- Immaturity at its finest: Netizens run amok across boarders via hacking
- An Orwellian Dystopia: Companies requiring access to personal social networks accounts
Scarborough Shoal: the Panatag Shoal as we know it
The Panatag shoal is a triangle shaped chain of reefs and islands surrounding a lagoon covering an area of 150 square kilometers. It attracts fishermen from both China and the Philippines as it is abundant in marine resources. Scarborough is approximately 220 kilometers away from its closest Philippine land mass situated in the Zambales province. As early as 1965, the Philippine Navy constructed an iron tower near the mouth of the Scarborough’s Lagoon.
In 1995, a code of conduct was signed by both China and the Philippines pledging to solve their dispute by peaceful means. Presidents Ramos and Zemin sought joint development of the disputed areas of the South China Sea including Scarborough in 1996. A Philippine Navy ship drove 2 Chinese boats away which led China to file a protest against the Philippines for blocking Chinese civilians from visiting the Shoal in 1997. An RTC in Olongapo and its judge dismissed charges of illegal entry against 21 fishermen in 10 July 1997; these fishermen remain detained however for charges of illegal fishing. In 1998, the Philippine Navy had an increasing number of arrests with respect to Chinese fishermen along the Scarborough area; China later demanded that its fishermen be released as they were fishing in an area that China considers its possession. In 1999, a Chinese fishing boat sank near the Shoal; the Chinese fishermen claim that they were rammed by a Navy ship while the PH Government insists that it was merely an accident.
The year 2000 saw increased activity of Chinese vessels loaded with fish and corals from the Shoal, this led the Philippine Navy to confiscate corals and even apprehend a Chinese boat. The PH Navy rescues and apprehends 14 Chinese fishermen who claimed to be taking shelter at the Shoal; this eventually led to the PH Foreign Secretary along with ASEAN and China signing “Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” which enjoins all claimants from occupying and undertaking activities in the disputed chain of islets. The UN Convention on the Law of the Seas requires that an archipelagic nation must have a definitive law as to its baselines; this was discussed in Congress in 2008 to harmonize the archipelagic baselines without jeopardizing the Philippines’ claim on the Shoal. 2009 saw the enactment of “Philippine Archipelagic Baselines law” which excluded Scarborough; this of course was met with a lot of criticism from several Congressmen.
In 2011, Masinloc Town (in Zambales) through its Provincial Board and Vice Governor sought to strengthen the PH’s claim over the Shoal via its Resolution No. 62-11. In June 16, 2011, the PH Navy’s oldest warship conducts patrols over the Shoal as China on the other hand dispatched its largest maritime patrol ship to Singapore while passing through the West PH Sea. 2012 saw the PH Navy in spotting 8 Chinese fishing vessels anchored at the Shoal. Chinese vessels were inspected and found to have collected large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks. To prevent the arrests of Chinese fishermen, 2 Chinese maritime surveillance ships positioned themselves between the PH warship and the Chinese vessels. President Aquino then asserts that “What is important here is that we take care of our sovereignty. We cannot give the Scarborough Shoal away and we cannot depend on others but ourselves”. (Inquirer Research 2012)
In gaining support for our claim for the Shoal, can we expect anything from our supposedly dear ally called the US of A? According to Harry Roque, the US opted to be neutral on this issue. As our water boundaries have not become a party to the UN Law of the Sea, the US refuses to recognize such. Any act of China though that would impede the freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea may lead the US out of its neutral stance if it would pose as a threat to its national interest. Our policy makers appealed to the US for military assistance to resolve this dispute which was in short ill advised since such an act is illegal under international law unless in self defense. Harry Roque goes on to say that it is the time to submit this controversy to mandatory and compulsory jurisdiction of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. (Roque 2012)
At this point, it would be an understatement to say that as between the Philippines and China, the Shoal is a controversial and recurring topic. The whole fiasco has reached the minds of the citizens of both countries through of course the Internet, its respective media and government. A glimpse of misplaced nationalism then on the part of either country’s citizens is not a far off occurrence.
