May 16-31, 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.

Gov’t asked to put teeth to legislation on IP protection

MSMEs should look into investing in intellectual property (IP) protection as not giving this priority could have unfortunate consequences in growing their business. Carissa Cruz-Evangelista, founder-member of the Philippine Fashion Coalition spoke at an e- forum organized by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and advised MSMEs to earmark some budget for IP protection and register their brands. She also pressed for more teeth to legislation on IP rights, observing the difficulty in preventing counterfeiting of uniquely Filipino products such as indigenous textiles. Read more here.

Rappler reporter barred from covering Lumad teacher’s release in Cebu City

Lorraine Ecarma was barred from entering the Central Visayas police headquarters in Cebu City on Friday, May 14. She was supposed to cover the release of Lumad teacher and activist Chad Booc. Reporters from all other media outlets – both local and national – were allowed to enter the compound. When Ecarma asked why she wasn’t allowed in, the personnel at the gate said it was because Rappler was “fake news.” Read more here.

Google to automatically enroll users in two-factor authentication soon

Google is planning to automatically enroll users in two-factor authentication (2FA) to strengthen their security. The tech giant urged users to have the second form of verification in place as it revealed that it will automatically sign them up soon. Read more here.

Bank repeats warning on baring online data

BDO Unibank again warned its clients against sharing information online as these can be used by scammers. The bank instructs its clients to review their profiles and reconsider sharing their full name, birthday, education background, employment, and other personal information. Read more here.

Thousands of IDs for sale online

A cybercriminal is selling the KYC verification files of at least three investment companies in the Philippines. Know Your Customer or KYC is a mandatory process of verifying the clients’ identity when they open an account. More than forty thousand users are affected with full name, address, birthday, email address, phone number. Read more here.

Community pantry in Marikina closes amid fears of police profiling

A community pantry that has been operating weekly in Barangay Jesus dela Peña, Marikina since April 25 decided to pause its operations after the police conducted a background check on the organizer. Lex Liñga said two police officers who were present in his pantry location on Sunday, May 9, insisted that he fill out their logbook and indicate which organization he belongs to. Read more here.

NPC to impose administrative fines on data privacy violations in private sector

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) announced on Thursday, May 13, that is set to impose administrative fines on data privacy violations of personal information controllers or processors from the private sector. The agency made it clear that the proposed fines are separate from the criminal penalties and fines provided under the Data Privacy Act (DPA) and its implementing rules and regulations. A separate initiative for government agencies is also underway with the NPC holding consultations with the Civil Service Commission. Read more here.

UP doctor slams red-tagging of groups organizing donation drives for PGH

A doctor from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine slammed on Sunday, May 16, the red-tagging of groups organizing donation drives for the fire-hit Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Dr. Gene Nisperos asked the public to promote solidarity instead of red- tagging those who want to provide aid to those affected by the fire. Read more here.

DepEd eyes internet load distribution to teachers by June

Department of Education said procurement is underway for a monthly connectivity load to teachers at 30 to 35 gigabytes. The 35 GB per month could fit for teachers’ online activities. DepEd has a total budget of P1.2 billion for the procurement of internet load for the school year. Read more here.

Red-tagging by Duterte gov’t should alarm Comelec, says watchdog

Kontra Daya says police and military are violating election laws by red-tagging certain individuals and groups. The poll watchdog said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should be alarmed by these efforts. The Comelec said it is not dismissing the watchdog’s “vague” call outright, but argued that it falls outside the ambit of what the poll body is supposed to do. Read more here.

Potential bets start advertising on Facebook as 2022 campaign shifts to social media

Candidates have started advertising on Facebook more than a year before the May 2022 elections. A significant shift to online campaigning is expected during the 2022 elections, especially with mobility restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Read more here.

2022 Philippine election debates may be ‘hybrid’ – Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Friday, May 14, that the presidential and vice-presidential debates for the 2022 national elections may combine in-person attendance and remote participation of candidates. The threat of COVID-19 continues to cast a long shadow on the poll body’s preparations. The conduct of the debates will be among the agenda in a conference to be attended by agency officials on Monday, May 17. Read more here.

3rd telco Dito debuts in NCR, says it’s on track to meet coverage target

Two months after making its commercial launch in Visayas and Mindanao, third telco Dito Telecommunity formally landed in Luzon on Monday, May 17. At a virtual launch attended by top company executives led by its chairman and CEO Dennis Uy, Dito said it is initially making its service available in the 16 cities and 1 municipality. The company “will continue to expand” beyond the National Capital Region as it seeks to meet its five-year commitment of 84-percent coverage of the Philippines. Read more here.

