POSTSCRIPT / May 16, 2000 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Who'll protect students from overreaching FBI?

THIS being a rainy day, let’s change the subject for a while.

We hied over to the cybertambayan1 of the Pinoys55 (the UP-based Brotherhood of the Filipinos) and found this item from Albert Ong of Cebu’s Penshoppe titled “Strange Laws”:

In Lebanon, men are legally allowed to have sex with animals, but the animals must be female. Having sexual relations with a male animal is punishable by death.

In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman’s genitals, but is prohibited from looking directly at them during the examination. He may only see their reflection in a mirror.

Muslims are banned from looking at the genitals of a corpse. This also applies to undertakers; who must cover the sex organs of the deceased with a brick or piece of wood at all times.

The penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is decapitation.

There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time. Reason: Under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry.

In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. The husband’s lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner.

Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England — but only in tropical fish stores.

In Cali, Colombia, a woman may only have sex with her husband, and the first time this happens, her mother must be in the room to witness the act.

In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, it is illegal for a man to have sex with a woman and her daughter at the same time.

In Maryland, it is illegal to sell condoms from vending machines with one exception: prophylactics may be dispensed from a vendo only “in places where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption in the premises.”

(Sorry, we’ve not been to most of these interesting places and cannot vouch for the veracity of this report. But we know Albert (Pinoy81) to be quite a reliable source. – fdp)

* * *

WITH that breaker, let’s go back to the topic of the day – the war.

Aren’t we lucky that there are a number of solicitous foreign entities and individuals helping us with our problems?

So while our President Estrada is enjoying his China visit, while he is downing Mao brake fluid in state functions and ejaculating kampai!, several foreign personages are in Mindanao busy solving Estrada’s problems with Muslim insurgents.

Hordes of foreign journalists have descended on Mindanao, shooting to the waiting world stories, pictures, film clips and other documentation of how the Philippines is being torn apart by its own citizens and officials.

Among the foreign entities around is the US Central Intelligence Agency, which is reportedly monitoring the field performance of its former Abu Sayyaf cadres originally recruited for mercenary missions in Afghanistan.

* * *

IN Manila, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation is breathing down the neck of our National Bureau of Investigation to produce an air-tight criminal case against some students whose experiment in cyberspace had backfired.

Why don’t we just drop all pretense and turn over the administration to foreign advisers and technicians? That’s what new emerging nations that are somewhat awed by the intricacies of statecraft do.

* * *

WE do not condone crime, even one committed “by accident” — as the AMA students suspected of unleashing the ILOVEYOU computer virus claim they might have done.

But we have to admit that there is that little corner in our heart that beats for them. Who is protecting these tender youths from an overreaching FBI?

What exactly was on that search warrant used to raid their apartment and cart away their personal belongings?

I’m not so sure the judge who signed that warrant knew enough about computers and the Internet to ascertain there was a justifiable legal reason to raid the house. We hope the judge was not merely rushed into signing it.

That raid and the combing of the items taken from the students look to us like a fishing expedition than a seizure of specified evidence of wrongdoing. The investigators are still sifting through the confiscated items in the hope of stumbling on evidence.

* * *

THEY seize your personal belongings and then that’s the only time they look for evidence among your things? That’s not fair! It may even be illegal.

Somebody should step in and make sure those kids get a very good lawyer. If they were children of some senator, FBI interlopers would not have been able to do what they did.

* * *

WITH the students’ computer in the hands of the FBI, what will now stop the American agents from writing a copy of the ILOVYOU virus into the hard disk of the machine and then point to it as the incriminating proof?

What will stop investigators who are being pressed to produce a case for Bill Gates from writing similar incriminating LuvBug patterns in one of the diskettes taken from the kids?

Even a computer school freshman could do that with one hand tied behind his back. This chore is much easier than putting the head of Ruffa Gutierrez on the naked torso of a woman of the same body proportions and launching the masterpiece into cyberspace.

It’s been more than a week since the raid on the students’ apartment. In a few days, we might see a parade of alleged evidence suddenly emerging from the materials taken from the students’ apartment.

* * *

THE clumsy hit and miss manner of the investigation is evident from the first-day presentation to the press of the supposed LuvBug creator. After nailing him as the culprit, however, investigators later had to admit that they might have been mistaken.

He was hurriedly replaced as prime suspect by another student whose thesis was found belatedly to be about creating a virus. To this second student was added a girl and several friends who are also AMA students.

The other students were dragged in simply because they were members of a group that made term papers and wrote software/programs for school requirements and some paying clients.

The explanation given was that the name of their group was found in some of the diskettes. Besides, the simplistic argument went, if they could write commercial software, they must be capable of writing a virus program.

* * *

ONE sidelight that psychologists should look into is why in this country touted to be the source of the LuvBug, hardly do we hear of anybody having been devastated by the ILOVEYOU virus.

While this country apparently missed or maybe ignored the ILOVEYOU come-on of the virus, thousands in the high-tech First World fell for it and passed it on. Top security establishments were hit. Damage has been estimated at more than $7 billion!

There is actually nothing spectacular about the ILOVEYOU virus, which resembles earlier viruses also attacking and using Microsoft Outlook of Bill Gates. It must have been its enticing ILOVEYOU subject line that hooked the victims.

No wonder the FBI and their client Bill Gates are mad. They and their ilk had been exposed as gullible and vulnerable.

* * *

THE students committed no crime here (because there is no local law declaring it a crime to write a virus program). Will it then be right to deliver them to the FBI for indictment under American law? Huwag naman.

Maybe we can just sentence them to five years at hard labor with the National Computer Center where their talents could be directed to more positive and socially redeeming endeavors.

Just make sure they are not harnessed surreptitiously to work on some shady Sulo (rhymes with Puno) dagdag-bawas operation in the coming elections.

As for AMA of the amable Aguiluz clan, school officials can stop declaring they do not condone student misbehavior. Naniniwala na po kami. But, really, AMA should take a bow. We won’t be surprised if their enrollment jumps in the next term.

* * *

IT’S common knowledge in the industry that Bill Gates pays P100,000 to any Filipino agent who catches somebody using a pirated copy of Microsoft programs. That’s per person per copy.

If a youngish NBI techie walks into a cybercafe or a computer parlor, pays and tinkers with the equipment and uncovers some units using pirated software, he would be richer by several hundred thousand pesos for an hour’s surveillance.

One of the common violations is the use on several computers of one and the same copy of a licensed operating system (such as Bill Gates’ Windows 98) and a software (such as Bill Gates’ Office 97/2000).

If the agent finds the same Windows or Office program installed in, say, 10 units in a computer parlor, that would be a million pesos (10 x P100,000) in less than a day’s work.

The rewards for American agents must be bigger. How much do you think are the FBI agents carrying as pabaon of Bill Gates to send them on a hunting frenzy in Manila?

* * *

POSTSCRIPT: Since not even war seems to be able to stop him and his troupe from visiting China, we can only say Bon Voyage to President Estrada! Sir, go easy on that brake fluid they would ply you with at state dinners and receptions. Sabagay, no aging Chinese official could beat our Erap in that tippling department.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 16, 2000)

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