September 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.

DTI-BOI: Two ‘hyperscalers’ from US, China to enter Philippines

“Hyperscalers” are global technology companies providing cloud and internet-based services. They require huge amounts of space, power and connectivity in regions they expand in. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines has potential as a prime location for hyperscaler firms. The initiative aims to create a more conducive and thriving business environment for hyperscalers. Read more here.

Report: DITO mobile network performance on par with Globe, Smart

DITO, the country’s third mobile network operator, launched its commercial services in metropolitan Cebu and Davao last March 8. It added 15 more areas on May 1 and launched mobile services in Metro Manila last May 17. Opensignal said DITO’s Video Experience remained in line with the all-operator average since its launch. Read more here.

House panel okays substitute bill on virtual marriage

The House Committee on Revision of Laws approved a substitute bill to House Bill 7042 or the proposed “Virtual Marriage Act”. The bill defines virtual as “the use of video, audio, and data transmission devices that allow people from different physical locations to simultaneously communicate, see and hear each other”. Read more here.

BSP eyes possible regulations on Axie Infinity

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will lead probe on gaming applications such as Axie Infinity and other social media platforms for its use of financial technology firms or fintechs. The Financial Sector Forum (FSF) is a voluntary inter-regulator coordination body comprised of the BSP, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Insurance Commission. It could help clarify the cross-cutting nature of finttech activities and which regulator would best fit a specific application. Read more here.

As registrations hit 40M, gov’t sees PhilSys ID as digital tool for SMEs

40.7 million Filipinos have registered for first step of national ID registration program as of August 20, 2021. The BSP has launched Philsys ID, a key identity document that will enable more unbanked Filipinos to gain access to the formal financial system and digital payment services. The microfinance community has made digitalization a major priority, the BSP noted. Read more here.

SEC says fintech regulation a tough balancing act

The Philippines is primed for fintech innovation, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Kelvin Lester K. Lee. He noted how the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the role of tech in making financial services accessible. The SEC recently launched the PIO, a new office under its Corporate Governance and Finance Department that will focus on the regulation of the use of fintech in the country. Lee said the SEC will adhere to the principle that no one size fits all when it comes to regulating financial technology. Read more here.

CHR urges gov’t to probe cyberattacks vs progressive, human rights groups

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urges the government to investigate the reported cyberattacks on progressive and human rights groups. The CHR said the growing dependence on digital channels due the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic encourages more cybercriminals to prowl the digital space. Read more here.

Philippines in crackdown on fake entry permits, COVID-19 vaccination cards

Philippine police have launched a crackdown against an online syndicate offering fake entry permits to the country for foreigners and phoney coronavirus disease vaccination cards. The Bureau of Immigration said it had received complaints about fraudsters pretending to be immigration officers and offering paid assistance in arranging access into the country. Read more here.

‘Government-backed attackers’ attempt to hack Robredo spox’s Gmail account

Vice President Leni Robredo’s Spokesperson shared a screengrab of a browser that showed an attempt to “steal” the password of his Gmail account. Lawyer Barry Gutierrez claimed that what was identified as “government-backed attackers” attempted to hack into his Google account. Read more here.

Government to launch VaxCertPH

VaxCertPH, a self-service portal that will produce credible and verifiable vaccine certification, will be launched on September 6, 2021. LGUs can make this service available by hosting its portal or booth in their area. The certificate may be printed or saved on the computer or phone. Read more here.

Sotto: Duterte must’ve been given wrong info, fake news prior to rant vs Senate

Senate President Vicente Sotto III surmised President Rodrigo Duterte may just have stumbled upon “fake news” online or have been given inaccurate reports. The Senate is currently looking into the Department of Health’s handling of pandemic funds worth over P67 billion after state auditors flagged “deficiencies” in its utilization. Last week, Duterte criticized the investigations conducted by the Senate, claiming they just lead to “nothing”. Read more here.