Chinese Hackers @ UP: (ViA tHe iNtErNeT)
The official website of the University of the Philippines System was defaced (3 a.m. Friday, 20 April 2012). While the homepage still carried the site masthead and its contents, the center contents were replaced by an image of the West Philippine Sea with a caption in Chinese character. The caption posted says “We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours!”. This forced the website to experience downtime. The Vice President for Public Affairs of UP Diliman said that “No vital data in the server was compromised, according to the University Computer Center”. The VP was alerted on the matter through media practitioners and UP officials who came across the website. (Aurelio 2012)
PH Hackers: hacking back the hackers iNdiReCtLy
A day following the defacement of the UP website saw Pinoys vandalizing several Chinese websites. “Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines” attacked the China University Media Union site, replacing its homepage content with a digitized image of a Guy Fawkes mask, which symbolizes global protest hacking group Anonymous. Their message: “Chinese government is clearly retarded. Scarborough Shoal is ours!”. Hackers also broke into a Chinese government site, http://gh.rc.gov.cn/, and posted a map of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). “You got fucked by the Philippines! Spratly Island Is OURS!,” they wrote. The other hacked Chinese sites are http://www.lanseyinxiang.com/, v.cyol.com, http://sanxinsudi.com, ploft.cn and ryjzw.com (Montecillo et al. 2012)
UP’s official statement re: website hacking
The UP Administration called on the Filipinos to stop defacing Chinese websites in retaliation to the hacking of the UP website. UP President Alfredo Pascual said that “[we] are more sensible than this, and our expertise is better used in productive endeavors. We appeal to the public to avoid jumping to conclusions and taking actions that could further inflame people’s sentiments, particularly on the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China. Giving the perceived ‘enemies’ a dose of their own medicine by hacking their alleged country’s websites achieves nothing but unproductive counter-actions”. (philSTAR.com 2012)
The E-Commerce Act vis a vis the act of Chinese Hackers
Under (R.A. 8792), “hacking” is defined by Section 33 (a):
“Hacking or crackling with 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;”
The same law also defines what an “information and communication system” is: (Section 5)
(c) “Information and Communications System” refers to a system for generating, sending, receiving, storing, or otherwise processing electronic documents and includes the computer system or other similar device by or in which data is recorded or stored and any procedures related to the recording or storage of electronic document.
Under the Philippine Jurisdiction, the defacing of a website is indeed considered “hacking”. The act described as “defacing” based on the news reports above mentioned, involved the Chinese hackers in gaining unauthorized access in terms of the homepage of the website (which is an information and communication system), these hackers were able to tamper with and post the image of their choosing on a site not theirs. The owner of the website (UP) did not know that it’s homepage was being compromised as the UP Administration only found out after media practitioners and UP officials told them of the defacing. It is clear then, that hacking is both defined and punished in the Philippines.
It must be asked however if these Chinese hackers can be prosecuted in the Philippines.
Cyber crime in China (an excerpt from Yong Pi)
The relevant Chinese criminal laws which are specific to Cybercrime are Articles 285, 286 and 287 of “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China”, as well as the “Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Ensuring the Internet Security”. The crime of infringing on the security of computer information system in Article 285, 286 of “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China” include the crime of illegally invading computer information system and the crime of destroying or damaging computer information system. The offenders, who use internet to commit the crime mentioned above, shall be convicted and punished in accordance with the above two offences. Article 287 of “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China” and the “Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Ensuring the Internet Security” indicate that by using computer or internet anyone, whose conduct brings serious damage to the society and is convicted a crime rather than which mentioned above, shall be criminally responsible in accordance with the relevant criminal laws. So Article 287 and the Decision together with other relevant criminal provisions are about other computer and internet related network crime. (Yong)
China-Philippines Extradition Treaty
Extradition involves the surrender of an individual by the state within whose territory he is found to the state under whose laws he is alleged to have commited a crime. Such a process must be governed by a treaty. Its procedure is usually done through diplomatic channels. Generally, both Religious and Political offenses are not extraditable. (Bernas 2002)
At present, there exists an Extradition Treaty between China and the Philippines. Article 2 of the same contains the Extraditable offenses. (1) of Article 2 states that “An offense shall be an extraditable offense if it is punishable under the laws of both Parties by imprisonment for a period more than one year, or by a more severe penalty.” (China-Philippines Extradition Treaty)
In the Philippines, RA 8792′s section 33 (a) features an imprisonment ranging from 6 months to 3 years. While on the other hand China’s Article 286 of its Criminal Law states that “Whoever, in violation of state’s stipulations, deletes, amends, adds or disturbs functions of a computer information system and causes the computer information system’s inability to work normally shall, if serious consequences exist, be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years or criminal detention. If especially serious consequences exist, the offender shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years.”
According to Fr. Bernas, differences in the legal system may pose an obstacle as to what the crime is. Obviously there are startling differences between RA 8792′S 33 (a) and China’s Criminal Law Article 286. It must be said as well that extradition usually is made pursuant to diplomatic channels.
The Internet as a technological revolution brings about new legal problems that were not even conceivable a few years back. Legal dilemmas such as that of cyber crime with respect to jurisdiction and extraterritoriality will best be tackled through a legal framework not just exclusive to one country but more importantly with considerations as to a new International Law Legal frame work for cross country implementation. I say this because a hacker committing cyber crime maybe continents away from his victim. In this case of defacement of an internet site, let us be practical and put it at a rest since the damage caused was thankfully next to non-existent as the VP for Public Affairs did say that “No vital data in the server was compromised, according to the University Computer Center”. If the offense however was something concerning a high cost damage suit, the topic would have gone in different way as there have been various articles and Jurisprudence concerning cross country copyright infringement suits in the US while tackling as well extraterritoriality due to the act being done via the internet.
