Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Congress schedules hearings on cybercrime bills next week

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net

THE PHILIPPINE Congress is scheduled to take up several cybercrime bills in a public hearing bills next week, INQ7.net learned on Thursday.

The congressional committee on information and communications technology said that there are at least four pending measures related to cybercrime to be discussed on May 25.

Congressman Simeon Kintanar, chairman of the ICT committee, is the co-author of a pending cybercrime bill, House Bill 3777 titled
"Cybercrime Act of 2005." Other lawmakers who have filed similar bills are Amado Espino Jr., Nanette Castelo Daza, Eric D. Singson, and Harlin Cast. Abayon.

In 2003, the science and technology committee of the House of Representatives had approved "in principle" the consolidated version of a pending measure on cybercrime.

That consolidated version of separate bills scaled down the functions of a proposed ‘Presidential Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Council’ (PCICC).

Kintanar's cybercrime bill version has renamed the PCICC “Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Council,” with its own secretariat and executive director to be appointed by the President.

Such a council will be funded initially by Office of the President but will next require Congress to appropriate funds for the council.

Bills filed in Congress since the early 1990s have proposed various anti-cybercrime measures. Kintanar’s cybercrime bill now includes certain provisions of a controversial international treaty on cybercrime signed in Budapest last year.

Twenty-six members of the Council of Europe, including Japan, the US, Canada and South Africa signed the treaty, agreeing to put an end to activities such as online child pornography, fraud, and hacking. The treaty also sets guidelines on how countries would police the Internet.

Forty-three member states of the Council of Europe -- including the US, Japan and South Africa, drafted the Budapest cybercrime treaty and opened it to any country that wished to sign it. Civil rights groups and Internet service providers opposed the treaty, however, saying it imposed burdens on providers and failed to include enough public input.

Two years ago, the 15-member European Union also proposed its own separate treaty on cybercrime.

Meanwhile the Philippine cybercrime bill intends to complement the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (specifically section 33a and b), after proponents noted that the latter fails to address online crimes cited in the international cybercrime treaty.

According to the bill’s proponents, among the crimes not included in the E-commerce law concern issues of privacy, online child pornography, and fraud. The bill defines cybercrime as using computers or the Internet to propagate a crime.

US firm expands ‘hosted’ call center business in RP

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net

WHY work in a call center when you can do it from home or on the beach? Sounds like a tourism cliché but this is what the next Philippine call centers could be like in the next few years, according to a company hosting call center solutions.
Five9, a American provider of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based contact center solutions, told reporters on Thursday that startup firms planning to go into small-scale offshore call center business can now plug into virtual call centers, and pay only monthly license fees amounting to an average of 300 dollars a month per seat.

"There are thousands of people in the Philippines who can own their call centers operations," said Brian Silverman, Five9 president and chief executive officer. However, the barriers to entry to setting up a call center are high.

"The next call center will not be a call center but a set of people working from different places. The next-generation call centers will be virtual," added Tim Keefe, president and chief executive officer of Synergia CyberCare Inc.

Keefe is also Five9 Philippines president while Synergia is a client and reseller of Five9 call center solutions.

Keefe said that the Philippine call center industry could become major "cottage industry" for Filipino entrepreneurs. Because of the country’s attractive prospects, Five9 is setting up a Philippine subsidiary next month as part of its expansion in Southeast Asia. It currently has an existing subsidiary in India.

"We're making a serious and significant direct investment in the
Philippines through the establishment of a subsidiary," Silverman said.

While the Philippine subsidiary will be engaged mainly in the sales and marketing of the Five9 call center solutions in the country, it will also open several "incubation" facilities throughout the country, starting in Caloocan City, Metro Manila.

The incubation facility will provide startup firms with "turn-key" solutions, including access to a Web-based marketing channel, fully-equipped workstations with broadband access to the Internet, and use of Five9's virtual call center for access to the North American markets. These incubation facilities will charge on a pay-per-use scheme.

The company has also partnered with the Dagupan-based Internet service provider Bitstop Networks and the local consultancy firm TGK-Asia in the Philippines in the deployment of Five9’s hosted call center solutions.

The US firm has about 20 clients in the Philippines. One of its biggest runs a 30-seat call center facility based in Ortigas center, Pasig City, Keefe said.

