June 10, 2013
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) today joined the mounting criticism of the United States global internet surveillance through the National Security Agency program called PRISM. The program which has been in existence since 2007 reportedly allows the NSA access to data from big service providers such Google, Facebook and Yahoo!. Another data mining tool recently revealed called Boundless Informant meanwhile tracks and details the volume of data collected by the US in countries that are apparently the focus of surveillance. The information about PRISM was leaked to media outlets last week.
“The US has made itself the global police even in cyberspace. The right to privacy is a thing of the past as far as the US military is concerned. In its drive to advance its imperialist agenda, the US seeks full control not just of sea, air , land and space but also the internet. The revelations regarding this previously secret program sends a chilling effect on all internet users and is a cause of great alarm worldwide. Countries should begin examining the true extent of US internet surveillance,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
The group also expressed solidarity with whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee who has come forward as the source of the leaked information on PRISM.
“What Snowden did was an act of courage. The world should be thankful for what he did. He shed light on what many have suspected as the broad powers of the US that violate a
person’s right to privacy in the name of ‘national security’,” Reyes said.
Snowden is now in Hong Kong as the US has launched an investigation into the source of the leak. Meanwhile, President Barrack Obama has defended the PRISM program, saying it was necessary for US security. The NSA has also claimed that the program had congressional and judicial oversight. Several members of the US House of Representatives however have denied knowing about PRISM.
“The US should keep its dirty hands off Snowden. He must not be arrested and detained in the same way as Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. Snowden’s rights must be respected. His safety should be the concern of all advocates of freedom of expression,” Reyes added.
The umbrella group also called on the public to reflect on the Philippine’s own Cybercrime Prevention Act which critics have decried as a tool for warrantless surveillance on computer system users. The measure was signed into law by Philippine president Benigno Aquino III last year and immediately raised protests from various sectors.
“The Philippine Supreme Court should resolve the pending petitions regarding the cybercrime law. This measure, aside from penalizing online libel, allows for the real-time collection of traffic data which can lead to violations of the right to privacy. There is great danger in the way government is trying to control the space known as the internet. The recent events in the US should serve as a warning to our own government. It is time the SC resolve the issue of the constitutionality of the cybercrime law,” Reyes said. ###