Congress probe into surge of dummy Facebook accounts sought

Congress probe into surge of dummy Facebook accounts sought
Stock photo shows the logos of mobile social networking applications including Facebook.
Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Rufino Biazon (Muntinlupa) called on the House of Representatives to conduct a legislative inquiry into the proliferation of duplicate accounts on Facebook.

Biazon wrote on Twitter that he filed Resolution No. 968 on Tuesday, calling the House to “direct the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, on the alleged recent breach on the social media platform ‘Facebook’ that may have compromised the safety and private data of its users.”

“[D]espite the security measures in place as claimed by Facebook developers, there seems to have been a very recent breach in its system wherein there was an apparent widespread cloning of users’ accounts,” Biazon said in the resolution.

The lawmaker added that the apparent breach leaves Facebook users, especially the youth, open to exploitation and threat of cybercrime such as online bullying, harassment, identity theft and violation of privacy.

Biazon noted that with a looming “new normal” due to the pandemic, reliance on social media platforms increased for transacting business. “It is therefore incumbent upon the government to ensure the safety of its users through the protection of their private data,” he added.

He said that due to the incident, a creation of an inter-agency task force may be in order “so that a thorough investigation on the matter may be conducted and remedial measures be put into place to prevent such similar situations from occurring in the future.”

The task force would be composed of members from the Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the National Privacy Commission.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan also filed a similar resolution over the proliferation of fake Facebook accounts on Tuesday.

In a statement, Pangilinan said he “urged the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry to find out whether there is a need to amend Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and other pertinent laws to make them more responsive to the situation.”

Government agencies probe

On Sunday morning, several activists and students reported finding their “cloned” Facebook accounts. The National Privacy Commission said it is monitoring the said reports.

The surge of these dummy accounts came amid growing dissent on the Anti-Terrorism Bill both on social media and on the ground—days after a protest was held at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

The anti-cybercrime offices of the Department of Justice, NBI and PNP are looking into the incident.

DOJ said that as of Sunday evening, they received reports from 112 Facebook users on supposed dummy accounts made using their names. — Kristine Joy Patag






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