POSTSCRIPT / October 5, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Usernames hide libelous bloggers

WRITING ahead of the Senate hearing yesterday on so-called “fake news” that had upset several senators, we highlight the need for strengthening the law on libel to make easier the identification of rogue bloggers and other social media abusers.

It is unfair that the authors of defamation in social media hide behind cryptic usernames or aliases, making it difficult (but not impossible) for the victims to trace their tormentors and haul them to court.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the committee on public information and mass media, was among senators tagged as Malacañang lapdogs in a Facebook page of a certain “Silent No More” for not signing a resolution denouncing the killing of suspected drug pushers/users. Some senators said they could not have signed, because the paper was not presented to them.

More important than their bruised feelings is the need to keep the Revised Penal Code, particularly its sections on slander and libel, in step with the advances in information technology. The code was originally written in the context of traditional print and broadcast media.

With the blurring of geographical boundaries in this shrinking global village, a blogger or internet user can send from anywhere a message to anyone in real time. It is not always certain where a blogger or a twitter is actually uploading his posts.

In Philippine jurisprudence where jurisdiction is a basic issue, a blogger libeling people may be able to escape prosecution – for a time, at least — if his identity and location cannot be established soon enough.

A related crime is tax-evasion. Many bloggers earn good money from the advertising that their websites attract as their following grows. Some of them do not bother to pay tax on that revenue as they keep their identity and location secret.

The senators who felt offended by the lapdog tag cannot quickly react by, say, hailing to court whoever is “Silent No More” – a username of someone who pretends to want to tell the world he/she is no longer afraid to speak up, but won’t give his/her identity and location.

• Cyberwar rages around Duterte

THE CYBERWAR raging between the attackers and defenders of the Duterte administration has been polluting media space with false reports, character assassination and the distortion of debate issues. We the public end up being collateral damage.

Thank god, a few of the warriors, with their names and mug shots beside their opinion pieces, gallantly identify themselves and defend their positions. But a large number, notably among the anti-Duterte forces, refuse to take off their masks and fight in the open.

Some unidentified antagonists are Silent No MoreProPinoyMadam ClaudiaThinking MillennialsChange ScammingBackroom PoliticsPinoy Ako Blog, and about half a dozen others ranged against the administration.

The Poe committee may want to look into the revelation of a team (that includes bloggers R.J. Nieto [Thinking Pinoy] and Sass Rogando Saso) that several websites sporting various names are actually being hosted by just one person who could be fronting for an opposition group.

Even in the absence of advanced technical tools, it is possible to trace manually the computers generating the content of websites. Computers leave their fingerprints on their output.

Since a sleuth concentrates on only 15 or so suspect sites, all it takes is time and patience to discover which machine(s) is/are generating the sites. Track down the person holding and paying for the account(s) and the entire network is unraveled.

Another lead is the revenue flow of the sites’ advertising. The income, payee and payor are on record. It has been reported, for example, that the site Change Scamming earns an average of $24 daily, or about P1,000, from ads. Pinoy Ako Blog reportedly earns more than $73 daily, or about P3,500. The Bureau of Internal Revenue may want to look into this.

• ‘Madame Claudia’ is vintage anti-Digong

A SAMPLE of a blogger hiding her/his true identity is “Madam Claudia.” She/he once listed the “Top Ten Lies of Duterte” (list cut):
Maglalaho ang krimen at droga sa loob ng 3-6 months  Sinong tanga naman ang maniniwala na matatapos ang crime sa loob ng 3 to 6 months? Tanging ang mga tatanga tangang Brand X lang naman ang maniniwala sa gurang na ito.

Ang bank account ni Trillanes ay pinasara online — Eh bawal kaya yun. Isa pang nakakabobong pautot ni Panginoong Digong ay pinasara raw ni Trillanes ang kanyang bank account sa DBS. Agad binawi ito ng Banko sa Singapore at sinabing hindi ito maaaring isara online.

Imbentong bank account ni Trillanes — Isa pa itong nakakabobong pautot ng Poong Nazeraan na imbentong pekeng bank account. Paano naman kasi ang source nya ay si Erwin Tulfo at si Pokabells.

Ang pangako nyang sasakay ng Jestski, joke joke lang pala — Noong presidential debate pinangako nya sa 16 milyong tanga na sasakay sya ng jetski papuntang West Philippine Sea para iclaim ng National Territory. Pero hindi nya pala kayang ipaglaban ang ating teritoryo.

Nakausap nya raw si Lord sa eroplano pero ang naniwala ay mga buang! — Nakausap nya raw si Lord sa eroplano para huminto na ang mabahong bunganga ni Panginoong Duterte. Ang hindi lang malinaw ay kung sinong Lord yun? Nang dahil hindi nya kayang kontrolin ang kanyang kakamura ay sinabihan nyang buang ang mga naniwala.

Nagkulambo, natanggalan ng swelas ng sapatos, kumain sa carinderia para mauto ang mga tangang panatiko — Ito ang bumentang propaganda ni Lord Digong. Nagkulambo, natanggalan ng swelas ng sapatos, kumain sa carinderia photo ops para magmukhang mahirap pero ang mga nauto lang naman ay ang 16 milyong tanga.

Sino raw ang nag-sponsor sa kanyang campaign? — Naloka ako sa mag among ito, I mean amo ni Tatay Digong na si Imee Marcos. Sino naman ngayon ang paniniwalaan namin sa dalawang itey? Sabi ni Tatay Digong ay si Imang daw ang nag-sponsor sa kanyang campaign pero deny to the bones naman si Imang. Sino ang nagsisinungaling?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 5, 2017)

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