June 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.

Bill filed in Senate seeking to develop satellite-based Internet access

Senate Bill No. 2250 seeks to improve Internet access in the country’s satellite networks. It is envisioned through the bill that Internet access will be improved by encouraging the entry of new satellite technologies to provide services to those either unserved or underserved areas, Gatchalian said. Read more here.

Filipinos’ reliance on internet at an all-time high

The Philippines started enforcing indoor directives in March of 2020 in an attempt to curb the COVID-19 transmission in the country. This has resulted in the increase of Filipinos’ reliance on internet connection for information. According to the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Household Survey performed by the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute, in October 2020, 17.7% of all residences have Internet access. Smartphone shipments increased by 26.8% to 4.2 million devices between January to March, the International Data Corporation stated. Read more here.

Gov’t begins pilot run of online dispute resolution system

The Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) of the Department of Trade stated on Wednesday, June 16, that the Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) will begin a pilot run to strengthen the country’s improved online system for receiving and resolving consumer complaints. Read more here.

‘Financial services need to embrace digitalization’

Financial services industry in the Philippines needs to embrace new technologies, says independent association of leading life insurance and finance services professionals. Randy Scritchfield, first vice president of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), said digitalization would continue to be a critical area of the financial services industry. He said Filipino professionals need to stay in close contact with colleagues to learn how to navigate the changing landscape. Read more here.

Youth group urges CHR to probe red-tagging

On Friday, the Kabataan Partylist, which has been red-tagged multiple times, filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) alleging that government agencies, security forces, and private individuals were “inciting hate and harm” against its officers and members. Read more here

DTI warns public against online pyramid scheme

Department of Trade Industry (DTI) has warned the public against Chain Distribution Plans or Pyramid Sales Schemes. Companies that practice and offer these schemes tend to focus more on the recruitment of new potential members rather than encouraging its members and franchisees to actually sell products and services. Read more here.

Financial services industry sees largest increase in fraud attempts in PH: survey

The percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts coming from the Philippines in financial services increased 50%, the highest among all industries analyzed. The telecommunications and logistics industries recorded the two largest declines during this period. Read more here.

Individuals create 17 online accounts during pandemic — IBM survey

A study by Morning Consult, commissioned by IBM Security, surveyed 22,000 individuals in 22 markets in the Asia Pacific. The survey identified three effects of the pandemic on consumer security behaviors in Asia Pacific: account overload led to password fatigue; digital boom will outlast pandemic protocols; and convenience often outweighs security and privacy. Read more here.

Info of voter registrants in new mobile app protected: Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured that the basic information of voter registrants using its newly launched Mobile Registration Form App is protected. The mobile registration app is available for download on Android devices using the link, bit.ly/MobileForm App. Over 11,000 applications and 16,000 app downloads have been received so far. Read more here.

NPC warns public against unauthorized compliance checks

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has warned the public against organizations or persons claiming to be authorized by the agency to conduct compliance checks or privacy assessments. The NPC said its compliance checks are conducted by authorized NPC personnel only. Read more here.

PTV’s Facebook, Instagram accounts get ‘Philippines state-controlled media’ tag

Facebook’s initiative of labeling government media organizations as “state-controlled media” has reached the Philippines. The Facebook and Instagram accounts of the government’s People’s Television Network (PTV) station can now be seen bearing such tags. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the matter should not be a source of contention. Read more here.

Solons seek House probe on alleged gov’t-funded troll farms

Party-list representatives file a resolution seeking to investigate the troll farms allegedly organized by a government official. Lawmakers say trolls are paid as much as $38,000 to $57,000 per month to interfere in political opinions and decision-making. Senator Panfilo M. Lacson earlier disclosed that an undersecretary tapped his former staff to create at least two troll farms. Read more here.

DepEd chief Briones lying, teachers insist

Teachers in the Philippines have waited for as long as two years for the release of their performance-based bonus (PBB), a teacher’s group says. The DepEd said on Tuesday that public school teachers received their benefits on time. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) dismissed this statement as a “blatant lie”. Read more here.

Fighting lies during elections is not just the media’s job, say fact checkers

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) held a panel at Poynter on Tuesday, June 15 to discuss how to fact-check elections. Ghana Fact trained more than 30 newsrooms to set up fact-checking teams that knew how to use digital tools to flag misinformation. In Brazil, Agência Lupa trained media, fact checkers, and social media platforms to quickly counter misinformation. Read more here.

Comelec rules out online voting for OFWs in 2022 polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled out the possibility of online voting for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the 2022 elections. The Commission is talking to three technology providers which will conduct “internet testing in the next couple of months,” namely Voatz, Indra, and Smartmatic. Senator Francis Tolentino said last week that seafarers have had a hard time casting their ballots in past elections. Read more here.

PLDT reports blocking more than 10,000 links to online child abuse materials

PLDT blocks more than 10,000 links to online child abuse materials, including 4,500 URLs and domains tied to online sex abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). PLDT said it is able to accomplish what it called its “biggest haul yet”, thanks in part to its partnership with UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) which began in April. The company said that British intelligence confirmed with them that the majority of patrons of illicit child abuse material are from developed nations in the Americas and Europe. Read more here.

