December 1-31, 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.

21% of Facebook users in the Philippines experienced harassment —study

Facebook conducted a study among users in the Philippines and it showed that at least 21% of survey responders reported being the target of harassment. The study, results of which were presented on Thursday, also showed that 81% have reported seeing “bullying” taking place on the platform. Read more here

PLDT uncovers new ‘group chat’ modus linked to SMS spam

PLDT Inc said Friday its cybersecurity team uncovered that fraudsters were updating the SMS-related scam by using group chats. Chat administrators are part of a syndicate “who could be locals operating in the Philippines”. Read more here

Cyber attacks to increase; Philippines urged to rethink strategies

The number and size of data being stolen every year is getting bigger, resulting in higher financial losses. The country is being urged to rethink its cyber defense strategies as cyber attacks are not seen slowing down any time soon and are expected to further increase in the years to come. Read more here

NPC tracking sources of texts on job scams

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is pushing to track the owners of the numbers used in either calling or texting millions of Filipinos. The agency, citing information that came from telecommunication companies, said the smishing and text spams were traced to China and India-web- hosted companies. Read more here

BSP wants national ID used in microfinance

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) may harness the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys ID) and digital technologies to keep abreast with big players. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) envisions 70 percent of Filipino adults owning a transaction account and at least half of transactions done digitally by 2023. Read more here

House OKs bill ensuring adequate ICT infra for state schools

A measure establishing Public Schools of the Future in Technology to advance digital technology and innovation has hurdled final reading approval at the House of Representatives. A total of 221 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill No. 10329. PSOFT Act aims to harness technological innovations, processes, and instruments in facilitating teaching and learning processes. Read more here

Google to halt election ads ahead of 2022 Philippines vote

Google will stop carrying election ads in the Philippines ahead of the 2022 presidential vote. The updated policy goes into effect on February 8, covering ads on Google, YouTube and other platforms. Alarm has been raised in recent years by governments and election watchdogs over the use of targeted political advertising. Read more here

Filipinos online get news mainly from social: study

The Philippines is called a “mainly social” market where 51 percent of the population get their news mainly from social media. This is different from other markets where citizens come across news directly from news websites or apps. Prof. Rasmus Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, presented the study as he spoke on “Business Barometer: The trends behind the trends” during the opening of the 72nd World News Media Congress. Read more here

House passes on final reading bill on SIM card registration

The House of Representatives on Monday, Dec. 6, approved on third and final reading House Bill 5793 or the proposed “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act”. The bill garnered 181 affirmative and six negative votes, as well as zero abstention. Civil society groups have opposed the proposed legislation as a knee-jerk reaction. Read more here

Chinese hackers targeted South-east Asian nations, says report from cybersecurity firm

Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam were the top 3 targeted countries over the past 9 months. Insikt Group identified over 400 unique servers in South-east Asia communicating with infected networks that were likely linked to Chinese state-sponsored actors. The hackers also took aim at several other countries, including Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Read more here

Business groups decry abuse, hate on social media ahead of Eleksyon 2022

Local business groups called on political players to consider the impact of their efforts in social media. They urged them not to engage in “abuse” and to urge their supporters to remain civil. The groups also called on operators of social media and other platforms to consider what they are allowing to happen. Read more here

Meta vows to do better after study shows it worsens rights risks in PH

The Philippines is considered “Patient Zero” of organized political disinformation, largely believed to have catapulted then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency in 2016. Tech giant Meta has vowed to mitigate such risks and to “stop coordinated campaigns” that seek to manipulate public debate. Read more here

Don’t blame victims of hacking, National Privacy Commission chief tells banks

According to Raymund Liboro, the chairperson of the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the banking community should not blame victims of cyberfraud because financial institutions have the responsibility to protect their clients from potential risks. Read more here

12-Year Imprisonment, P200,000-Fine Sought For Trolls, Fake Account Users

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed a quick solution to unmask trolls and fight anonymity in cyberspace by requiring real name and phone number upon creation of social media accounts. He introduced this provision in Senate Bill No. 2395 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, which the Senate passed on third reading on Thursday, Dec. 16. Read more here.

Lacson alarmed over use of social media for disinformation

Sen. Panfilo Lacson backed the proposal of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to verify the YouTube accounts of political candidates. The presidential candidate lamented how social media has become a tool for disinformation to deceive the electorate. He said the verification of candidates’ accounts was a “much-needed step and a welcome move” by the COMELEC. Read more here.

NEDA pushes full implementation of PH Innovation Law

The National Economic and Development (NEDA) said it is pushing for the full implementation of the Philippine Innovation Act. The act would further solidify economic growth prospects and improve the country’s global innovation index by encouraging more research and development, and adaptation of new technologies. Read more here

Heightened DDoS attacks target critical media

Cyberattacks against ABS-CBN News, Rappler, and Vera Files may have been initiated by the same groups. The three news websites all experienced Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks during the second week of December. DDoS is a malicious attempt to bring down a website by flooding it with simulated traffic. It is also a form of system interference that has been illegal in the Philippines since the enactment of the E-Commerce law in 2000. Read more here

Anti-disinfo coalition pushes YouTube, Tiktok to crack down on false content

The Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) on Wednesday, December 22, published open letters to YouTube and TikTok, pushing them to act on the disinformation on their platforms. The letters asked the two video platforms to, among other initiatives, engage with local fact checkers and be transparent about how they flag false content. Read more here

Join us in a Twitter Spaces Session this coming friday,  14 January!

We will be launching the music videos of Kamalayan and Saysay ng Salita on Friday, 7:00 PM Philippine Time via Twitter Spaces. Follow us on Twitter (@fma_ph) for real time updates!

The songs are written by Paul Puti-an, performed by The Borrachos, and the music videos are directed by Erik Belbis. They will join us during the launch on Friday.

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 for inquiries.

DOWNLOAD: On cyberfraud, attacks on critical media, and disinformation in social media ahead of 2022 polls: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (1-31 December 2021)

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