With anti-terror law, red-tagged campus press struggle to report during pandemic

Since 2010, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) has reported nearly 1,000 violations of campus press freedom and threats to campus publications have become more severe with the COVID-19 pandemic and the passage of anti-terror law. They also mentioned that it continues to pose serious challenges to campus press nationwide. Read more here.

Raids vs. activists may also be a ploy to ‘cripple’ 2022 opposition bets – Bayan Muna

The Makabayan bloc called the roundup of progressive leaders and organizers “Huli Week,” a play on the Filipino words “huli,” which means “to capture or detain,” and “holy,” as it is Holy Week. The latest police raids on activists in Laguna and Central Luzon might be a way to target the opposition who would run against the current administration’s opponents in 2022 elections, Bayan Muna speculated. Read more here.

‘IT security budget stagnant despite rise in cyber attacks’

Cyberattacks in the Philippines rose by 7% to 31% in 2020, up from 24% the previous year. Despite the rise in cyberattacks, the median percentage of information technology (IT) budgets spent on cybersecurity is not expected to increase. According to the report, the Philippines has a cybersecurity skills deficit, with nearly 45 percent of companies stating that “lack of cybersecurity skills is challenging for their organization.” Read more here.

Globe to use QR-based IDs to fight fraudsters, spot posers

All of Globe’s legal site acquisition, site maintenance, and right of way agents is set to have QR-code identification cards. The change is in response to concerns received by the telco on some parties abusing property and building owners’ trust. These individuals reportedly pose as brokers, builders, or building owners, seeking advance payments or reservation fees in order for their properties to be considered for purchase or lease agreements. The initiative aims to safeguard its lessors and contractors from fraud. Read more here.

No to suspension of Data Privacy Act: DOJ

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra expressed reservations on Tuesday about private business groups’ proposal for a stop-gap measure for contact-tracing of Covid-19 positive individuals. He mentioned that Republic Act No. 10173 may be suspended by an amendment or repealing legislation. He also said that available data from health authorities are sufficient measures without resorting to lifting the law’s protection for civil liberties. Read more here.

Contact tracing in Philippines, inadequate from the start, has deteriorated

Contract tracing, a crucial tool to curb COVID-19 spread has “largely deteriorated” in the last four weeks, according to contract tracing czar Benjamin Magalong. Only three close contacts were traced on average for every patient with the disease in the country, far short from the government’s goal of tracing 30-37 close contacts of patients in urban areas and 25-30 contacts in rural areas. Read more here.

533 million Facebook users’ phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online

On Saturday, a user on a low-level hacking forum published phone numbers and personal information of hundreds of millions of Facebook users.  Over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries had their personal details exposed. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the information was scraped as a result of a flaw that the company patched in 2019. Read more here.

Pag-asa Island residents get free internet access from gov’t

More free Wi-Fi points have been set up by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for residents of remote Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea. The effort, according to DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, is part of the department’s initiative to provide internet access to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. Read more here.

PH fixed average broadband internet speed rises, but mobile performance dips

Last March, the country’s average fixed broadband internet speed increased by 20% over the previous month’s figure. In March, the fixed broadband download speed was 46.25 megabits per second (Mbps), down from 38.46 in February. The average mobile network speed decreased slightly in March, from 26.24 Mbps in February to 25.43 Mbps in March. It was also unclear how the Philippines did in March compared to other countries, but it ranked 83rd on the mobile internet list in February. Read more here.

SEC to unveil new company registration system

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it would move to eSPARC, a digital business registration site, by April 19. New applications for One Person Corporations (OPC) and corporations with two to four incorporators will be accepted via the Web-based system. The IRS will conduct scheduled maintenance from 6 p.m. on April 8 to 9 p.m. on April 11 to prepare for the system upgrade and migration to eSPARC. Read more here.

Watchdog Amnesty notes ‘repression of dissent’ in Philippines

In 2020, Amnesty International noted “repression of dissent” in the Philippines. Human rights activists and supporters are continued to be killed, harassed, and face “unjust” charges. The government’s efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 resulted in “numerous human rights violations,” according to the watchdog. Read more here.

Filipino parents urged to keep an eye on children’s internet habits

In light of the anniversary of the pandemic lockdown and the widespread use of the internet these days, Kaspersky strongly advises Filipino parents to keep a close eye on their children’s online activities. Children can never be fully secured online and parents have a significant role to play, according to the cybersecurity firm. Kaspersky also mentioned that parents can never rely on their children’s judgement and they can never be sure what they access online. Read more here.

NPC warns LGUs on online posting of cash aid recipients

When publishing the names of financial beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) on social media, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) advised local government units (LGUs) to do so “transparency with accountability.” According to the privacy body, a number of local governments have been accused of releasing confidential personal details about cash aid recipients on Facebook and Google drive. Read more here.

OFWs, rural folks ‘especially’ vulnerable to Facebook data leak 2021 re-release

According to a security researcher who examined the leaked files, a Philippine data set held over 899,000 entries, which is higher than the widely published number of 879,699. Filipino rural residents and overseas Filipino employees are particularly vulnerable to the latest Facebook user data leak. OFWs who frequently send money home to relatives in the province are also vulnerable to spoofing, phishing, social engineering, and other forms of fraud. Read more here.

IATF OKs automatic contact tracing via text messaging

The recommendation to use text messages for automated contact tracing has been accepted by the government’s COVID-19 task force. The smart messaging system will be conducted in Pasig City for the initial beta-test. The IATF approved the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) proposal to use automated contact tracing through smart messaging “to further strengthen and improve the use of the StaySafe.PH contact tracing app. Read more here.

Tech giants back DOH campaign to fight vaccine misinformation

To stress the importance of accurate information in combatting the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) launched the #ChecktheFAQs campaign. The campaign has received support from Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter. Google Philippines mentioned that it is committed to removing negative and misleading materials from all of its platforms. During the launch with tech companies, the Department of Health said that spreading the right information can save lives. Read more here.

Twitter launches ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ emoji as movement grows

Twitter released an emoji for the Milk Tea Alliance on Thursday, a global online pro-democracy movement that has brought together anti-Beijing campaigners in Hong Kong and Taiwan with protesters in Thailand, Myanmar, and beyond. The Milk Tea Alliance emerged from a Twitter feud sparked by Chinese nationalists accusing a young Thai actor and his girlfriend of promoting Hong Kong democracy and Taiwanese independence. Read more here.


How to register to vote in the time of a pandemic

Given the additional challenges faced by COVID-19, it’s best to get registered for the 2022 Philippine presidential election as soon as possible. Rappler made this guide to voter registration during a pandemic to save you time and stress. Read more here.


The Foundation for Media Alternatives and Break the Fake Movement, in partnership with the Initiative for Media Freedom, Internews, USAID and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, launched the Media Civics Lab Seminar-Workshop Series with the goal of equipping emerging youth leaders with crucial responsible digital citizenship skills and grooming the next breed of media information and literacy (MIL) champions in different parts of the country.

The fifth seminar workshop on Positive Participation will happen on April 24, 2021 / Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Speakers for the event are Jules Guiang, YSEALI and Fyt. You may register through this link: https://forms.gle/tBEjw3b1SVUegBn17

Check out FMA’s FB page, Break the Fake Movement’s FB page, or Barangay Hub’s FB page for updates and announcements regarding the event.

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 cyber attacks, repression of dissent, and building alliances: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (April 1-15 2021)



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