July 26, 2017, 10:30 am
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IT and the Comelec

CHAIRMAN Andres Bautista of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been urged to account or assume responsibility for the hacking of his agency’s website in 2016.

The adminition came from the National Privacy Commission (NPC) which studied the hacking done by unscrupulous IT ruffians on the national voters’ register in March 2016.

Personal information from this most important list, the Comelec voter data base, may be used by the hackers for their own financial and other interests. If this happened, as most likely it will, the individual voters affected will suffer the consequences of official neglect on the part of the Comelec.

This possibility of personal damage to ordinary voters who became victims of hacking should be reason enough for Chairman Bautista to take this matter seriously.

Bautista is expected not just to dismiss the NPC findings as inaccurate, even pointing out that the privacy commission may even be remiss in evaluating the breach. The Comelec chairman has been reported as questioning the NPC for “misrepresenting the facts, legal principles, and material contexts.”

The head of the Comelec even pointed out that the poll body is composed mostly of lawyers, and though they may excel in the very specialized legal branch called election law, and are relatively capable managers when it comes to implementing it in the field, the en banc lacks expertise in matters pertaining to Information Technology.

Former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, in his time, realized this deficiency so it was he who initiated the creation of an IT department in the Comelec precisely to ensure a seamless transfer from the old medium to the new in the nation’s electoral exercises.

Several chairmen have passed after Abalos, and Bautista is still invoking the present en banc’s lack of IT understanding. How sad, if true, for that says a lot about the pace of systemic progress in the poll body.

The cavalier attitude of the present Comelec chairman, we hope, is not shared by other commissioners, so that they may be able to tackle last year’s problem of computer hacking, and similar or even more serious problems in the future, with discernment as responsible adults.

The problem of hacking is not a local one, for progressive societies and modern institutions such as the United States, Russia, China, North Korea and Hollywood have been victimized by hackers.

Because this is no laughing matter, the Comelec should confront it head-on, not plain and nonchalant dismissal as Bautista is wont to do.
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