IN THE KNOW: The 2016 ‘Comeleak’
On March 27, 2016, two hacker groups broke into and defaced the Commission on Elections’ website, less than two months before the May polls.
One group called Anonymous Philippines warned in a message on the poll body’s website that it would be closely watching the polls.
“What happens when the electoral process is so mired in questions and controversies? Can the government still guarantee that the sovereignty of the people will be upheld? We request the implementation of the security features in the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines,” Anonymous said.
Another group, Lulzsec Pilipinas, claimed on Facebook that it had gotten the entire Comelec database.
The breach was later called “Comeleak” after the hackers obtained the personal information of over 55 million registered voters, including names, birthdays, home and e-mail addresses and parents’ full names.
Paul Biteng, who was charged with illegal access, data interference and misuse of device for the breaches, admitted hacking the Comelec website with the aim of exposing its weaknesses but denied he stole personal data.
In February 2020, he was acquitted by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32.