Marcos to push passage of bills boosting cybersecurity

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos to push passage of bills boosting cybersecurity
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on November 14, 2023.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos will include in the list of priority measures three bills seeking to boost cybersecurity efforts in the Philippines, which has seen thousands of cyber attacks in the last three years, including those that targeted state agencies.

During a meeting with Marcos last Tuesday, the digital infrastructure group of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) recommended that the proposed Cybersecurity Act, Anti-Mule Act and Online Site Blocking Act be certified as priority legislation.

Marcos expressed support for the recommendation, saying he would look into the bills and see what could be done to move them forward in Congress.

“It looks like there is a great need for structural requirements in legislation. Let me work on the Cybersecurity Act, Anti-Mule and the Online Site Blocking Act. We will talk with the leadership of the legislature and see how we can move along quickly,” a Palace statement quoted the President as saying.

The proposed Cybersecurity Act or Senate Bill No. 1365 seeks to strengthen the Philippines’ cybersecurity resilience, safeguard critical information infrastructure and impose penalties on entities that underperform in terms of observing the standards and practices on protecting digital assets.

The proposed Anti-Mule Act or SB 2039, meanwhile, aims to bar money mules and fraudulent acts involving bank accounts, e-wallets and other financial accounts. The measure also seeks to criminalize the registering or opening of an account using a fake identity, the selling or transferring of an account to unauthorized persons, purchasing or using an account without being the owner and recruiting people to open accounts to commit fraud.

The online site blocking bill institutionalizes the blocking of websites displaying pirated content to protect the creative industry and consumers. It also calls for higher penalties and empowers the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines against the crime.

“Because right now, contents are being pilfered over the internet... Unfortunately, there are laws that we really need to give a lot of teeth to our executive branch to implement properly,” a Palace statement quoted the PSAC as saying.

PSAC digital infra sector lead Henry Aguda said the recommendations presented to Marcos seek to bolster the Philippines’ cyber defenses.

“In our meeting with the President, we underscored the critical need for proactive measures to safeguard our nation’s critical information infrastructure. The recommendations we presented to President Marcos aim to fortify our defenses against evolving cyber threats, ensuring the resilience and security of our digital landscape,” Aguda said.

The advisory group also pushed for an executive order mandating minimum information security standards for critical information infrastructure that are aligned with the national cybersecurity plan. — Catherine Talavera

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