Expanded trafficking law pushed

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said the substitute bill on the measure that was already approved by a House panel aims to attune Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003 to the times as rapid changes in digital technology led to new ways for sexual abusers and human traffickers to scout for victims. It also aims to obligate internet service providers and tourism-oriented establishments to notify law enforcement agencies within 7 days of any form of child trafficking, child pornography, or sexual exploitation. Read more here.

House panel cuts DICT’s proposed budget for 2022 from P34.63B to P9.06B

The House Committee on Appropriations terminated its hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) amounting to P9.06-billion for fiscal year 2022. DICT undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic appealed to Congress for the release of their P8-billion Spectrum Users Fees (SUF) fund. Read more here.

Uy-led telco passes second technical audit, says DITO CME

DITO CME Holdings Corp. has announced that it passed the second technical audit on its committed coverage and speeds. This means that the new telco player has a capacity to cover more than half of the country’s population. If it fails, the government must recall the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and frequencies awarded to it and keep its performance bond of P25 billion. Read more here.

Pandemic exacerbates Pinoys’ telco woes

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) received 14,605 telco complaints in 2020. This is a 74 percent jump from the 8,417 lodged a year earlier. The surge started in April last year. From April to December 2020, the NTC was getting an average of 1,227 complaints. The number of consumer complaints received by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the first half of 2019 reached 8,354. Read more here.

Bill protecting consumers from skimming, phishing filed in Senate

Senator Grace Poe has filed Senate Bill 2380 or the Bank Account, E-wallet, and Other Financial Accounts Regulation Act. It seeks to protect online transactions especially now that most of banking activities have shifted online. The measure also recognizes the need to protect the public from cybercriminals and syndicates. Read more here.

Report: SEA digital retail growth fastest in Asia Pacific

Southeast Asia’s digital retail share grew 85 percent year-on-year, outpacing China (5 percent), Brazil (14 percent) and India (10 percent). There will be 350 million digital consumers in Southeast Asia at the end of 2021 compared to 310 million at 2020. In the Philippines, digital consumers shop an average of 7.8 websites in 2021, an increase from 4.3 in 2020. Read more here.

SSS number applicants can now upload supporting docs online

The Social Security System (SSS) has announced the enhancement of the online application of Social Security (SS) number which now offers uploading of supporting documents via online. Members can upload supporting documents such as copy of their birth certificate, marriage contract or baptismal certificate. Read more here.

Recto backs Octa Research after calls to stop sharing COVID-19 studies

The Octa Research Team was asked to stop publicizing its studies on COVID-19. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto defended the independent researchers, saying they are not conspiracy theorists. Read more here.

PH in the top list of cyber-attacks in ASEAN

The Philippines ranks high as the 4th ASEAN country targeted by ransomware attackers while remaining at a low cybersecurity readiness. Businesses must adopt a more proactive approach given the emergence of new cybersecurity risks. The number of cybersecurity professionals can be increased by raising awareness and education. Read more here.

DICT still perfecting digital vax certificate issuance

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it was still perfecting the system for the issuance of digital vaccination certificates through a mobile phone application. VaxCertPH system was ready but was confronted by a “challenge” in the linkages between Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS) central database. Read more here.

Only Philippines, Venezuela yet to allow return to classroom learning

Philippines and Venezuela are the last countries in the world where schools are closed. Kuwait, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia plan to reopen some this month. The government has said it will make a new proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte for at least 120 schools to be allowed to remain open. Read more here.

Comelec to test online voting with US tech firm Voatz

Commission on Elections (Comelec) is hosting a simulation of online voting. It is being eyed as a new platform for Filipinos abroad for the 2025 polls. The trial would be hosted by American firm Voatz. Voatz officials said voters may cast their online ballots either through the company’s app or through a web browser. Read more here.


We are happy to announce that we will be launching our podcast, ANO’NG KONEK? soon! Stay within signal as we explore various socially-relevant issues affecting the digital rights of every Filipino.

The Episode 0: Human Rights in a Digital World will be out soon!

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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 reopening of classes, fintech regulations, consumer woes on the state of telcos in the Philippines: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (1-15 September 2021)

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