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Sunday, February 23, 2014

WRITTEN or spoken… if the statement is false and harmful to someone’s reputation, and shared as a result of negligence or malice… that’s defamation.

If written, it’s libel; if spoken, it’s slander. Either way, defamation should be punished, simply because everyone has the right to his/her good name.

May one now be a split personality--respectful and measured in the printed page, but licentious and unbridled in the Internet?


Of course, protests will mount… again, as they did in 2012 when the Cybercrime Protection Law was passed.

Fortunately, the Justice Department has decided to handle the issue on higher ground, instead of meeting head-on the antsy rumblings.

Once in the past, when a COO was told that employees worried whether or not the uniform would be changed, he remarked, “Nindot unta kung ang tanan natong problema pipityugin.”

Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy said the department would focus on more serious crimes like child pornography, human and drug trafficking, financial fraud, hacking, computer fraud, identity theft, and illegal access through computers.

And if we think that’s all there is, let’s think again. Cybercrimes include wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to possess false identification documents, false use of passport, money laundering, unauthorized infection of malware, hijack of Internet traffic for the purpose of online advertising fraud, wire transfers to money mules in the US or elsewhere, bogus software products, fake advertisements, browser hijacking, and stealing then selling user databases.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says that since the suspension in 2012 of the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, cybercrime cases have grown not only in number but also form.

Fact is, the US FBI has identified the Philippines as one of eight countries where an international cybercrime organization extended its operations. Other countries were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Spain and yes, even Switzerland.

No country nor major organization can claim to be safe. Cybercrime victims have included large telecom industries, three major US companies heavily using e-commerce, government agencies, and major providers of investment services.

On the FBI’s top 10 list are nationals from Latvia, the Russian Federation, India, Sweden, El Salvador, Syria and Pakistan.

Expectedly, the criminals are no low-level computer savvies. Rather, Pakistani Noor Aziz Uddin once worked as a businessman in the telecommunications, shipping and restaurant industries. Fellow Pakistani Farhan Ul Arshad worked as a salesman and telecommunications manager.

Swedish Bjorn Daniel Sundin and Indian Shaileshkumar Jain were Internet entrepreneurs prior to victimizing the world in many creative ways.

With a malicious computer code, or malware, Latvian Peteris Sahurovs deliberately infected the computers of people visiting the websites of hotels.

So they could have their computers function again, he required the victims to buy his antivirus software.

If they refused to buy, their computers went crazy with pop-ups declaring “security alerts.” Eventually, they lost access to all their information, data and files in their computers.

Online libel? Pipityugin!


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2014.


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