Five9 has been in the Philippines since August 2004. Worldwide, it has over 4,000 agents in 400 different firms.

DOST goes into Web-based GIS, mature technology portal

By Alexander Villafania INQ7.net

THE PHILIPPINE Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development-Department of Science and Technology (PCIERD-DOST) will soon introduce two new projects involving uploading a complete Philippine information map and an online portal for mature Philippine technologies.

PCIERD is hoping to get both projects ready by June this year, in time for National Science and Technology Week celebrations in July.

The first project, the Web-based Geographical Information System (GIS), highlights basic information about particular municipalities in the 17 regions in the Philippines, which could include basic local government data and natural resources.

This project aims to identify areas where resources are underutilized in order for government officers to direct resource management in these areas.

PCIERD executive director Graciano Yumul, Jr. said the GIS project points to regions where there are DOST projects, their description and their commercial viability. For now, the DOST is administering about 10,000 projects, which vary in size.

“The idea is for potential business partners or investors to scout for DOST projects being undertaken in specific regions. This will open new opportunities for our local science and technology entrepreneurs,” Director Yumul said.

He noted that the DOST has been receiving dozens of inquiries from investors or business partners looking for fundable and commercially viable projects in the Philippines. The GIS project is expected to significantly increase the number of queries, and hopefully more partnerships between local businesses.

PCIERD is currently conducting a series of meetings with DOST regional heads to finalize the parameters of standards for digitizing and uploading data.

The second project called the ‘Mature Technologies Portal’ is a compendium of mature technologies, which describes marketable projects, Yumul explained.

The Mature Technologies Portal is part of a series of sectoral technology compendiums and aims to build a comprehensive database of the latest commercially viable programs, mostly funded by the DOST.

Several other DOST agencies will be co-implementing the Mature Technologies Portal project with the PCIERD.

Yumul said that the Web-based GIS project received 440,750 pesos from the DOST. The Mature Technologies Portal received a 20 million peso budget from the e-Government Fund and a counterpart 10- million pesos from the DOST

US Census Bureau halts Internet 'phishing' scam

Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON -- The US Census Bureau said it was able to shut down a scam using e-mails directing people to a fake website in a bid to collect credit card numbers.
The scam, known in the Internet field as "phishing," began with e-mails offering a five-dollar cash reward to participate in a bogus online "Operation Iraqi Freedom 2005 Survey."

The e-mail included a link that took users to a "spoof" or fake Web page that appeared to be the official Census Bureau Internet site, where they were asked to answer questions and then provide their bank card number and authorization code to receive the reward.

The Census Bureau said the site was shut down Wednesday, within hours of the first reports, and that the FBI was investigating.

Recent surveys have shown growing use and sophistication of these types of schemes.

The security firm Websense said its survey of IT professionals said four percent of employees admitted that they had "fallen for a phish" and clicked through a link to a phishing website at work.

But because the sites appear authentic, 50 percent of the IT decision-makers surveyed do not believe that employees can accurately identify phishing sites

Friday, May 20, 2005

Intel helps fingers type faster

Chip giant Intel is backing a novel way to make it easier to input text on mobile handsets. At its autumn developer event, Intel showed off a concept universal communicator using the Fastap keypad that fits 26 letters alongside the numbers on a handset.

The Fastap keypad does away with the need to press keys several times to scroll through the letters associated with each number.

Intel's prototype device rolls together mobile phone technology with wi-fi, video and audio streaming and improved security.

Big partner

Fastap was developed by former Apple ergonomic design boss David Levy as a way to make it easier to enter text using the tiny keypad on a handset.

The design puts letters of the alphabet on raised buttons that fit between the keys.

Words can be typed by pressing the raised keys, and numbers by pressing the four keys that surround a particular number.

Intel is adapting the design for its concept gadget
Digit Wireless, which licences use of the Fastap technology, has signed deals with phone makers in the Far East but Intel is by far the largest technology firm to back the idea.

Intel is relatively new to the handset chip market but has ambitions to become a significant provider of the hardware inside the handsets that we carry around.

Intel has adapted the design for the concept universal communicator that was unveiled by Intel boss Paul Ottelini at the Developer Forum that took place from 16-18 September.

