ED­I­TO­RIAL! Re­sist cy­ber-im­punity

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! -

SI­LENCE is con­sent.

The re­cent civil case filed by al­ter­na­tive me­dia against com­pa­nies ac­cused of launch­ing cy­ber-at­tacks on their web­sites is set­ting a prece­dent as the first le­gal ac­tion taken by dig­i­tal jour­nal­ists to re­sist the cy­ber-im­punity that at­tempts to sti­fle press free­dom and dis­sent.

Last March 29, al­ter­na­tive me­dia “Bu­lat­lat,” “Ko­dao Pro­duc­tions,” “Pi­noy Weekly” and “Al­ter­midya”filed a civil com­plaint at the Que­zon City Re­gional Trial Court, charg­ing the IP Con­verge Data Ser­vices Inc. and the Su­ni­way Group of Com­pa­nies for con­duct­ing since De­cem­ber 2018 Dis­trib­uted De­nial of Ser­vice At­tacks (DDos), which has the ef­fect of “flood­ing the server of a web­site with traf­fic,”re­ported the Cen­ter for Me­dia Free­dom and Re­spon­si­bil­ity (CMFR).

The same CMFR re­port quoted “Al­ter­midya” na­tional co­or­di­na­tor Rhea Padilla as say­ing that the case is the “first civil com­plaint (taken) against cy­ber-at­tack­ers.”

The me­dia ad­vo­cacy group quoted the “Pi­noy Weekly” state­ment point­ing out that the civil com­plaint “should serve as a warn­ing to these ne­far­i­ous forces (in­clud­ing the Duterte regime’s troll army and cy­ber at­tack­ers) to de­sist in their ac­tions that cur­tail our fun­da­men­tal free­doms be­cause we will fight back.”

“Do not feed the trolls” has been a com­mon stance taken by jour­nal­ists, Ne­ti­zens, and other mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety whose ar­ti­cles, blog posts, and web­sites have been hit by re­ac­tions ex­press­ing abuse and in­ci­vil­ity, with many ha­rass­ing and threat­en­ing bod­ily harm, rape and vi­o­lence against those ex­press­ing views con­trary to those of the trolls or their em­ploy­ers.

Ig­nor­ing the trolls means deny­ing them a re­ac­tion, which, in terms of on­line en­gage­ment, coun­ters the con­tin­ued circulation of the trolls’ ac­tiv­ity. A more as­sertive ap­proach has been to re­port a post or Ne­ti­zen as abu­sive and re­quest the web­site or so­cial me­dia ad­min­is­tra­tor to take down the post or block the Ne­ti­zen.

On the other hand, on­line ci­vil­ity of­ten achieves its pur­pose of in­tim­i­dat­ing per­sons from ex­press­ing their sen­ti­ments and rais­ing thought­ful, ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sion and build­ing of con­sen­sus on matters of in­ter­est to per­sons or the pub­lic. Trauma from on­line in­ci­vil­ity has driven many Ne­ti­zens to avoid on­line dis­course or limit their par­tic­i­pa­tion to closed groups, which se­lect mem­bers and limit ac­cess only to them.

In light of the gen­er­ally de­fen­sive steps taken by civil so­ci­ety to safe­guard their rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and par­tic­i­pa­tion in open and ra­tio­nal dis­course, the al­ter­na­tive me­dia fil­ing the civil suit against the two firms charged for in­sti­gat­ing cy­ber­at­tacks per­formed a pub­lic ser­vice, es­pe­cially given the lack of will and ac­tion taken by the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment the law on cy­ber-crimes.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle posted on www.qurium.org, the Na­tional Com­puter Emer­gency Re­sponse Team of the Philip­pines (CERTPH), which is man­dated to han­dle cy­ber-crimes, had shown “lit­tle in­ter­est” in the case de­spite

the con­cerned par­ties’ini­ti­a­tion of “mul­ti­ple at­tempts to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion based on the foren­sics pro­vided by Qurium.”

The CMFR re­port men­tioned that the al­ter­na­tive me­dia out­fits were as­sisted by their Swedish part­ner Qurium Me­dia Foun­da­tion, which con­ducted the foren­sic study, and the Na­tional Union of Peo­ple’s Lawyers (NUPL) in fil­ing the com­plaint. Qurium is a found­ing mem­ber of CiviCERT, a CERT for civil so­ci­ety.

The Qurium traced the Philip­pine at­tacker as P4p3r, who was “so cer­tain of his im­punity that he did not go to the dark web to find a so­lu­tion” for his em­ployer’s or­der to take down the web­sites of in­de­pen­dent me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and jour­nal­ists’as­so­ci­a­tions, which were crit­i­cal of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Civil so­ci­ety acted de­ci­sively to pro­tect what is es­sen­tial for democ­racy: free­dom of ex­pres­sion to mon­i­tor and hold the pow­er­ful accountable to the pub­lic.— Sun­nex

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