The Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) issued a statement discouraging hacking groups from defacing government websites as protest of the new Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

DOST-ICTO Executive Director, Louis Casambre said that “We understand the concerns of the public and our netizens on several controversial provisions of RA 10175, however there are proper avenues for expressing their indignation rather than committing cybercrime to protest a bill that aims to prevent cybercrime.”

“The fact that several government websites were still hacked after the spate of defacements that happened a few months ago linked to the Panatag Shoal issue, underscore the existing vulnerabilities in some government websites that need to be addressed in a national cybersecurity plan. In the meantime, we would like to request our government systems administrators to review their own policies and utilize industry best practices when it comes to cybersecurity.” Usec. Casambre said.

Under the RA 10175, the DOST-ICTO is the designated Chair of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center the main body in charge of inter-agency coordination, monitoring, policy formulation and enforcement of the Cybercrime Prevention Act as well as the development of a national cybersecurity plan . Along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the DOST-ICTO is also tasked with the formulation of the bill’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

Usec. Casambre mentioned that they hope to address at least some of the controversial measures in the development of the IRR, and plan to hold multi-sectoral consultations with various stakeholders to ensure that a balance is struck between protecting individual rights, freedom of expression, and national security in the rules.

“Without a doubt the country needs a cybercrime bill; prior to this we’ve had limited legal tools to address cybercrimes such as identity theft, computer fraud, and hacking. What we also need is a balanced legal regime which addresses both the potentials and perils of the Internet, and the rights of all stakeholders… for example we also passed the Data Privacy Act to protect citizen’s personal data, just prior to the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

“In addressing cybersecurity challenges, our legislators have finally passed a law after a difficult process spanning several Congresses; for us in the executive, we now need to ensure that the IRR will help balance perceived shortcomings while having an implementation framework that is both legally grounded and technically sound. In achieving this balance, we also do respect the rights of netizens and other stakeholders to seek clarifications with the courts on some of the bill’s more controversial provisions. ” Usec. Casambre added.

About DOST-ICTO – The Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology is the Philippine Government’s lead agency on ICT related matters. Its primary thrusts are in the ICT Industry Development, eGovernment, ICT policy development, Internet for all and Cybersecurity.