The concept gadget crammed together many of the technologies Intel believes consumers will look for in future smart phones.

Mr Ottelini said that Intel had to adapt as smaller, smarter gadgets become popular with consumers.

He said it had to look into new ways to make chips to cram more into the small form factors becoming popular.

The universal communicator is a mobile phone that also has onboard personal digital assistant functions, a video camera, several different wireless technologies and can stream audio and video to other devices.

Microsoft Phils. ups CSR a level higher


OLONGAPO, Zambales — Microsoft has taken the concept of companies implementing their own corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs a level higher through an expanded approach to global citizenship.

Microsoft Unlimited Potential is what the company calls "this global initiative that focuses on improving lifelong learning for underserved young people and adults by providing technology skills through community-based technology learning centers."

Clearly Microsoft does not have all the answers, but the company top honchos says that by working closely with government and non-government organizations and industry partners, the company hopes to be able to address "many of the most serious challenges facing our (the IT) industry and the communities where we conduct our business."

They say Microsoft believes that "by providing the greater access to technology, people can do amazing things to improve their lives and their community - regardless of culture, language, socio-economic standing and geography."

In the Philippines, at present, Microsoft Philippines implements two main "digital inclusion" programs- Unlimited Potential and Partners in Learning.

The Unlimited Potential grant is implemented in cooperation with Learn.ph which is working with two local non-government organizations. There are two project sites. Namely, People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA) Foundation center near Subic Freeport Zone; and the Manpower Skills and Training Center of Don Bosco near Clark Development and Economic Zone.

The CTLC in Don Bosco Clark in Pampanga and in Subic, Olongapo have formally been inaugurated during the past month.

The Pag-Asa (Hope) program was launched in June 2004 and provides technology training to Amerasian youth who are displaced, out-of-school, and victims of discrimination, particularly since the removal of US bases in the Philippines.

The goal is to give these youth better employment opportunities. Approximately 800 youths will receive basic computer literacy training, while 30 have gone on towards more comprehensive training and certification.

At the formal opening of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Learning Center at the PREDA head office, Alex Hermoso, program director and co-founder of PREDA Foundation, reported that he is glad to note that the big company-locators inside the Subic Freeport Zone has shown interest to implement their own CSR programs.

"Initial meetings have been done for these companies to provide a similar service for their staff," he said.

For his part, Zambales Vice Governor Ramon Lacbain III, expressed interest in seeing the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program extend to other local non-government organizations. Also to possibly have the indigenous people or members of the local tribal communities be trained in basic computer usage skills.

"The work falls on Learn.Ph, PREDA and the students to make a difference in their lives," said Mae Rivera, PR and Community Affairs manager of Microsoft Philippines.
While, Fr. Jomar Legaspi, executive director of Learn.Ph, remarked that it is giving them (the Amerasians) a dream to achieve, and stated, "this is a journey for us with them."

Fr. Shay Cullen, cofounder of PREDA, welcomed the establishment of the learning center. He said under the present economic hardship being experienced by Filipinos, it can be difficult to enrol in one school year.

Short Microsoft courses at the new technology education facility is thus a solution.
He said he does not want to see any computers idle. "We want to share it with the community, he remarked.

The first teacher at the center is Jason Snow, 23, who is a Microsoft-certified specialist. He is teaching eight courses.

Unlimited Potential is providing technology training to Amerasian youth who are displaced, out-of-school, and victims of discrimination, particularly since the US bases closed down.

Microsoft has made a five-year $1 billion commitment to the Unlimited Potential and other programs to bridge the digital divide. The recipients of this program span more than 45 countries in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America.

In the Philippines, a total of R91 million worth of grants were released in 2004 alone.

ITU chief calls for equitable information sharing

By Alexander Villafania INQ7.net

THE HEAD of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is urging both its members and world leaders to implement strategies and policies that will help least developed countries strengthen their communications infrastructure.

In celebration of the World Telecommunications Day, ITU Secretary General Yoshio Utsumi also urged participants to the previous World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) to reaffirm their commitment by joining in the second WSIS meeting in Tunis, Tunisia in November this year.

