Online security

Google pledges to help government step up cyber protection efforts


GOOGLE LLC said on Wednesday that it would help the government strengthen cyber protection initiatives in the run-up to the Philippine elections.

During a Senate hearing, Jean-Jacques Sahel, head of information policy for Asia-Pacific at Google, said the company had changed its policies to manage cybersecurity risks.

“We have a number of teams and people at Google who are starting to work together to prepare for this,” he told Senators. “We are also working to organize ourselves to interact with the various stakeholders in the Philippines and to organize training in preparation for the elections.”

The Senate is holding hearings as part of a plan to change the country’s cybercrime law to tackle the proliferation of illegal online activity.

Mr. Sahel said Google is working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Privacy Commission, the Elections Commission and other non-government groups on cybersecurity.

Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan, who filed the resolution with Senator Franklin M. Drilon, said Google and the government should work together to address threats to the security of the country’s democracy.

There have been cases where Google’s platforms have been used to “undermine and influence election results, and that is why partnership and stakeholder intervention are essential,” he said.

To fight disinformation, Google is working with literacy experts and supporting fact-checking initiatives, Sahel said. The company also helps journalists and researchers by tailoring programs and providing funding and free tools such as the Google Trends API.

Algorithms and automation are also used to help enforce policies and sift through content to ensure that Google is universally useful, accessible and trustworthy, he added.

Mr Pangilinan urged Google to reconsider its ban on election ads in the Philippines.

“We hope you might consider revising the ban because indeed the money that should have been spent on political advertising will now go to anonymous accounts and therefore even more difficult to monitor and account for in terms of funds. campaign aimed at these advertising platforms. ,” he said.

“We respect everyone’s position on the policy, but we would also like to note that the Election Commission has recognized that this policy will be, and I quote, ‘a great help for everyone,” “Sahel said.

He said Google will focus its efforts and resources on election-related initiatives that will help people access information through product features, media literacy programs and promoting participation in the election process. vote.

Google’s election ad ban will cover ads purchased through Google Ads, Display, and Video 360 and shopping platforms to be placed on Google, YouTube and partner properties from February 8 to May 7 of next year.

“This includes advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office,” Sahel said.

The move comes as social media platforms come under pressure on their handling of political advertising during last year’s US presidential election.

Social media has become a political battleground in the Philippines. Filipinos top the global rankings for time spent on Facebook and other social media.

Social media platforms such as Facebook have helped strengthen President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s base of support. Political analysts see them as having helped him win the 2016 election. – Alyssa Nicole O. Tan