November 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.

Service interruption hits Converge ICT Solutions

Internet service provider Converge ICT Solutions Inc. confirmed a service interruption following complaints from subscribers. Subscribers in Quezon City and Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela also experienced internet connection problems due to a fiber cut. Read more here

DICT eyes widening of internet access in Philippines through ‘fiberization’

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is focusing on “fiberization” instead of just setting up free WiFi sites. DICT Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic said the country is still “very” far from achieving wider internet accessibility. The department will also focus on areas private telcos are not investing in. Read more here.  

DICT plans to build 178,000 cell towers to serve 89M internet users by 2025

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) aims to build enough cell towers to serve the needs of 89 million internet users by 2025. There are currently 25,213 government-funded cell towers nationwide, which cater to roughly 3,500 users per site. The ideal ratio is 500 users per cell site if it is simultaneously used. Read more here

Poe reminds DICT: Gov’t offices should get 200 Mbps Internet speed by Feb. 2022

The Senate will continue supporting the completion of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) aimed at addressing the longstanding Internet connection quality in the country. Phase 1 of the program is expected to be rolled out in February next year. This will increase the Internet speed in government offices to 200 Mbps. Read more here

House panel approves bill requiring text or e-mail notice to traffic violators

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development approved on Wednesday, Nov. 18, two measures seeking to improve the implementation of traffic rules and regulations. House Bill 5656 is proposing that erring motorists are initially notified with an advance notice of their violations through text, e-mail, Facebook, messenger or Viber. Read more here

Group of Banks Pushes Mandatory Registration Of Mobile Phones In Phl To Avoid Fraud And Identity Theft

Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) is pushing for mandatory registration of mobile phones. Ramon Jocson, vice chairperson of BAP cybersecurity committee, said it is very difficult to track devices that are not registered in case of online fraud. Read more here

Bank clients lose over P1 billion to cybercrime

Entrepreneur Neneronda Tan discovered she had P1.74 million in credit card debt incurred from 14 transactions, none of which she authorized. This was right after she lost her cell phone signal when she accepted a call from someone claiming to represent courier DHL. Other transactions failed because her credit limit had been breached. Read more here

NPC probes reports of spam text messages on sketchy job offers, free cash deals

Several Filipinos reported that they have been receiving text messages about sketchy job offers. They aired these complaints by sharing screenshots of these messages on social media. Online users also suspected that their phone numbers might have been leaked from contact tracing forms and apps required when entering establishments. Read more here

Study: Duterte fans, folks who trust Facebook for info tend to believe fake news

The majority or 52.5 percent of youth respondents only got six to eight correct answers or an average score of 6.9 in a fake news quiz. The researchers created a 10-point quiz consisting of 5 false stories on Philippine Cabinet members, with 5 other real stories. The survey was conducted from August 23 to September 24 with 20,000 students who are eligible voters as participants. Read more here

Educators to fact-check candidates and supporters, flag revisionists

Academic groups have formed an alliance network aimed at fighting disinformation and electoral fraud ahead of the May 2022 elections. The Akademya at Bayan Laban sa Disimpormasyon at Dayaan (ABKD) will check the claims of candidates and their supporters for accuracy and counter false information on social media. ABKD will produce videos featuring academics fact-checking the materials. Read more here

Church group warns of attempts to distort history amid 2022 elections

A group made up of members of the clergy on Wednesday warned the public not to be misled by any attempt to “distort and reframe history”. This comes in time for the 2022 elections. Read more here

NBI cybercrime group to probe complaints of Sen. Pangilinan vs 2 YouTube channels

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has assigned its cybercrime division to probe the complaints of Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan against two YouTube channels and Google Philippines country manager Bernadette Nacario. The senator accused the channels of violating Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand M. Lavin said the complaints have been assigned to the agency’s Cybercrime Division led by Head Agent Victor Lorenzo. Read more here.

