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Beefing up the country’s cybersecurity programs

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President Marcos has expressed his support for the recommendation of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Digital Infrastructure Group to make three pending bills in the Senate as “priority,” in order to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity programs.

The three pending bills are the Cybersecurity Act (Senate Bill No. 1365), Anti-Mule Act (Senate Bill No. 2039) and the Online Site Blocking Act (Senate Bill Nos. 2150 and 2385).These bills seek to make more active and more resilient government agencies when it comes to dealing with online threats. The bills support the Philippine Digital Transformation Framework.

SB No. 1365, or the Cybersecurity Act, proposes the restructuring of the National Cybersecurity Inter-Agency Committee into the National Cybersecurity Council (NCC).  It seeks to give teeth to existing cybersecurity measures by, for one, identifying and safeguarding what are called critical information infrastructures (CIIs) as well as collaborating with the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) in determining and undermining attempts at cyberterrorism.

It seeks to protect not just government technology infrastructure but also private institutions by making it a requirement for these to build cybersecurity systems that protect from data breach and other attacks that can endanger public or consumer information.

The passage of SB No. 1365, or the Cybersecurity Act, will promote and increase the country’s cybersecurity resilience and improve its posture.

The Anti-Mule Act (SB No. 2039) proposes to protect financial transactions conducted through digital banking and finance or any e-commerce platform (including digital wallets). It prohibits persons from acting as “money mules,” i.e. those who open financial accounts on behalf of another using fictitious identities or credentials. This has become particularly necessary because of the increased number of Filipinos who now use digital wallets because this has made any type of financial transactions easy.

The law will criminalize registering or opening an account using fake identity, selling or transferring an account to unauthorized persons, purchasing or using an account without being the owner, as well as recruitment of people to open accounts for fraudulent purposes.

The third bill, which currently has two versions in the Senate (SB Nos. 2150 and 2385), seeks to strengthen intellectual property laws by extending the function of the Intellectual Property Office and amending the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines to allow the blocking of websites that promote or distribute pirated content. This will protect the creative industry.

The absence of such a law makes it possible for websites to host illegally obtained media—films, music, TV shows—to be accessed by Filipinos. Other countries have cracked down on such sites, penalizing both those who host them as well as those who patronize them.

The President sees these bills as crucial in safeguarding the country’s critical information infrastructure and has promised to endorse them to the leadership of both houses of Congress. If the Philippines is to become a middle-income economy by 2025 or 2026, it is necessary for these measures to be enacted to protect private individuals as well as public institutions from the many threats to cybersecurity.

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Credit belongs to: www.mb.com.ph

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