By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Alternative media groups that were subjected to relentless cyberattacks last year were vindicated with a “small victory” after two tech companies, whose infrastructure were used to carry out the incursions, agree to support press freedom and put in place an effective mechanism to prevent a similar situation.
In a joint statement, IT companies IP Converge Data Services and Suniway Group of Companies expressed their “utmost respect and full support of press freedom as a constitutional guarantee and a tenet of a democratic society.”
Last year, alternative media outfits Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, Kodao Productions, and their nationwide umbrella group AlterMidya – People’s Media Network were subjected to repeated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Read: What you need to know about the ongoing cyber-attacks vs. alternative news Bulatlat
Read: Alternative media groups identify cyberattackers
Through the assistance of Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation, the two tech companies were identified as the source of the DDoS. A civil complaint was consequently filed before the Quezon City court on March 29, 2019, marking the 25th year since the first internet connection in the Philippines.
Read: Attributing the attacks against media and human rights websites in the Philippines
The tech companies said they had “no prior knowledge of, much less consented to” the use of their respective infrastructure “for the perpetration of these cyberattacks, defendants commit to support a free press.”
Bulatlat, one of the plaintiffs in the civil action, welcomed the commitment of both tech companies as a small victory in the fight for press freedom.
“We welcome IP Converge and Suniway’s commitment to uphold press freedom. We will remain vigilant in countering cyberattacks and other forms of violations to our right to publish news and analyses relevant to the Filipino people,” said Bulatlat managing editor Ronalyn Olea.
In consideration of their public declaration, the charges were withdrawn before the court. Alternative media groups, in the joint statement, said they are “satisfied that their rights to press freedom and free expression have been recognized and upheld even as they vow to remain vigilant against any future or similar attacks.”
Olea, for her part, thanked their lawyers, allies in the digital rights community, fellow journalists, and press freedom advocates who supported their fight for press freedom.