August 1-15, 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.

Telcos: Keep easier permit process for towers

Philippine telecommunications companies are hoping that the Duterte administration will be able to make the telecommunications provision in Republic Act No. 11494 or Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II) permanent, as well as reduce spectrum user fees and station license fees, before the end of the President’s term. Read more here

NEDA stresses need for digital transformation in delivering gov’t services

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has stressed the importance of data science, analytics, and digital transformation. NEDA director-general Karl Chua said government and businesses alike need to use data science to make better policies. The agency is working on a three-step registration system to ensure safe and efficient implementation. Read more here.

PLDT, Globe secure more LGU permits

Globe Telecom secured 1,451 permits from LGUs as of June this year. PLDT and Smart secured more than 24,000 fixed and wireless permits since last year. The continuous network expansion of the two telcos improved the country’s fixed and mobile broadband speed between June 2020 and June 2021. Read more here.

Digital banking to boost financial inclusion in PH

There are 249 digital challenger banking players globally, comprised of dynamic digital upstarts and transitioning legacy operators. The Philippines offers an attractive opportunity for this expanding market, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Report by BCG is titled Emerging Challengers and Incumbent Operators Battle for Asia-Pacific’s Digital Banking Opportunity. Read more here.

Study: As banks shift to digital, Pinoys want security and privacy

Southeast Asian consumers are more prepared to consume digital services then consumers in other nations. 73 percent of Filipinos are open to contactless payment and 55 percent prefer to engage with banks via apps rather than visiting in person. The research indicated that a make-or-break features that Filipinos watch out for in digital banking are security and privacy. Read more here.

BAP urges public to be more vigilant vs. cybercriminals

Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) urges public to be vigilant against cybercrimes. BAP cited rising online fraud like phishing and other cybercrime, especially since 2020 pandemic hit. It assured public that all banks have rigorous protocols when it comes to investigating crimes. Read more here.

Top spreader of COVID-19 disinformation has an office in Manila

A new report shows the 12 biggest proponents of COVID-19 disinformation on social media. Joseph Mercola, a 67-year-old osteopathic physician and entrepreneur from Florida, is named in the report. The report attributed false content that has been shared 812,000 times between February and March 2021 to these 12 individuals. Read more here.

Carpio idea vs ‘trolls’ welcomed, but…

Journalists say the burden of repelling trolls should not be on news organizations. Instead, state actors who fund so-called troll farms should be held to account. Retired Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has proposed forcing social media users to reveal their true identities but it poses privacy concerns to the users. Read more here.

Duterte vows ‘quality’ education amid pandemic, but no other plans in last SONA

President Rodrigo Duterte made no mention of his plans for the education sector in his State of the Nation Address. Learning in the Philippines will continue to be carried out remotely due to the virus as a new school year begins this September. Over two million students opted to forego schooling in the first year of distance learning. Read more here.

Experts recommend hybrid polls for 2022

Experts believe using a hybrid election system is the Philippines’ best option in next year’s national poll. Hybrid polls entail manual counting and electronic canvassing and transmission of votes. The only disadvantage is that tallying time will be 5 to 10 hours longer compared to using PCOS. Read more here.

Hidilyn Diaz is most talked about athlete globally on Facebook

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has become the most-mentioned athlete on Facebook and Instagram over the past 24 hours. The four-time Olympian overtook American gymnast Simone Biles and Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal as the most popular athlete in the quadrennial games. Read more here.

Law to improve PH internet connectivity pushed

An information and communications technology expert urged lawmakers to pass legislation to improve the country’s internet connectivity. ICT expert Grace Mirandilla-Santos told CNN Philippines’ The Final Word that the government should not focus solely on increasing internet speed. Read more here

House pushes for no call, no text, no e-mail registration system

Mobile phone subscribers and email users would soon be protected from unwanted calls, text messages, and emails containing commercial or promotional advertisements. House Bill 9608 was passed by voice vote during Wednesday’s plenary session. The bill seeks to establish a system of no call, no text, and no email registries for subscribers. Read more here.

Gov’t to bring end to MITHI e-gov’t harmonization initiative

The government will be winding up the Medium-Term Information and Communications Technology Harmonization Initiative (MITHI). The initiative was convened in 2012 to increase efficiency in the acquisition of ICT resources of government agencies. The MITHI Steering Committee recommended the move to terminate the project. Read more here.

