April 16-30, 2021

The Digital Rights Roundup, published by the Foundation for Media Alternatives, contains regular updates on what Filipinos need to know about their digital rights.

Two lawyers appointed as usec, asec at DICT

The Department of Information and Communications Technology has named two young lawyers as undersecretary and assistant secretary. The DICT did not officially announce the date of their assumption of office. The department currently has seven undersecretaries and four assistant secretaries as a result of the latest appointments. All of DICT’s top officials are male, including Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II. Read more here

PH’s fixed broadband internet speed in March fastest since 2016 but still lags at 81st in the world

For the month of March, the Philippines’ average fixed broadband download speed rose to 46.25 Mbps, the highest in recent years. However, the average download speed on the mobile network fell to 25.43 Mbps from 26.24 Mbps in February. It ranked 83rd in the world, dropping by three positions from the previous ranking. Read more here

NTC directs telcos to ensure sufficient tech support in preparation for Typhoon Bising

Over the Eastern Visayas and Camotes Islands, Typhoon Bising will carry moderate to heavy rains. The NTC has ordered the concerned telco companies to expedite the repair and restoration of telecommunication services in the typhoon-affected areas. They are also reminded to work closely with the LGUs and adhere to strict health guidelines in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease. Read more here.

Jobs for tech graduates continue to rise

Bennett Tanyag, the Web Development Program Chair at iACADEMY, cited the surge in demand for computing work. As the transition to digitalization continues to put pressure on companies and organisations, schools are expected to scale up their operations in order to meet the huge demand for IT graduates. Read more here.

LGUs directed to set up electronic business one-stop shops by June

The Ease of Doing Business Law, which was signed in 2018, gave local governments three years to set up an online business registration system. Local governments have until June 17 to transfer all of their business permit applications online. A joint memorandum circular (JMC) was signed by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and other government agencies to standardize business registration systems. Read more here.

Filipinos lap up online shopping amid pandemic: survey

Facebook’s Emerging Trends Research showed that marketers who were able to pivot digitally amid the health crisis gained profits. About 12,500 people across 14 countries, including the Philippines, were studied for changes in consumer behavior in 2020. About 87 percent of respondents are willing to spend more for ease of access to products or services. Live selling, a rising Facebook trend where a business sells auction-style or an inventory show-and-tell in real-time through Facebook or Instagram Live, also gained steam in recent months. Read more here.

Twitter account of Philippine Statistics Authority compromised

Philippine Statistics Authority’s official Twitter account was hacked on Saturday, April 17. The account was renamed to Elon Musk. Messages directed viewers to a fake Elon Musk cryptocurrency giveaway scam website. Read more here.

5 Koreans nabbed as cops bust cyberfraud ring in Angeles City

On Monday, members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested five South Koreans and four Filipinos in separate operations in Angeles City, Pampanga, for allegedly engaging in hacking and phishing activities. Three separate search warrants for violations of Republic Acts 8484 and 11449 led to the arrest of the nine suspects. Read more here.

SIM card registration pushed in the Philippines to block fake bookings

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines is calling for SIM card registration to be made mandatory. This is in response to the rising number of fake bookings made via online delivery apps. A senator was one of the high-profile victims of online delivery fraud in 2021. Read more here

San Juan City pilots gov’t online vaccine registration system

San Juan City has partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to pilot the government’s Vaccine Administration System. The DICT VAS, also known as D-VAS, is a component of the agency’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS), which was created to support the national immunization program. The DICT plans to expand the D-VAS to other cities in National Capital Region and Luzon in the coming weeks. Read more here.

DOH, DOST level broad accusations vs media over COVID vax ‘disinformation’

The Departments of Health (DOH) and Science and Technology (DOST) have issued statements calling out “media institutions” of misinforming the public about COVID-19 vaccines. The agencies did not specify which media outlets published content or materials alleging such prejudices and misinformation. In a joint statement, the agencies said that the spreading of rumors and unfounded claims would not help increase the public’s trust in vaccines. Read more here.