The World Telecommunication Day marked the 140th anniversary of ITU with the theme: " Creating an Equitable Information Society: Time for Action"

Utsumi stressed that the true test of an equitable information society is based on how today's latest communications tools can connect different cultures across geographic, economic and language divides.

"Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the unique potential to bring enormous progress to the entire world in the next decade. To realize this potential, the international community requires strong leadership capable of implementing appropriate international policy and strategy and of providing smooth, effective and transparent global coordination," Utsumi said.

World Telecommunications Day 2005 also celebrated several milestones, among them an increase in global population coverage of landline (40 percent) and mobile phone subscriptions (20 percent) and an estimated 700 million Internet users worldwide, or 11 percent of the global population.

"These positive developments underline the value of telecommunications services for people in all societies and all cultures, worldwide. However, such statistics hide the fact that an enormous amount still needs to be done to improve access for the majority of the world’s population living in rural or remote areas," Utsumi said.

The ITU president said the forthcoming WSIS 2005 will try to address clear targets for connecting remote towns and community services such as libraries, hospitals, and schools through a 10-point Plan of Action endorsed by members of the first WSIS meeting in 2003.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Brain cancer linked to mobile phone use in rural areas: study

PARIS (AFP) – A Swedish study is poised to sharpen debate about the safety of mobile phones, for it contends that users of digital phones in rural areas may be at greater risk of brain cancer.

Incidence of brain tumors in rural zones of Sweden was found to be far higher among users to the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) network than among rural non-users and also among GSM users in urban areas, the study says.

Its authors say the link is troubling, although they acknowledge that the amount of data is low and wider research is needed to amplify the findings.

As for the possible cause, the study suggests that mobile handsets in rural areas deliver a higher dose of electromagnetic radiation because they have to transmit a stronger signal to distant transmission masts.

Transmission masts in urban areas are close together, which means the phone’s signal and thus radiation level are correspondingly weaker it says.

The study, headed by Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology at University Hospital in Orebro, is published on Tuesday in specialist British journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The team trawled through a databank of the population of Central Sweden, a swathe of the country that includes its major cities as well as the remote countryside.

Around 1,400 adults aged between 20 and 80 were diagnosed with a malignant or benign brain tumor between January 1997 and June 2000.

Their profiles were compared with a similar number of healthy adults, matched for age and sex and living in the same geographical area.

The investigators sent out a questionnaire to all, to ask about daily use of mobile and cordless phones.

The study found that how long users spent on the phone had no impact on the probability of being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

But where they lived was a big factor, and especially for digital mobile phones.

Residents of rural areas who had been using a digital mobile for more than three years were more than three times likelier to develop a tumor than urban counter-parts.
Among those who had been using the phone for more than five years, the risk quadrupled.

No such effect was seen for old fashioned analogue phones or for cordless phones

The digital GSM system was launched in Sweden 1990, phasing out an analogue phone system that was started in Sweden in 1981. GSM is now dominant world standard for cell phones.

It uses a signal-intensifying system, called the adaptive power control, to compensate for distance between the user and the transmission mast. The signal intensity depends on the phone type, the model says.

Over the past six years, a series of studies, several of them carried out by the Orebro team, have suggested a higher a statistical risk of brain tumors among heavy and long term users of mobile phones.

But the picture is unclear, because other research sees no such link

Watchdog scientist in Britain, France and Sweden and elsewhere have insisted there is no evidence to support claims that mobile phones or their base stations are dangerous to health.

As a precautionary principle, however children under eight in Britain are being advised not to have their own handsets.

Phone shops told to register

DAVAO CITY — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the Davao Region has urged cellular phone retailers and repair shops to register to avoid closure and payment of penalties. NTC Director Josue Go said his men will conduct inspection of cellular phone shops and retailers to see to it that policies are complied with in order to protect the welfare of the consumers. Go said NTC requires cellular phone shops and dealers to submit business permits, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration certificates and technician’s accreditation issued by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
He said NTC will slap a fine of R5,000 on establishments found to have illegally purchased, sold, leased and retailed mobile phones and those without approved NTC acceptance labels and illegal importation of mobile phone accessories. Mobile phone dealers and repair shops without valid permits, Go said, will also be fined R5,000 and closed down.