Media outfits push for accountability over cyber attacks

Alternative media outfits demand accountability over the sustained and systematic cyber attacks launched against them for over three months.

On March 29, Altermidya, Bulatlat, Kodao Productions and Pinoy Weekly filed a civil case against two companies found to be the sources of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). Article 32 (3) of the Civil Code states that any one who violates constitutional freedom of the press may be held liable for damages.

Today, Sept. 9, is the pretrial conference on the said case. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) is representing the four media outfits in the case.

In their replies, IP Converge and Suniway have denied direct knowledge to the cyber attacks launched against the websites of Bulatlat, Kodao, Pinoy Weekly and Altermidya.

IP Converge admitted that it leased 64 IP addresses to Suniway, including the IP address identified by Qurium Media Foundation to be the source of cyber attacks. It’s interesting to note that IP Converge, in its reply, has included cross-claims against Suniway. It states, “Suniway has complete control over the leased IP address (or Subject IP Address) which allegedly caused the DDoS attacks on Plaintiffs’ websites. Ergo, Suniway alone should bear the consequences.”

“Suniway should be held liable for all the damages and expenses caused to IP Converge as a result of this case, and for whatever amount may be adjudged against IP Converge by virtue of the complaint,” the IP Converge further stated in its Answer.

Both companies said they neither have control nor access to the IP addresses they lease to clients. They also cite the Data Privacy Act for not acting on the cyber attacks.

Both companies cannot simply feign ignorance. CIVICERT, a computer emergency response team for civil society organisations of which Quirum is a member (the one who did the forensic report), wrote to IP Converge four times to report about the cyber attacks emanating from their infrastructure. IP Converge did not reply to any of these emails. In its reply to the complaint, IP Converge said the recipients may have missed the emails because they receive hundreds of emails in any given day. Suniway, on the other hand, did not squarely answer our allegations, primarily that the IP addresses were traced to their infrastructure.

Both have also filed counter-claims for “besmirching their reputation.” IP Converge demands P1 million from each plaintiff for moral damages, P1 million each for exemplary damages and P1.5 million for attorney’s fees and cost of litigation. Suniway is claiming P2 million for moral damages, P500,000 for exemplary damages and P500,000 for attorney’s fees at cost of litigation. In sum, both companies are claiming a total of P12.5 million. We view this as a form of intimidation given that all the plaintiffs are non-profit media outfits.

We firmly believe that legitimately exercising a right and seeking appropriate redress at the proper forum when that right is violated can never be penalized or begrudged.

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