Much ado about the cybercrime law (Whatever happened to Onel?)

Years ago, when Onel de Guzman launched the ILOVEYOU virus onto cyberspace, he crashed computers worldwide.

Later, the world discovered that a Filipino student unleashed this virus, which lured people to clicking an email attachment from a friend with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.”

A media frenzy followed. All eyes were on the Philippines, a country that earned a bad reputation for launching such as devastating computer virus.

Sadly, as cases mounted against Onel de Guzman, the country had no laws that would help government prosecute him. Thus, the E-commerce Law was passed under the watch of former President Joseph Estrada. But the laws were not retroactive. So De Guzman was never charged and government prosecutors had to let him go.

Years after the ILOVEYOU virus debacle, government convicted a Filipino found to have attacked the gov.ph website. It was the first successful conviction that used the E-commerce Law.

Efforts to push for a cybercrime law in the Philippines have been happening since the early 1990s. Back then when I was still chasing technology stories, I remember a group of security experts and government volunteers working together to draft the law that was consistent with Cybercrime laws from around the world.

So in fairness to the people who started this, the intent was clear and good in the beginning.

Now, we have this controversial Cybercrime Law, which has earned mounting opposition from different sectors.

Senators who signed this bill into a law have recently suggested that they made a mistake. Some admitted that they even didn’t read the whole bill. Hmmm.

It’s sad that this law which was meant to protect us from cybercriminals is earning bad rap in the country.

But as they say, strike when the iron is hot. This should also be a good opportunity for the original proponents to start educating the public about cybercrimes, and why the law is needed.

Several groups have recently emerged on Facebook, including this one, which is a good place to start more discussions about this law, and what’s wrong with it.

No law is perfect.

(Update) Pinoy wins cybersecurity award

(UPDATE) Filipino cybercrime forensic investigator Alex Ramos who has been named one of six finalists in the prestigious cybersecurity award wins.
Excerpt:

A Filipino cybercrime investigator has been named one of the finalists in an annual award given to cybercrime forensic investigators, INQUIRER.net has learned.

Alex Ramos is vying for the 2007 Timothy Fidel Memorial Award, according to a statement released by Guidance Software Inc, a copy of which was obtained by INQUIRER.net. Ramos participated in the analysis of digital evidence regarding a “multi-jurisdictional investigation” involving the phreaking of 7,000 voicemail and PBX systems worldwide, including systems in the Philippines.

The winner of the award will be named during the sixth annual Computer Enterprise Investigations Conference (CEIC) in Loews Lake, Las Vegas resort, on May 7.

Getting porn trackbacks (HELP?!)

I remember writing a story about a Philippine newsmagazine website getting porn trackbacks last week. Today, when I checked my e-mail, I got more than 10 trackbacks from porn websites! Now, I have to turn off the trackback option. It was irritating to delete each of them.

That’s blog technology for you. Trackbacks are meant to allow people to link their articles to your own. This promotes some sort of a conversation online. But apparently porn websites are abusing this feature, and using it to link back amusing entries to your past entries.

If anyone out there knows how to stop this please let me know. By the way, I’ve also turned on the moderation so please be patient. I will be moderating all the comments (which is not an easy job btw) coming in, now that the porn sites are on to me…

Unionbank: ‘System maintenance’ downs ATMs

What do they mean by “system maintenance?” Can they just say, “We’re having problems with our system and you won’t be able to access it.” Simple English and easy to understand. Such euphemisms can be irritating and confusing for most people.

Last week, I got calls and was informed about the trouble Unionbank of the Philippines account holders were experiencing. So today, we checked what the ruckus was about, thus our story. Excerpt:

UNIONBANK of the Philippines, through its customer services group acknowledged that its automated teller machine (ATM) network went down last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, INQUIRER.net learned.

“As of this moment, we’re doing system maintenance. But you should be able to gain access to your ATM account for withdrawals only,” a customer service representative told INQUIRER.net on Monday.

This is not really the first time Unionbank suffered a major network problem. I wrote a story last year that revealed that thousands of balance inquiries and withdrawals by government employees and private sector employees created a major headache for the local bank.

This recent development prompted one of my colleagues to ask: is Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas penalizing local banks for not being able to provide quality of service for days? Well, at least the telecommunications companies are penalized.

Slow Internet days remain

Have you grown tired of a slow Internet? Apparently, we will have to endure this dragging cyberlife because of the ongoing repairs of undersea cables broken during the Taiwan quake in December last year, as I wrote earlier.

One Philippine Internet service provider, in fact, has spoken indicating that they continue to endure the impact of the Asia-wide slowdown of Internet services, despite efforts to reroute Internet traffic to other networks. Here’s a quote from Jason Yu, director of the Philippine Internet Service Organization, a group of Philippine-based ISPs:

[M]ost ISPs still suffer from latency, or lag in their bandwidth due to congestion in cables that are carrying the extra bandwidth. But he said some telecommunication providers are locking down bandwidth-intensive websites to lessen the congestion, in particular is the video website Youtube.