MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The official website of Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III was hacked by a group claiming to be Anonymous Philippines past midnight on Tuesday, January 8.
Upon loading titosotto.com users are greeted with a pop-up message that says, "Defaced by #pR.is0n3r." When readers click through, they are greeted by an animated Anonymous Philippines logo, with a message criticizing RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
" It's been a long time, Tito Sen! Deny us our freedom of speech and of expression through R.A. 10175
and we will deny you your cyberspace. You cannot shut us up, you cannot shut us down.
And you shall not see us rest until R.A. 10175 is revised.
We are all waiting, we are all ready.
We are Anonymous, we are legion.
We do not forgive and we do not forget.
Protect our Right to Freedom of Expression!"
In the background the song "Freedom" by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine plays.
In a text message on Tuesday morning, Sotto told Rappler he was not even aware his website was hacked.
"That's fine. The caretakers will take care of it, I'm sure. I don't bother with it anyway."
As of late Tuesday morning, the website was again operational. Later, Sotto's official Facebook page posted this message:
The hacking comes a week before the Supreme Court is set to hold oral arguments on the cybercrime law on January 15.
In October 2012, the high court issued a 120-day temporary restraining order on the implementation of the law. President Benigno Aquino III signed the cybercrime bill into law on September 12, 2012 and it took effect on October 3, 2012.
Human rights groups, Internet users, bloggers, academics and journalists filed various petitions against the law, saying it gave the government too much power over netizens and violated freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Sotto was accused of inserting the provision on online libel, a charge he later denied. He was among 13 senators who voted in favor the law.
Amid protests against the law last year, a group also claiming to be Anonymous Philippines hacked various government websites including those of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
The Palace then condemned the hacking, saying critics should engage in debate instead of defacing websites. - Rappler.com