By now, most of you might have heard of the Boy Bastos news and the search warrant made by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Mark Verzo’s house earlier. Mark is the owner of the site BoyBastos.com and also a blogger who owns a blog network. The portal is currently down as instructed by the authorities.
I won’t talk about any legalese here as I’m not in authority to discuss those issues. From my point of view, and having dealt with people from the NBI before on a similar situation, here are my tips to avoid the same treatment from them.
- Don’t insult or taunt Loren, or anyone with political power, authority, clout or influence for that matter. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of their dark half. I think Mark’s situation got worse because he was challenging the senator to get him.
- Clean up your act. If you think you’re a little guilty or in the borderline, best remove them from your site and issue a no-cache command on search engines. Just hope they didn’t make screen shots or cached copies of the offending materials.
- Anonymity is not absolute. You can hide behind layers of proxy or veils of internet protection and still be traceable to a certain degree. Someone, somewhere will be able to track you down somehow. They could always go to your provider and threaten them to give out your personal information. Yahoo! did that in China. So did Microsoft, AOL and Google — with proper government pressure.
- Check all your nicknames, handles, emails, pictures if they reveal your real identity. A Friendster account, LinkedIN, MySpace, Facebook can giveaway vital information to reveal your true name, contact information and even address.
- Block certain IP segments. Most government offices have assigned static IP ranges. You can make it harder for them to investigate you if you block IP segments from your site. If they don’t know any better, they’d think your site is down and won’t bother re-checking.
- You have the right to remain silent. Use that right always. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Don’t even bother responding to any demand letter — they could use it as evidence later on.
- Pull out your own list of networks — sometimes, it’s a game of who knows who. Let’s admit it — in the Philippines, things get done faster if you’re way up there (or knows someone) in the food chain.
- Here’s a trick I learned from the movie Sword Fish — diversion. Create multiple fake names, multiple fake addresses, multiple online accounts, and even fake pictures and make them as realistic as possible. If they’ll be searching for you online, they’ll be swamped with different and conflicting names and address. That could buy you some time to withdraw all your money and fly to the Cayman Islands or some country where there’s no extradition treaty with the Philippines.
- Get yourself a good lawyer. That’s the best advise I could give anybody.
Yes, we can always claim freedom of expression and the lack of provisions in the penal code for such internet activities, still we can’t avoid the fact that bullying is one trick people in high places have mastered over the years.
So, who’s next?