[Mirror] Estoya-Bautista, Gelanderwin

Summer 2012

Are the Philippine Laws on Hacking Enough?

Last April 20, 2012, Chinese hacktivists defaced the University of the Philippine’s (UP) website as a way of telling the Filipinos that Scarborough Shoal is theirs and not the Philippines’. The Filipinos, patriotic as they can be, and as eager as the Chinese to show their sovereignty, retaliated by hacking Chinese websites too, to show that they may intimidate the Filipinos in claiming the rich Scarborough Shoal but hacking Philippine websites is a no-no.

If at all, we could trace who the hackers are, can we make them liable? Are our laws sufficient enough to convict them?

On June 14, 2000, Congress passed into law RA 8792, otherwise known as the “Electronic Commerce Act” defining and penalizing among others hacking and cracking computer systems. Specifically, Section 33 of said Act provides:

SECTION 33. (a) Hacking or cracking which refers to unauthorized access into or interference in a computer system/server or information and communication system; or any access in order to corrupt, alter, steal, or destroy using a computer or other similar information and communication devices, without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the computer or information and communications system, including the introduction of computer viruses and the like, resulting in the corruption, destruction, alteration, theft or loss of electronic data messages or electronic documents shall be punished by a minimum fine of One Hundred Thousand pesos (P 100,000.00) and a maximum commensurate to the damage incurred and a mandatory imprisonment of six (6) months to three (3) years;

In the above stated law, are the Chinese covered by this? Do we have jurisdiction over those who committed the act in China over the Philippine websites? Article 14 of the Civil Code of the Philippines states, ” Penal laws and those of public security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who live or sojourn in Philippine territory subject to the principles of public international law and to treaty stipulations.” Granting, arguendo that they are liable and we do have jurisdiction over the Chinese hackers brought about by a treaty or any agreement that both the Philippines and China are bound, can we use Electronic Evidence in our Courts of Justice?

In Rustan Ang v. CA, the Supreme Court through Justice Abad held that ” The Rules on Electronic Evidence applies only to civil actions, quasi-judicial proceedings, and administrative proceedings.”

Clearly, our laws on hacking are not sufficient enough. What then can we do now knowing that such laws are not enough to deter or penalize hackers or hacktivists in situations like these?

I think we can make them liable if the legislators will pass a law supplementing RA 8792, that will oversee all forms of hacking, cracking or other crimes using the Internet and which also conforms to international standards. The scope of the Rules on Electronic Evidence should also be amended so as to cover criminal cases. Lastly, our country should also make treaties or agreements with other nations relating to the issue so as to address problems like these and to further strengthen our laws on cybercrime.

A Friend or a Foe?

Social media and internet tools have been the repository of information or data of people these days. Some people couldn’t live a day without opening their accounts in the internet, be it Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, or Yahoo to name a few. People rely on the internet for their business transactions. Others as a means of communication. Some use it as a means to say what they feel or what they’re doing or up to. Some use it to praise or defame others. To top the list, they use the internet as a search tool for anything.

Lately, some companies were heard to have been requiring their applicants to disclose their social media accounts to the point of asking the latter to accept them as friends in the social network they are in.

Social media networks and internet search tools could either mislead the company making them lose the chance of having the best applicant, or the applicant would lose his chance of being accepted because of the said matter.

To require applicants to disclose their social media account as well as to have an access to it would be a violation of the privacy of a person.

Likewise, said requirement to an applicant tends to discriminate a person with disability especially when he has uploaded a picture in the internet of himself and companies would just look into his physical appearance not considering his capabilities beyond reproach that can only be determined and observed during an interview. In an interview, the interviewer can personally size up the applicant just like observing a witness during a trial.

Some people use the internet by posting comments or blogs or information regarding a person making it an avenue to introduce information which is prejudicial to the personality or image or interest of the applicant or which is damaging or discriminatory to him. By using the internet as a search tool in determining the best applicant would make people or companies believe that the personality depicted is really his true character What may be portrayed in the internet could be a misconception of the person.

Due to reasons cited, social media networks and internet search tools cannot be relied on in determining the most suitable applicant needed by companies.

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