The government wants the Supreme Court to keep the provision about the real-time collection of traffic data in the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012. The office of the Solicitor General says this is the “heart” of the controversial law.
Section 12 of the law allows authorities to conduct warrantless real-time collection of traffic data. Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said it is an investigative tool that makes tracing, tracking, and arresting hackers more efficient. To quell fears that the law could be used to violate the privacy of innocent people, Jardeleza said authorities will only be collecting traffic data on those who are suspected of committing cyber crimes.
Read more about the Cybercrime Law on Rappler.
War in Syria
The bodies of 78 young men, all executed with a single gunshot, were found Tuesday in a river in Aleppo City, adding to the grim list of massacres committed during Syria's 22-month conflict. The gruesome discovery came ahead of a briefing by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to the UN Security Council on the uprising, which the United Nations says has left more than 60,000 people dead. Rebel fighters say regime snipers were behind the massacre but security officials accuse rebel forces of the killings. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the official SANA news agency said the jihadist Al-Nusra Front carried out the executions.
Read more about the crisis in Syria on The Huffington Post and BBC.
US President Barack Obama said Tuesday, January 29, that long-sought reforms to a "broken" immigration system were within America's grasp, seeking to lock in rare momentum towards a major cross-party compromise. Speaking at a point in history when Republicans want to thwart Democratic primacy among Hispanic voters, for whom immigration is a key issue Obama said, "I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive reform is within our grasp." Obama’s immigration plan would nudge 11 million illegal immigrants slowly towards citizenship within stronger US borders and let prized foreign students stay on after graduation to boost the US economy.
Read more about the US immigration reform on Rappler and Boston.
Kidnappers of Australian Warren Rodwell turned to social media again to communicate threats to kill him. In a recent Facebook post, Rodwell is seen holding a January 25 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Rodwell is noticeably thinner compared to last time he was seen on Facebook and YouTube on December 26, 2012 where he delivered a message saying, “I am alive.” The threat was made by a group calling itself Al Harakatul Al-Islamiyyah, an apparent reference to the formal name adopted by the terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf. The post told the Australian government, "We will give you a chance to save his life before it's too late." Sources told Rappler, negotiations for his release are ongoing. Filipino intelligence sources also confirmed to Rappler that the post is authentic. One of them said they were warned “about it in advance.”
Read more about the death threat on Rappler.
Weeks after its chairman's, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, visit to North Korea, Google rolled out a detailed Google Maps of the isolated state which includes label for some of its remote and infamous gulags. According to Senior Product Manager for Google Map Maker Jayanth Mysore the North Korea section had been completed with the help of a "community of citizen cartographers" working over a period of several years. Mysore believes the maps are especially important to South Korean citizens who still have family there. With the two countries still technically at war, decent maps of the North are almost impossible to come by in South Korea. Ironically, the people least able to benefit from the Google publication are the North Koreans themselves, who live in one of the most isolated and highly censored societies on the planet. The North has a domestic Intranet, but it is cut off from the rest of the world, allowing its very limited number of users to exchange state-approved information and little more.
Read more about the detailed map of North Korea on Rappler.
The Philippines dropped 7 places in press freedom ranking according to the 2013 World Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders. This year, the country ranks 147 out of 179 countries surveyed -- a drop of 7 places from 2012.
The report did not indicate the specific events or factors that influenced the Philippines' ranking but according to National Union of Journalists of the Philippines the low ranking was to be expected, given the Aquino administration's lack of decisive action against media attacks and its failure to pass the Freedom of Information bill. The RSF reported there was a general decline in press freedom in the Asia-Pacific, with 25 countries placing at the bottom 45 of the index. Only Burma or Myanmar registered a notable improvement after its government moved to free journalists and netizens from prison and outlaw censorship.
Read more about the press freedom ranking on Rappler.
Former US Senator and 2004 democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was confirmed the new US Secretary of State. The US Senate voted 94-3 in favor of Kerry following the approval of his nomination by the Foreign Relations Committee. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called her successor, the “right choice”. Clinton is expected to leave her post on Friday, February 1 amid speculation that she will run for US President in 2016. During a confirmation hearing last week Kerry called for “fresh thinking” as he outlined his foreign policy agenda saying that “American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone.”
Read more about the new US Secretary of State on Rappler.
A new coalition of businesses in the United States have banded together to campaign against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996, a law that defines marriage between a man and a woman. Among the businesses that have signed up to join the coalition are Armani Exchange, eBay, Thomson Reuters, and Marriott International. The forming of the coalition is timed a month before the Respect for Marriage Act is expected to be reintroduced in Congress. If DOMA is repealed, same-sex couples will enjoy up to 1000 benefits that currently only opposite-sex couples receive such as the ability to file taxes jointly and qualify for tax exemptions.
Read more about the new coalition on CNN.
A Filipina currently part of the team working on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is pushing the inclusion of Filipino-coined words like "presidentiable" and "senatoriable". Danica Salazar, PhD, 28, got her job at the OED last year after she was awarded a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in lexicography, working with both the Oxford’s Hertford College and the Oxford University Press which publishes the OED. Her proposal for the fellowship included the search, systematization and possible inclusion in the OED of English words uniquely coined and used in the Philippines. Part of her job is also to look for "extensions of meaning" of some English words which have taken on a different usage in the Philippines, like "salvage," which she says has taken on a different meaning in the country that is the "opposite to its original meaning." Salazar’s main goal is the official recognition of Philippine English and the publication of a Philippine English dictionary by the Oxford University Press. From her perspective, the way Filipinos speak and use English can enrich the language.
Read more about how Danica Salazar got involved with the team on Rappler.
Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its popular Office suite of productivity applications including the ubiquitous Word, Powerpoint and Excel today. Microsoft Office 2013 for PC is now available both as a boxed set and as a digital download via Office.com. Boxed sets in developing markets will contain product codes and not DVDs. What’s interesting about this release is Microsoft’s move to a subscription based model, along with Office 2013 it introduced Office 365 a service that provides the productivity suite to users at a monthly or yearly fee. One of the key features of Office 2013 is its integration with SkyDrive allowing users to save documents on the cloud and giving them the ability to share and edit from any computer. Microsoft has yet to discuss if it is planning mobile versions of its software.
Read more about Microsoft Office 2013 on The Verge and Office 365 on Microsoft.
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