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DITO Telecom, other China-backed projects seen to compromise cybersecurity

Several groups expressed concern the entry of China-backed companies led by DITO Telecommunity would compromise the Philippines’ cybersecurity.

Former Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares said he was against the idea of allowing DITO Telecommunity, much less China, to take control of the country’s telecommunications sector, even after Congress granted it a license to operate last year, for fear of cyber-attacks.

“China has been known to use hacking and so on…They said they will not use our telecommunications technology for intelligence purposes. The fact China said, ‘We will not use’ means that they can, except that they are promising that they will not use it. For me that’s dangerous already because it depends on them. Our national security should not depend on a third party,” Colmenares said in a recent interview.

Under the laws of China―the National Intelligence Act and the National Security Act―there is a provision which requires all Chinese corporations to cooperate with their intelligence department, if required by them. 

China may use this as an excuse to hack into the country’s system and the easier way to do this is by having access to the telecommunications sector, according to experts.

Colmenares said the “worst thing you could offer to China is the technical knowledge of the inside information” as it only makes the Philippines “vulnerable to Chinese attacks.”

“Do not allow, at least the very least, if you are going to sell the third telco to somebody, at the very least, not to China, not to DITO,” Colmenares said.

“There are certain industries that you do not sell to ‘private corporations’ much more foreign private corporations and in this case, China is not just a foreign country, but it is a country that has an antagonistic position for us because we defeated them in the tribunal case. And if there is any sharpest attack on China, it has been the tribunal case,” Colmenares said.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines earlier admitted that it had faced various cyber-attacks in the past months. This has validated fears that it is not impossible for China to hack the country’s system, Colmenares said.

Colmenares also said three out of 10 of NGCP directors are from China and headed by a Chinese national. “This could even heighten the suspicion that they could be working with another government’s interest,” he said.

Cyber Security Philippines-CERT chief executive Milo Pacamara warned that the government should act on it before China could completely hack into the country’s computer system.

Topics: DITO Telecommunity , cybersecurity , Rep. Neri Colmenares , China
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