybercrime Law — particularly on the right to free speech and privacy — weren’t fully understood by most legislators when they first encountered it. I don’t think that any intelligent legislator would think that someone who simply tweets an unflattering sentence about someone should be at risk of government surveillance or spending a decade behind bars. This is just one of the Cybercrime Law’s implications that weren’t so obvious at first. These concerns possibilities may be absurd, but they’re legitimate ones, at least according to every lawyer I’ve read and spoken to so far.

Senator Escudero: Better late than never?

I believe that if you take a poll of our lawmakers, asking them whether they would have passed the bill knowing these implications, the results would show how much each lawmaker understands and values democracy. Only the undemocratic or incredibly stupid would still have passed it.

In spite of everything, I still think majority of our lawmakers are basically democratic. Yet the Cybercrime Law shows that a mostly-democratic legislative branch has created an extremely undemocratic law. The executive branch, which is lead by someone who would especially want to avoid any association with dictatorship, would have vetoed the bill had he known its dictatorial implications.

Sadly, most of them will never admit this. Senator Escudero has been the first and only one so far to have admitted his mistake, but only because he has good reason to. He is the author of a bill that decriminalizes libel. There could be nothing more embarrassing than his having passed a bill that not only perpetuates libel’s criminal status but broadens it as well. An error of this magnitude is better corrected sooner than later.

Which makes me wonder why Senator Angara, who has also authored a bill removing the prison penalty for libel, has yet to admit his mistake. It probably has to do with the fact that he is a principal author of the Cybercrime Law. Admitting that you shouldn’t have passed your own law is understandably more embarrassing. Two more senators, Sen. Honasan and Sen. Estrada, also have pending bills that decriminalize libel. Yet both have voted for a bill that makes libel an even graver crime, and both have yet to admit their grave mistake.

The other senators are not as hard-pressed to admit their error, and it will be interesting to listen to their excuses when (or if) they do. But I highly doubt that many will. Because if more Senators admit that they’ve made a mistake, then the integrity of the entire legislative institution will be jeopardized. Better to perpetuate the story that the Cybercrime Law, flawed as it is, is still the product of a working legislative branch.

P-Noy thoroughly examining something.

Which is precisely the story that the executive one has been telling so far. His spokespersons have said that he endorsed the Cybercrime Law only after studying it thoroughly. Which is a good political move considering the alternative: admitting that he and the people who work for him weren’t doing their jobs (or as his critics love to call it, Noynoying).

Our government may not admit it, but the integrity of the legislative and executive branches has been tested, and it has failed badly. Like the handful of government websites hacked by Anonymous PH, our democratic system has been hacked — the Cybercrime Law is the malicious web page to prove it.

But there is hope. The third branch of government has yet to fail, and it is now being tested. Several citizens have separately filed motions asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on implementing the law’s undemocratic provisions. Some have even asked that the entire law be repealed. But it will be hard for the Supreme Court to do either. Whichever they choose, it will mean the failure of the executive and legislative branches. Understandably, Chief Justice Sereno would think twice before painting P-noy and his administration as less than competent.

And if there’s any branch who understands how undemocratic and unconstitutional the Cybercrime Law is, it’s the Supreme Court. Regardless of what the SC decides, it’s up to us citizens, the programmers and owners of this system, to make sure that the error is corrected. We deserve some of the blame, having installed these faulty components. But it’s a good sign that unlike the incompetent government we’ve elected, we’ve detected the virus.

CJ Sereno and the SC: The Last Bastion?

What’s left is to deal with it — telling our anti-virus software to put the virus in quarantine (issue a TRO), delete it (repeal the law), and of course, uninstalling those responsible for it (not re-electing them). The Cybercrime Law is testing our country — whether we’re truly a democracy or just a democracy on paper. It is then fitting that some have dubbed it “cyber martial law.” Forty years ago, when Marcos declared martial law, we faced a similar test. I hope it doesn’t take us as many years — or casualties — to pass this one.

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For updates on the fight to junk the Cybercrime Prevention Act (Cyber Martial Law), join the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) on Facebook. Filipino Freethinkers is a proud member of PIFA.

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