Anonymous and the Philippine Cybercrime Act of 2012

I have been writing about the Philippine Cybercrime Act for years. I have always been for the idea behind it. Who shouldn’t be for the idea of protecting women and children? Who shouldn’t be against child prostitution? Who shouldn’t be for fighting the transnational crimes the bill hopes to fight against. And we should give our government and our law enforcement every bit of weapon against the likes of those. I have been against this law from the very beginning because though those are the intent, the language and the direction that the law suggests walk a different path. It fails to recognize the culture and the ecosystem of the Internet. The proponents of the law fail to grasp the nuances of the packet and the data, or that these very internet thrive on argument and debate.

In the past few days, Anonymous has taken action against Philippine Government Websites. The attacks intensified in the last few hours. While I believe the Philippine Cybercrime Act is an affront to democracy, the same could equally be said of Anonymous. Anonymous believes it is doing right by Filipinos. Anonymous believes that by engaging with a war of DDoS can it convince the powers that be, to relent. I can tell you right now, no one wants a gun in their head. Bullying, vandalism, and threats have never made anyone sit down and hash things out. It does quite the opposite.

I can tell you right now, as one of those against the Philippine Cybercrime Act— and this blog— in fact is a member of the broad coalition called the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance, Anonymous threatens the very goal we all set out to accomplish: have the law changed.

We have a government that does listen. We have senators coming out to say: let’s talk. These are the very people who passed this law. And they are coming out to ask: if we did wrong, tell us. Let’s talk. Let’s hash things out. Let’s fix it.

I believe these dialogue, and reaching out is the first of many. I believe that maybe we can bridge the digital divide. We can bridge the power of those of us experimenting on the Internet, and the legislative branch.

These people while they do represent us, can not be expected to understand every nuance of our digital lives. While they are our leaders and representatives, I believe it is cognizant on our part to tell them what ails us.

The Constitution has provision to express our grievance. We’ve tweeted about it. We’ve written letters on this. And many of us have taken to sign a petition before the Supreme Court to be heard. And many of us took to the streets in protest.

The system works. It isn’t perfect. But it works when citizens stand up for what they believe is an affront. When they take to do so in an informed debate.

So keep telling government why the Philippine Cybercrime Act is wrong. Do it in the most creative way you could think of. Engage responsibly, not in hysterics, but in a real, informed discussion.

What anonymous does is simply to fire a gun. What they’ve done quite frankly hurts only the system administrators and the network administrators who had to stay up all night defending those sites as best as they can with the tools that they have. Have you ever stopped to think that those guys believe that this law is also an affront? Do you guys think they’re not fighting it tooth and nail to get the point across to their bosses, and their friends? Do you think those guys have better things to do than sit behind their desk doing their best to defend their sites? They are only against decent people trying to make a tiny dent in the universe.

Ideas not DDoS will win the day.

Constructive debate, not DDoS will win the day.

Both the Philippine Cybercrime Act of 2012 and the actions of Anonymous are an affront to me. They are an affront to common decency, to an informed debate, and to transformative action that many behind the scenes are tirelessly working on to have a clear resolution on this matter.

I believe that the next steps will be crucial. I believe that the only way we can get our message across the digital divide is to come up with a magna carta. A magna carta on Internet Freedom that balances our rights and responsibilities as citizens with the protection afforded to us by government. I believe that such a law must be balanced between fairness and equality for all.

This is why Anonymous is wrong. So I urge you, if you are against the Philippine CyberCrime Law there are many things you can do. First: denounce the action of Anonymous. We do not need Anarchy. We do not need Anonymous to fight a shadow war for us. We do not need hooligans in action. So I urge you to join me. Denounce Anonymous.

This is what we need right now. We need fairness and equality. Second: sign a petition before the Supreme Court, if you can not, call your representatives, write to them— or even the President, and make them care. Third: inform and educate people about the Internet. Why is this law wrong? Fifth: Engage government in constructive, and well-informed debate. Lastly, join us in crafting a magna carta for Internet freedom. This is transformative action. Ideas, not DDoS will win the day.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Very important view. I agree completely. If you want to see advocacy that achieves little but destruction, look at the NPA gangsters. They are not even rebels anymore, having migrated to extortion racketeering and little else. Anonymous risks turning the fence sitters against on-line freedom, not pushing them off.

    I also have confidence that either the Senate, through legislation, or the Supreme Court, through ruling, will rid the nation of this abomination that takes the Philippines, in the enlightened world’s eyes, right back to backward.

    It would also crush the Aquino legacy.

  • I’m liking you more and more Cocoy. Local context, global relevance. Well said mate.

  • Great and informative article, sir. I would also like to add that a debate with our legislators on cyber issues can and will work only if they include technologists who understand the way the Internet and online life works. What happened was that this ‘law’ was such a botch up because the people who made it don’t understand it (not enough to make a law on it, at least). You’re right – firing the proverbial gun solves no problem. Neither will debate, unless both sides understand the core issue. Unfortunately, our lawmakers have shown how terribly lacking they are in technology experts, among themselves specifically.

  • Well said Cocoy.