- Inquirer Research. (2012) Scarborough shoal standoff: A timeline. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Roque, Harry. (2012) US neutrality in Scarborough: blessing or bane? Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Aurelio, Julie M. (2012) UP site hacked over Scarborough Shoal. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Montecillo, Paolo G. and France-Presse, Agence. (2012) Filipino hackers fight back, deface Chinese sites. INQUIRER.net Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- philSTAR.com (2012) UP statement on the defacement of its website. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- R.A. 8792. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- China-Philippines Extradition Treaty. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Bernas, Fr. Joaquin G. (2002) An Introduction to Public International Law. Rex Bookstore.
- Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Yong, Pi. Comparative Research on “Convention on Cybercrime” and Chinese Relevant Legislation. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
The question in the long format
In this era where social media has gone mainstream and generally embraced by the public, may companies require applicants company access to personal social network accounts in compliance with hiring policies and employment?
Big Brother and the issue of Privacy
Obviously, a requirement as to company access is an invasion of an individual’s right to privacy. Such a requirement should not be allowed. In the alternative, with regard to a company standpoint, the best would be a monitoring policy that protects what is of interest to the company while not impinging on the privacy of its employees.
Such a requirement shrieks of Eric Blair’s (a.k.a. George Orwell) famous novel where he depicts a dystopian society marked by a society under surveillance by its government. Civil liberties are next to none existent in “1984” as the government rewrites history at its convenience while totally suppressing freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and even the right to be let alone. In other words, it portrays a regime that can intrude into the lives of its citizens limited only by its capacity to do so.
While what is concerned here is a company policy rather than the government policy, there is even more reason to go against such a requirement. The government in involving itself or intruding into the lives of its citizens supposes that it does so pursuant to its ends, which in general is for its survival (life blood theory) and more logically for the welfare of the general populace. It must be said however that any worker has his life involved ultimately with his job. The company then has a major influence on the life of any employee as all his activities are in one way or another related to his job. For the company to restrict the workers right to privacy would be unfair as it would practically deprive him of the right to enjoy even his own individuality.
In lieu of the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution, company access to personal social networking accounts is just too much. Section 1 talks of “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” while Section 4 states “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The Zones of Privacy are also found mainly in Section 2 (safe guards against unreasonable searches and seizures), Section 3 (Privacy of communication which extends to all its forms whether tangible or not). From all these sections, the common theme is state intrusion into the privacy of its citizen. (Padiernos 2004:1 ) What is apparent is that, the constitution has been armed with safeguards to guard against its capacity for intrusion. That such freedom may only be bypassed depending on very specific exceptions and reasons expressly provided for by the constitution. These restrictions are placed upon the government itself. If that is so for the government then what more for companies & private corporations when it comes to intrusion into an individuals private life.
The Philippines as part of the family of nations also adheres to the promotion of fundamental freedoms espoused by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The New Civil Code even provides that” every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons.” (Padiernos 2004:2 )
Companies vis a vis social network policies
A friend of mine works in a well known accounting firm. He is currently in a managerial position which requires him to keep employees under his watch in line. There was one time when he shared to me that he had to reprimand one of the persons under his watch due to detrimental comments toward their company over a famous social networking site. Perhaps that occurrence talks a lot about the current state of affairs between most individuals and their behavior online in relation to their jobs.
In an article by Heidi Carpenter, a Commercial Law Attorney, she says that social media has become so common place that many employees engage in its use at a daily basis. Employees however, demonstrate poor judgment while using social media by assuming that their posts are private while confidential information is unintentionally shared. She suggests a general guideline as to the use of social media, the salient portions of which are:
- Providing a social media policy – one that states the company’s concerns
- Protect trade secrets – consider the company’s policy on confidential information and apply it to the social media policy
- Train key employees – Supervisors should receive comprehensive training in ensuring legal compliance with the execution of social media policy
- Consistently monitor – Creating a system for monitoring employees’ social media use
On the other hand, do not seek protected information about an employee. Do not punish employee’s for lawful activities (e.g. consumption of alcohol during nonworking hours). Do not violate privacy as employees may expect that their social media activities are private and may limit unauthorized access. (Carpenter 2012)
It would seem then that the current trend is that monitoring of social media is at the level of protecting a company’s activities, its operations, its business, its image, and at some point the behavior of its employees with regard to efficiency. More importantly, there is still a recognition of an employees’ privacy toward his social network account.
Only a few decades ago, letters and telegrams comprised the bulk of how persons from two different places communicated with each other. More recently came the telephones that allowed for a great substitute to actually communicating with an individual personally. Nowadays, the Internet through social media allows for a different kind of communication with a plethora of modes ranging from chat, image sharing, private messaging, link sharing, and even one version or another of Skype. As social media is widely available to the public, it of course has become even a past time and a source of recreation to all those who use it. Whether it be sharing an your ideas, something you feel passionately about, something concerning your life, or even something as trivial as a joke, you should be able to interact with society as you like. (as far as it is legally permissible of course)
- Padiernos, Maria Cecilia R. (2004) The Right to be Let Alone: A Re-Evaluation. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- Carpenter, Heidi A. (2012) Considerations For Social Media Use In The Workplace. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from
- 1987 Constitution. Retrieved 25 May 2012 from