Gov’t spying & Edward Snowden – a preview of the Anti-Cybercrime law in the Philippines

While we’re still waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision over the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, those who are still trying to fully understand the bad effects of this law gain help by reading up on the Edward Snowden controversy in which he has revealed how the US government is using laws similar to our own Anti-Cybercrime law to conduct cyber-espionage on its own citizens.

Just how are these laws used by governments in conducting their surveillance operations? Here’s a quick rundown of it all by Declan McCullagh on CNET.com:

By wielding a potent legal threat, the U.S. government is often able to force Internet companies to aid its surveillance demands. The threat? Comply or we’ll implant our own eavesdropping devices on your network.

Under federal law, the National Security Agency can serve real-time “electronic surveillance” orders on Internet companies for investigations related to terrorism or national security.

These orders, authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are used to feed data into the NSA’s PRISM software program that was revealed last month by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. PRISM documents indicate that the NSA can receive “real-time notifications” of user log-ins.

Some Internet companies have reluctantly agreed to work with the government to conduct legally authorized surveillance on the theory that negotiations are less objectionable than the alternative — federal agents showing up unannounced with a court order to install their own surveillance device on a sensitive internal network. Those devices, the companies fear, could disrupt operations, introduce security vulnerabilities, or intercept more than is legally permitted.

“Nobody wants it on-premises,” said a representative of a large Internet company who has negotiated surveillance requests with government officials. “Nobody wants a box in their network…[Companies often] find ways to give tools to minimize disclosures, to protect users, to keep the government off the premises, and to come to some reasonable compromise on the capabilities.”

Recalling the provisions of the Anti-Cybercrime law here in the Philippines, there would be not much difference between how the US government is doing it and how our own Philippine government would go about doing it once the Anti-cybercrime law is upheld by the Supreme Court.

Your ISPs and telcos would soon become tools of the state in conducting their own intelligence gathering operations. Now Google and Facebook have spoken out against such accusations that they have become conspirators with the government in spying on the American people as they, not just the government, would suffer from public outrage. Will our local ISPs and telcos be brave enough or be complicit pawns of the state in the biggest edition of ‘Big Brother’ in history?

You still think government spying as portrayed in Hollywood films like Enemy of the State, Eagle Eye, the Jason Bourne films are still fiction? As the Edward Snowden controversy continues to unfold, you really have to think twice before going online or even opening your smartphone.

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