WB: Remote learning jacked up learning poverty in PH to 90% in 2021

Learning poverty in the Philippines reached a new high of 90 percent during the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning has not been equally effective everywhere, World Bank report finds. Read more here

Comelec expands rules on pol ads run on social media

Only websites, blogs and social media pages registered by candidates and political parties may run campaign ads for the May 9, 2022 elections. Candidates must also disclose that these are paid ads and who paid for them. These provisions are part of the expanded social media regulation issued by the Commission on Elections. Read more here

British paedophile who paid for abuse images from the Philippines is jailed

Michael Wilkinson paid predators in the Philippines for images of child abuse. The 36-year-old paid via a third party for photos and video to be sent to him. Police raided his home in Bexhill, East Sussex, after being tipped off about his online activities. Read more here

ABS-CBN awarded $21 million in lawsuit vs 21 websites illegally streaming content

A US court has ruled in favor of Filipino media and entertainment company ABS-CBN. The order from the Court in the Southern District of Florida includes an award of damages in excess of $1 million against each of the 21 website operators. Due to the defendants’ failure to appear in court or participate in the lawsuit. Read more here

BSP backs SIM card registration amid rise in phishing scams

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is backing the mandatory registration of SIM or subscriber identification module card. The move comes amid the recent influx of spam or phishing text messages. Read more here

Tech advocate calls for enactment of laws supporting 21st century ICT

Pierre Tito A. Galla, co-founder of Democracy.Net, stressed the importance of the Open Access and Data Transmission Act. “ICT is an ecosystem. It’s not just about technology, it’s also about the users and the way we use ICT,” Galla said. He also stressed that the government should adopt a “whole-of-nation” approach in dealing with ICT-related issues. Read more here

Banks, fintech firms to freeze accounts of text scammers

Banks and financial technology firms will try to freeze accounts of scammers and their accomplices. National Privacy Commission chair Raymund Liboro made the announcement in a phone interview. 40 suspicious domains have been blocked by Smart so far, while telcos traced host of some of the spammers. Read more here

PLDT, Smart block 19,000 mobile numbers linked to digital pyramid schemes

PLDT and Smart have blocked 19,000 mobile numbers and 5,693 user access to sites connected to an SMS spam scheme. The group uncovered over 100 domains involved in the ongoing SMS spam campaign. National Privacy Commission has summoned data protection officers of telecommunications firms, online shopping applications, banks to report on spam prevention measures. Read more here

Cybersecurity expert: Be paranoid when you receive texts from unknown numbers

Angel Redoble, Smart-PLDT chief information security officer urges subscribers to be paranoid whenever you receive text messages that are not from unfamiliar people. National Telecommunications Commission Deputy Commissioner Ed Cabarios shared the same view. The reminders came after the discovery of a new text scam in which subscribers are tricked into sending money to a fraudster. Read more here.  

Telcos vow ‘swift action’ vs text scams

Philippine telecom giants PLDT and Globe Telecom commit to widen cooperation to fight text message scams. The move follows a meeting with regulators, banks and e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee. Both companies also called for greater “threat intelligence sharing” among private sector stakeholders. Read more here

Join us in a Twitter Spaces Session this coming Thursday, 9 December!

As part of Foundation for Media Alternatives’ initiative to popularize human rights in digital platforms in the Philippines, we will be holding a Twitter Spaces Session on advocating for a free and open internet in the Philippines. This event is part of FMA’s contribution for the celebration of Human Rights week.

Join us this December 9, 7:00 PM Philippine Time via Twitter Spaces. Follow us on Twitter (@fma_ph) for real time updates!

NEW RELEASE: ID WATCH November 2021 Issue

Smart and Quezon City develop unified ID card, PhilSys registration for overseas Filipinos eyed: ID Watch November 2021

ID Watch is a monthly digest of news and updates about identification systems in the Philippines.  View or download the current issue of ID Watch by clicking here

Subscribe to UP Internet’s telegram channel for latest news and updates 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 the efforts to broaden internet access in the Philippines, spam text messages, and fighting historical distortion: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (16-30 November 2021)

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