Saturday, August 11, 2007
July 31 and August 1, 2007 were important days in the annals of the burgeoning field of electronic discovery of e-data in the Philippines. The organizer of the event, Citizens Truth Verifier Academy Inc. (CTVAI), is a training academy for private detectives, and is affiliated with the Truth Verifier System Inc. (TVSI), a multi-awarded detective agency with branches in the Philippines and the United States. TVSI has over forty years of experience and has been recognized by private and government agencies in the Philippines for its exemplary services, through its many awards and citations.
CTVAI held a seminar devoted exclusively to the many aspects of computer crimes on July 31. This is the first of its kind with the focus on the concerns of businesses. Even the venue had an auspicious name: New Horizon Hotel. The result: a jampacked seminar where people (including foreigners) from so many different professions and companies were exposed to various facets of cybercrimes to help them protect themselves and their businesses.
The TVSI booth located in the foyer teemed with curious and genuinely interested participants who marveled at the latest electronic gadgets that TVSI uses to conduct its electronic surveillance and other cyber sleuthing activities.
Starting the seminar was the lecture on the "Nature, Elements and Extent of Computer Crimes" by Ms. Helen Macasaet, the CEO of Pentathlon Systems Resources, Inc. Culling examples from movies, literature, and her actual experiences, she ably explicated the complex nature of computer crimes by discussing their types and she alluded to their extent by pointing out to literature that documents cases and statistics of computer crimes. Probably the most interesting part of her lecture was her discussion of the elements of computer crimes, from a technological perspective. Being a software developer, she infused her discussion with insights as to the practical challenges of recognizing and proving the elements of these crimes.
The most visually arresting presentation, and certainly a very informative lecture was on "Electronic Monitoring" by Mr. Antonio Angeles, the Managing Director of ACA Technologies and Security Solutions. He presented the gamut of monitoring activities and technologies (e.g., KeyKatcher, KeyRaptors, pen and trap trace devices, Nokia spy phones, infinity transmitters, etc.) which are available and used in the Philippines. They show that no information, particularly e-data, is truly and absolutely immune from detection and interception. With over decades of experience and training, Mr. Angeles also offered valuable countermeasures to a grateful audience [majority of whom are married or attached males].
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the counterpart of the US FBI, has an established "CyberLab" in its headquarters in Taft, Manila. Its very able and amiable "top" agent, Mr. Palmer Mallari, presented a lecture on the "Investigation of Cybercrimes". Mr. Mallari discussed the development of the concept and prosecution of cybercrimes in the Philippines, which evolved from the "I LOVE YOU" virus that was made by a creative but misguided student. He presented the challenges and limitations faced by NBI as an agency in its efforts to address the increasing incidence of computer abuses and misuses in the country.
Rounding out the seminar was the lecture on "The Legal Significance of E-Data in Computer Crimes" given by private practitioner, Attorney Noel Ramiscal. Since 1997, Atty. Ramiscal has been writing on the legal issues that implicate e-data in various contexts. For the seminar, he discussed at length the potential sources of e-data and their legal consequences, including evidentiary considerations. He delved on the legal issues that can arise from a Supreme Court memorandum on the search and seizure of computer data in intellectual property rights proceedings. He also pointed out several gaps in the Revised Penal Code, the Rules on Electronic Evidence, the Rules on Criminal Procedure, The Anti-Wire Tapping Law, The Human Security Act of 2007 and several other laws, which can be used by computer criminals to evade or escape prosecution.
CTVAI's August 1 afternoon seminar was on "The Truth About Lying." Attorney Benjamin Delos Santos' presentation on "Interview/Interrogation Techniques" and Ms. Josefina Castillo's "How to Tell if Someone is Lying" are valuable lectures that probe into the mind and body language of people who are lying to conceal a crime or protect a criminal. The most significant lecture as far as electronic evidence is concerned is that of Captain Dumlao. The indefatigable founder of TVSI expounded on the benefits of taking a polygraph test (which can be the conventional type or the digital test) which includes an average confirmed validity or accuracy of 96%. TVSI is the pioneer in digital polygraph test in the Philippines. In terms of its acceptability to the court, Captain Dumlao cited several US cases that point to it as an "accurate form of circumstantial evidence."
These two seminars offered their participants an unparalleled wholistic view of the current issues, challenges, and opportunities for reform in the areas of law, law enforcement and prosecution of computer crimes and their perpetrators, that is truly needed and most welcome in the Philippines, particularly by the business sector.