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E-billboard firm blames hackers for Makati road porn

City gov’t gives outdoor tech company 3 days to explain

The “traffic stopper” at the corner of Sen. Gil Puyat and Makati Avenues, as recorded by a motorist Tuesday afternoon. —Screengrab from Facebook/Mulong Sermonia

The company operating the electronic billboard in Makati City that briefly flashed a pornographic video on Tuesday afternoon blamed the incident on a “malicious attack” on its system, as it faced an investigation and possible penalties from the local government.

The Mandaluyong-based company Globaltronics Inc. said it had shut down the billboard’s operation in compliance with an order from Makati Mayor Abby Binay, who gave the firm three days to explain why no legal or administrative action should be taken against it.

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“The company is fully cooperating with the city government in seeking justice for this malicious attack, not only to Globaltronics but possibly to all similar digital media platforms,” Globetronics said in a statement signed by its chief operating officer, Joseph Evangelista.

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The company said it had filed a report in the Makati police and was planning to submit an additional report to the Philippine National Police’s Cybercrime Division “to seek their help in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

“Our company, being the leader in digital outdoor technology, would like to continually reassure all its advertisers and shareholders amid this momentary issue,” it added. “The company concurrently sees this case opportunity to commit itself and be at the forefront of the drive against cybercrime.”

The video, which showed a couple having sex, appeared for about half a minute on the electronic billboard at the Executive Building Center at the corner of Makati and Sen. Gil Puyat Avenues, one of the busiest sections of the city’s central business district.

A motorist, Mulong Sermonia, was able to record the clip around 2 p.m. Tuesday and later posted it on Facebook.

Billboard shut down

Binay said the billboard would remain closed pending the results of an investigation into the incident and the liabilities of Globaltronics.

In a show cause notice issued to Globaltronics and signed by Maribert Pagente, head of the city’s business permits and licensing office, the local government “condemn(ed) in the strongest terms possible this immoral, disgraceful and irresponsible advertising.”

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“This will not be tolerated at all and has no place in this city,” it added.

Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code punishes “obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows” with a fine of up to P12,000 or a maximum of 12 years in prison, or both.

‘Public viewing’ mode

Reached by the Inquirer on Wednesday, Sermonia, the motorist who took a shot of the now viral video, said he was more inclined to believe that the incident was a lapse committed by the billboard operator, not the handiwork of a cyberhacker.

Sermonia, who said he also worked in the information technology (IT) industry, said he recognized the kind of software used on the billboard. He suspected that the person operating the computer that controlled the billboard didn’t realize that it was on “public viewing” mode while the pornographic clip was playing.

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TAGS: Abby Binay, e-billboard porn, Globaltronics Inc., Joseph Evangelista, Makati road porn
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