Manila court acquits hacker over defaced Comelec website in 2016
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) has acquitted the hacker who supposedly defaced the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website in 2016.
In a decision dated February 17, Manila City RTC Branch 32 Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina cleared Paul Biteng of violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, specifically for illegal access, data interference, and illegal use of devices, for failure to prove that it was him who actually vandalized the poll body’s website.
“The bulk of the evidence only sought to prove that accused posted 1. hacking tutorials prior to the commission of the subject offenses; 2. a screenshot of the defaced Comelec website; and 3. comments regarding the Comelec hacking incident,” the court said.
While Biteng admitted he was a hacker, the Manila court said there is nothing that has “convincingly shown that accused defaced the Comelec website.”
In its complaint, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Biteng admitted his participation in the hacking but only to test the security features of the automated elections. But Biteng denied leaking voters information.
“In the mind of this Court, the commission of these acts, even if coupled with a finding that accused is the author thereof, cannot convincingly prove the latter’s guilt with the requisite quantum of evidence required,” the decision reads.
The court also noted that it is also possible that someone could have accessed Biteng’s social media accounts and posted the tutorial videos.
Biteng was charged after NBI found traces of hacking activities on his computer.
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