Globe taps alternatives to combat online piracy

Globe Telecom Inc. collaborates with government and content providers to create an “appropriate site-blocking mechanism” in the Philippines. The telco is also investing in piracy detection technologies for more efficient monitoring and takedown of illegal sites. Read more here.

Cheaper, better internet access seen by yearend

A Singapore-based shared communication fiber network provider tapped by the government for a fiber optic cable network project sees cheaper internet costs in the country by yearend. The company has so far invested $500 million in the project, which will be implemented in various phases between 2019 and 2028. Despite the pandemic and the lockdowns that have placed limitations on mobility, the company is confident they are on track with the plans and timelines. Read more here.

Lending firms warned of closure for failure to register online apps

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it will revoke licenses of lending and financing companies that continue to fail to register and disclose their online lending platforms (OLP). The agency issued the stern warning in a notice dated June 22, as it continues to cleanse the roster of OLPs catering to Filipino borrowers. Read more here.

BSP issues guidelines on Open Finance Framework for use of consumer data

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved the guidelines on the Open Finance Framework. The framework is seen as a key enabler for digital transformation and financial inclusion in the local finance industry. Under the framework, consumers will have the power to grant access to their financial data that will shape a customer-centric product development objective. Read more here.

Cyberattacks on red-tagged news sites traced to DOST, Army

Swedish digital forensic group Qurium Media Foundation recorded “brief but frequent” distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against Bulatlat.com, altermidya.org, and karapatan.org. Qurium found at least five attacks against the three groups — on May 17, May 18, May 20, and two on June 6. It said the attacks were carried out by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Army. The three groups denounced the cyberattacks as politically motivated and state-sponsored. Read more here.

Suspect nabbed for reselling of rebranded Globe At Home modems

Globe Telecom seized a unit of Globe At Home Tozed S10g modem rebranded with DITO stickers from a certain Marlou de Paz in a sting operation in Pala-Pala, Cavite. De Paz is under investigation for violating RA 8484, or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998. He was allegedly caught illegally selling “open line modems” on various Facebook community groups for Cavite-based residents. Read more here.

39 charged for phishing

Police file charges against 39 workers of a marketing firm allegedly targeting credit card information and login credentials of foreigners living abroad. The 39 suspects were charged with violating the cybercrime law, child abuse, human trafficking, the law on reporting of communicable diseases ­– for violating health protocols in the workplace – and operating without a business permit. Read more here.

Stronger data privacy law sought

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has sought for amendments to the existing data privacy law in the Philippines. There is already an approved substitute bill at the House of Representatives that grants additional powers to the NPC, including the authority to issue summons, subpoenas, contempt powers, and to impose administrative penalties. Read more here.

More Filipinos say they trust ‘most news most of the time’

Filipinos were more trustful of most news reports from media outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they became less interested in the news in general, an annual global study on news consumption trends found. The study found that the proportion of Filipinos who say they trust “most news most of the time” rose to 32 percent. Read more here.

Pro-Duterte blogger arrested in Baguio over cyber libel charges

Video blogger Niño Barzaga was arrested outside his home last Wednesday, June 23, by a composite team of the Manila Police District (MPD) special mayor action team and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO). His arrest warrant for three counts of cyber libel was issued on August 6, 2018. Read more here.

Half of PHL students consider putting off school amid pandemic

More than half of students in the Philippines consider temporarily dropping out of school until the coronavirus pandemic ends. 51% of respondents want to postpone their schooling until face-to-face classes are allowed again. Main concerns with remote learning were internet connectivity (78%), difficulty in focusing and lack of motivation to learn (66%), finding a quiet and comfortable place to study (58%), balancing learning with other responsibilities (47%), and issues with mental health and wellbeing (43%). Red more here.

SaferKidsPH lauds Senate Bill 2209 protecting children against online abuse

UNICEF, Save the Children Philippines, and The Asia Foundation congratulate Senate on passage of Senate Bill No. 2209 or the strengthening protections against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children bill. SaferKidsPH calls on both chambers of the Philippine Congress to immediately pass Senate Bill into law before the end of the 18th Congress. In the Philippines, the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime reported a total of 1.2 million cyber tips in 2020, a stark increase from 400,000 in 2019 or a 209% increase. Read more here.

Lack of education, neglect raised after Philippines tagged as ‘global epicenter’ of live-streamed child porn

A screenshot of a tweet on child sex trafficking was shared on the Reddit. The user raised concern over the alarming increase of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) cases in the country. Child neglect and poverty were perceived as the main factors why there is still prevailing online child abuse in the Philippines. Read more here.

The Problems of #PHInternet: What can be done to improve ICT in the Philippines?

The Foundation for Media Alternatives and Democracy.Net.PH, with the support of USAID Philippines and Internews organized a learning session that will focus on the updates on the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (#MCPIF), the problem of #PHInternet based on a paper published by Democracy.Net.PH, and Philippine internet rights issues.

We thank everyone who registered for the event later at 4:00 PM onwards and we look forward to have a fruitful discussion!

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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 fighting disinformation, digitalizing services, and seeking for a stronger data privacy law: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (June 16-30, 2021)

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