Cebu City to NPC: Go after ‘bogus’ online sellers

Cebu City Councilor Raul Alcoseba is asking the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to investigate the practice of sending items to individuals who did not make any online purchase. He suspects some online sellers leak their clients’ personal information to bogus online sellers who in turn send items that were never ordered in the first place. Read more here.

SEC opens new office unit to regulate fintech industry

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a new office unit to regulate the fintech industry. The PhiliFintech Innovation Office will focus on the regulation of the use of financial technology in the Philippines. Regulating innovative trading markets and technology-based ventures is part of the SEC’s mandate. Read more here.

Facebook blocks ‘Ad Observer’ website from being shared on the platform

Facebook banned the accounts of New York University (NYU) researchers studying the microtargeting of political ads on users. The Ad Observatory Project was attempting to see how people were being targeted. Mozilla said Facebook’s claims about it are wrong and that it respects user privacy. Read more here.

COVID-19 vaccination registration site hit by cyberattack – Manila gov’t

Manila’s COVID-19 vaccination website was attacked by automated bots on Wednesday night, August 4. The city government said the system went down from 10 pm to 10:30 pm on Wednesday, and that the problem had been resolved by midnight on Thursday. The site now has a reCAPTCHA system to protect from spamming. Read more here.

DILG seeks P5-7 billion for more contact tracers after Bayanihan 2 expires

The Philippines faces threats from the highly transmissible Delta variant, local government officials said on Wednesday, August 4, that additional funds were needed to hire more contact tracers. The agency was able to hire about 50,000 tracers in the past year, though contracts of only 30% have been extended. Read more here.

NPC says suspending data privacy rules won’t boost contact tracing efforts

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has a written a letter to the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) ECOP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. who has been recommending that the government identify people who have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The commission said there is no scientific basis supporting the premise that suspending provisions of the law would be an effective anti-pandemic measure. Read more here.

Facebook blocks lawmaker’s accounts for COVID-19 misinformation

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan) had two of his accounts blocked by Facebook on Monday. The lawmaker was in the news for touting an anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin, against a coronavirus. Defensor’s Facebook page now has “reduced distribution and other restrictions” due to violations. The Department of Health has maintained its position not to recommend the drug as treatment for COVID-19. Read more here.

Moreno chides ‘paid’ blogger for sharing deceptive photo of ‘crowded’ vax hub

Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso admonished a blogger he described as “bayaran” for spreading a photo that falsely presented an allegedly jam-packed vaccination site in his jurisdiction. The Manila Public Information Office tagged as “fake news” a post from Mocha Uson Blog bearing a photo of people supposedly overcrowding a facility for vaccination against COVID-19 in the city of Manila. Read more here.

Internet access major challenge among teachers: study

A recent study by a member of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) bared that access to the internet is still a major challenge among teachers across the country. The majority (62.66 percent) of the respondents were compelled to physically report to school either thrice or twice a week. In all teaching levels, 97 percent of the teachers surveyed experienced self-learning modules as a remote teaching modality. Read more here.

UNICEF-backed surveys reveal online dangers facing Filipino children

Two new studies on online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the Philippines have confirmed online dangers facing Filipino children today. The government and civil society need to take more effective steps to protect Filipino children as they navigate online platforms, especially during the time of the pandemic. Read more here.

Apple update will check iPhones for images of child sexual abuse

Apple says iPhones and iPads will soon start detecting images containing child sexual abuse. Privacy advocates say the move raises concerns about a potential “backdoor” into Apple’s operating systems. Apple counters it will not have direct access to the images and stressed steps it’s taken to protect privacy. The tech giant is also changing its texting app, Messages, to recognize and warn children when receiving sexually explicit photos. Read more here.


This week, the Foundation for Media Alternatives launched ID Watch, a monthly digest of news and updates about identification systems in the Philippines.

You may read and download the initial issue (for June 2021) here.

If you want to receive future issues via email, kindly contact and indicate your intention to be included in the mailing list.

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 digital transformation, initiatives of online platforms, and the dangers that come with the use of online spaces: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (1-15 August 2021)

All resources here are linked to the original websites. If any of the resources will be used otherwise, please do credit the source.



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