Fake news! DND, AFP deny destabilization plot vs. Duterte over WPS dispute

Top Defense and military officials denied the existence of a group of retired and active military officers that is reportedly disgruntled over China incursion in the West Philippine Sea. Read more here.

YouTube’s unclear policies allow lies to thrive

Despite the platform’s dedication to combating misinformation and disinformation, it still allows videos that can amass thousands of views, run advertisements, and go unnoticed as potentially misleading, ultimately leading viewers down a rabbit hole of propaganda, historical revisionism, or science denial. Read more here.

PH lags behind in acting on remote learning problems amid pandemic

While the Department of Education promised that “no student would be left behind,” students were unable to access high-quality learning materials. The most accessible of all the modalities was modular learning. Teachers conducting online classes found that nearly half of their students never got a chance to show up for class due to internet connection. Read more here.

Comelec invites walk-in voter applicants as online system is clogged

Applicants who are unable to arrange biometrics capture appointment via the online system iRehistro can have a greater chance of being accommodated as walk-ins, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). A number of people who “fake-register” by not turning up for their biometric capture on the scheduled day are contributing to the already clogged online system. Walk-in registrations are on a “first come, first served basis” in most provinces of the Philippines which are under less stringent quarantine rules. Read more here.

Senate bill seeking to impose net neutrality on internet industry

Senator Imee Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 2103, which imposes the net neutrality standard as well as norms for reliability and affordability on internet providers and telecommunications companies. Under the bill, Data Transmission Industry Participants are obliged “to treat all internet traffic equally,” providing internet access services without discrimination, restriction or interference. Sen. Marcos noted that the internet in the Philippines remains “slow, unreliable, and expensive” in terms of mobile data speed. Read more here.

DICT exec: Protection of online workers crucial as ICT use increases during pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified social protection issues faced by online or platform workers, according to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) National Planning and Corporate Management Bureau OIC-director George Tardio. He said the public health crisis also showed the need to upskill and reskill online and platform workers, especially those in “the lower end of the value chain”. The DICT official said the government can “maximize the ‘digital dividends’ from digital platforms” if it can bridge the digital divide in the country. Read more here.

PH press freedom ranking drops

The Philippines’ press freedom ranking fell by two notches, placing 138th out of 180 countries. Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders said the Philippines possesses “state troll armies that use the weapon of disinformation on social media.” The group noted how the government targeted the Philippine Daily Inquirer and waged a “grotesque judicial harassment campaign” against Rappler and its executive editor and chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Ressa. RSF classified the Philippines as having a bad environment for journalism. Read more here.

Guevarra: ‘Checking’ profiles of community pantry organizers violates privacy law

Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr., Spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict said they are “checking the background” of those behind the highly-popular community pantries. According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, checking the profiles of organizers of community pantries could violate the Data Privacy Law. The Maginhawa community pantry temporarily closed a few days ago after an organizer was red-tagged as having alleged ties with the communist movement. Read more here.

Senators want red-tagger NTF-ELCAC defunded: ‘Sayang pera ng taongbayan’

Some senators are considering the removal of the multi-billion peso budget of the government’s anti-communist insurgency task force after its persistent red-tagging of community pantries. Read more here.

CHECK THIS OUT! Listen or watch to this podcast by EngageMedia on Freedom of Expression Online

Announcement:

The Foundation for Media Alternatives invites you to the ‘Weaponization of surveillance in Southeast Asia amid a pandemic’ session of the Global Digital Development Forum on May 5, 2021, 5:00 GMT.

This discussion will explore the various privacy-intrusive measures used by Southeast Asian governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, including contact tracing applications, databases, and new policies. It will highlight the privacy implications of these initiatives and look at how civic activists and civil society organizations are responding to the threats posed by such activities.

Join us! Register at http://bit.ly/3ueXWaU

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You may also subscribe to UP Internet’s telegram channel for latest news and updates on digital rights at your fingertips. The UP Internet Freedom Network (UP INTERNET) is an alliance of students and volunteers advocating for internet freedom. You may e-mail them at upinternet.org@protonmail.com for inquiries.

DOWNLOAD: On profiling, press freedom, and the digital divide: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (April 16-30, 2021)

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