Duterte seeks Philippine growth through global digital economy

The Philippines is pushing for intensified participation of the Philippines in the global digital economy as part of efforts to rebuild the economy left in tatters by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank has pointed out the importance of digitalization for economic and social resilience. Read more here.

Converge ICT confirms talks with SpaceX but says launch of Starlink unlikely this year

Fiber broadband player Converge ICT finally confirmed it is in discussion with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to bring its highly-touted Starlink satellite broadband project in the country, but stressed that the service is unlikely to be rolled out this year. Read more here.

Activists to Supreme Court: Stop ‘dirty war’ on dissent

Human rights activists call for an end to the dirty war against unarmed activists. The group made the appeal in a hand-delivered letter to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 18. The Supreme Court did a monthlong information gathering on attacks on lawyers, but activists said it is equally important for the Honorable Court to look into the attacks suffered by the clients. Read more here.

Gov’t to probe LGU-linked online selling of jab slots

Authorities are investigating reports of clandestine online selling of COVID-19 vaccination slots. Each slot’s price depends on the vaccine brand: for the China-made Sinovac, P6,000 to P8,000 for two doses; US-developed Pfizer vaccine and British Swedish AstraZeneca fetch higher at P10,000-P12,000 per slot. Read more here.

‘COD parcels’ scam rampant, Ninja Van warns

Express logistics provider Ninja Van Philippines has warned the public against falling prey to the so-called “cash-on-delivery parcels” scam. For the past six months, Ninja Van recorded over 200 reports of these incidents. Ninja Van is stepping up its information drive across the region, including the Philippines, to help curb similar incidents from happening. Read more here.

Bello asks NBI to probe fake FB account soliciting funds for his ‘Senate bid’

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sunday asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate a fake Facebook (FB) account that is being used to solicit donations for a community pantry and for his supposed Senate bid. The fake FB account which was brought to Bello’s attention over the weekend also posted bank account details of another person and a mobile number not that of Bello’s. Read more here.

Local governments intensify contact tracing

Contact tracing applications of local governments would be expanded to help manage the increase in coronavirus infections. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the recommendation. Read more here.

Court upholds ruling vs ex-Comelec chief

The Court of Appeals affirms the findings of the National Privacy Commission that former Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista violated Republic Act 10173 or the “Data Privacy Act of 2012.” Under the law, violation of the Data Privacy Act due to negligence is punishable by three to six months of imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P4 million. The appeals court added that Bautista availed of the wrong remedy, thus his petition was dismissed. The former Comelec chairman reportedly fled to the US in November 2017, a few weeks after resigning from his post. Read more here.

Southeast Asia on the forefront of disinformation for profit and power

Some of the most egregious examples of disinformation campaigning in recent times have come not from shadowy state operatives but from mainstream political parties. Politicians and their parties in Southeast Asia have long been ahead of the curve, argued Nicole Curato, associate professor at the University of Canberra’s Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, in a panel discussion on disinformation in the region at ASPI’s grey zone and disinformation masterclass. Read more here.

CHED: There’s no going back, ‘flexible learning will be new norm’

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Prospero de Vera III said on Friday, May 21, that the commission has already adopted a policy that “flexible learning” system will continue in school year 2021 and thereafter. The CHED chair explained that they adopted the policy as they don’t want to run the risk exposing our educational stakeholders to the same risk if another pandemic comes in. De Vera earlier said that universities and colleges have the freedom to choose what mode would be effective for them. Read more here.

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube still open for abuse in PH polls

Policies by Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube don’t provide answers to how they will address the issues of disinformation, political advertisements, data breach, and hate speech in an increasingly toxic environment. Read more here.

Duties on social networks to stop online child abuse urged

Senator Risa Hontiveros said her bill to stop online sexual child abuses imposes additional duties on Facebook and other social media networks.  Cases of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) in the Philippines increased by 264.6 percent during the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine from March to May 2020. The Philippines is one of the global hotspots of online child abuse and exploitation committed on online platforms. Read more here.

TikTok on Jam Magno ban: We will suspend those involved in severe violations

TikTok reserves the right to take action against any content or user that violates the Community Guidelines. The Community Guidelines helps TikTok prioritize safety, diversity, inclusion, and authenticity. Magno responded to the ban, saying that being banned on Tiktok is not new to her. Read more here.


Facebook is pestering WhatsApp users who doesn’t want to accept the new privacy policy by gradually degrading or removing core features of the app such as removing access to their personal chat list and deactivating message notifications.

It’s time to take a stand, and demand that Facebook leave WhatsApp alone. We are citizens, activists, lawmakers, and WhatsApp users from around the world, and we are getting organized to Stop Facebook, #SaveWhatsApp

Watch the video here.

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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 for inquiries.

DOWNLOAD: On press censorship, digital economy, and the ‘new normal’: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (May 16-31, 2021)

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