Hackers from around the globe intensified its “hacking spree” on government websites as the Philippines officially implemented its Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 on Wednesday, October 3.
The hackers who identified themselves “Anonymous Worldwide” joined forces with “Anonymous Philippines” defacing already numerous government sites since last week as a form of protest.
Hackers then replaced the government online sites with a predominantly black interface, an animated logo and a statement against the Cybercrime law.
On Tuesday evening five more websites were hacked, including gov.ph –official online gazette of the Office of the President.
The sites however were restored early Wednesday.
The Cybercrime law newly signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III whose parents were both champion of democracy in the country –his father Benigno Aquino Jr. was tortured and killed during Martial law and his mother former Pres. Cory Aquino regarded as hero of People Power revolution in 1986—is met with nationwide protest due to its ambiguous provisions on online libel which pose “serious threats to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expressions, among other civil and political rights.”
The Cybercrime Law is a form of “E-Martial Law,” as it has forms of suppression on civil and political rights like during the military dictatorship imposed by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, rights group Karapatan said.
Ironically, the Cybercrime law signed this year coincided with the 40th year of the declaration of Martial Law.
Netizens, journalists and rights groups also continue its protest by turning their social media sites like Facebook profile and status into color black.
On Tuesday Kabataan partylist filed the sixth petition at the Supreme court calling the law unconstitutional and demanding its online libel provisions scraped.
Earlier senator Teofisto Guingona III also filed a petition for the scrapping of the law.
While Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance-a group of netizens, journalists, bloggers, and rights groups also continue its protest online and on the streets.
The public become wary of the said law as its online libel provisions give free control on state forces and authorities to “monitor data accessed by internet users,” not to mention bring down sites which deem “libelous.”
In the provisions, one tweet or facebook like/share of deemed libelous post could even land a netizen on jail for 12 years.
The Philippines, which enjoys the reputation as one of the freest countries in the world, is also known to be one of the most active social media users among 49 countries in a Digital Life survey 2011.
“This has far-reaching implications on the work of human rights defenders, as this further impedes on our right to articulate the facts on the human rights situation that we gather on the ground and our analyses on the situation. This constitutes several violations of international human rights conventions and declarations, including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of which the Philippines, as a signatory, has the obligation to implement,” rights group Karapatan said a statement.
This on top of the declaration of international rights observer New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) who said that the law violated the Philippines’ constitution, also urging the government to “repeal or replace” it.
In a report, HRW-Asia director Brad Adams said the Cybercrime prevention Act “violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government’s obligations under international law.”
However Justice secretary Leila de Lima has shown no sign of stopping the implementation of the said law.
She also announced that the government has already been training additional investigators and prosecutors to “track down” cyber-offenders.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sitting en banc has decided to hear the several petitions next month.