Surviving the Cybercrime Law

The Philippines is now under Republic Act No. 10175, more commonly known as the Cybercrime Act of 2012. It’s an unusual law that was enacted in lieu of various online incidents that may have had some politicians scrambling for solutions. Since it seems that the law will become a big part of life in Manila, here are a few suggestions on how to survive the new online badlands.

NOTE: These are suggestions, not hard rules. Investigate if they are right for you before swearing by them. The Internet crowd is a thinking crowd, and it’s best to keep it that way.

Know your rights

The Internet, above all else, is a tool for gathering information. Therefore, you must do your research and get educated on what this law does and how it breaches the Constitution. If you have no idea about the Constitution, you may find it all over the Internet, so start reading.

Don’t fall for various things like posting the Facebook Privacy Notice on your wall, which has somewhat gone viral. Such is a hoax and only makes people look dumb and uneducated. We must let the authorities know that we’re not stupid, so use the Internet and learn about your rights. Google is the best tool we all have right now, so start using it properly.

Communicate in code

Don’t make it too obvious that you’re speaking in tongues just to evade authorities. But since invading privacy and freedom of speech is unconstitutional, then the least that we can do is to keep them guessing. Even though idealistically, they can never put people in jail for this, the reality is that the precinct is not a happy place to be. The revolution must be fought in places where the people have mobility on their side. Fighting behind enemy lines is not for everyone, so leave it to those who know what they’re doing.

Use proxies and bypasses if necessary

Proxy addresses are used for masking one’s presence on the Internet. Don’t use the same proxy all the time, you have to change it from time to time so whoever may be monitoring your online activities doesn’t catch on. There is no need to use it if you’re only going to do ordinary online tasks, but you may want to take precautions if you need to download stuff from sources deemed “illegal”, like torrents. While such activities are not condoned, people still do them, so you might as well take precautions.

There are even VPNs and other bypasses that will enable you to maintain your anonymity online. If you have money to spare, then you may avail of these services for around $5 or so a month. Tor browsers are not recommended as it gives access to the Deep Web, which is basically the more unsavory portion of the Internet that has stuff like child pornography and other things that can legitimately land you in jail.

If you don’t really need proxies and bypasses, then stay away from them. Give way to people who do.

Leave the hacking to the experts

It’s good to join the fight against the powers that be, but certain things like DDoS and defacing websites should be left to those who have dedicated their lives to it. There are various scripts and software that can be downloaded to accomplish this task, like Low Orbit Ion Cannon for DDoS-ing websites, but this is mostly irresponsible behavior. Don’t be a script kiddie as you may not know the plans laid by the cyber-guerrillas who are fighting for us.

Don’t be an asshole

Perhaps that’s what got the Filipinos in this situation in the first place. Not having finesse in their partaking of freedom of speech is certainly not uncommon, but it’s what separates the educated online citizen from the ugly trolls. If you have to say something, be clear and concise about it. Also, you don’t have to be a troll about it, so don’t waste time picking fights with other people online. Right now, the enemy is the Cybercrime Law, so the people must concentrate their efforts in bringing it down.

Let regret be your gasoline

Are there things that you wish you did back when this law was still in the ether? Were there channels of information interchange that you didn’t know of that you wish you could have used in the past to make things easier and make you more informed? The Internet is all about information, and many individuals have made the most of it by learning various skills through documents, videos, and other references that are abundant online.

If you were one of those people who just used the Internet only to kill time, but are now regretting it, then at least thank the heavens that even with this law being implemented, the Internet still exists in the Philippines.

It’s not the end of the world. We still have the Internet.

Let’s make the most of it, especially since it’s being threatened by people who may not necessarily understand it to the fullest extent. The 18-35 demographic who use the Internet the most are being screwed around by mostly the 45-80 demographic who happen to be in power. While we wait to see what happens later on, let’s make the most of what we still have online access.

There is no way that the government can totally erase the Internet, so it seems like they’re taking a page from the People’s Republic of China and Saudi Arabia to keep dissent to a minimum. We have witnessed the rise of Wikileaks, how online interaction has resulted in the toppling of dictators like in Egypt, and how some politicians’ indiscretions can be exposed by educated folk with online access. This shows that with direction and the proper information, the masses are strong.

The Internet has not only given power back to the people, but reinforced it tenfold. Therefore, let us use this great tool to better ourselves and show this country and the world that we are not voiceless, no matter how hard they try to stop us.