Allowing China-backed Dito to build cell sites in military camps a ‘dumb’ move as security concerns hound PH — Carpio

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10)— Giving China-backed Dito Telecommunity the green light to build cell towers inside military camps is a “dumb” move as it raises more security and privacy concerns for the country, a former Supreme Court justice said Thursday.

Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio likened the move to China putting up a “listening device” inside the Philippines’ premises, adding that the East Asian giant has the capability to install spy software and applications through the towers.

“I think it’s very dumb of us to allow those towers to be installed inside military camps,” Carpio said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“Just imagine, putting a tower inside of the military camp— and the equipment, all those chips on these towers are made in China, they can just put in spy firmware, the software come from China,” he explained.

Carpio noted that such spy applications even allows eavesdropping or recording of people’s conversations, even with mobile phones turned off.

“You ask any security analyst who’s familiar with cybersecurity, and they will tell you, absolutely do not allow towers to be installed in your military camps. Because it’s like allowing China to put a listening device in your conference room… I think it’s a no-brainer,” the former magistrate stressed.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier this week confirmed that he had recently inked a deal allowing the new telecommunications player to install cell towers within camps, similar to mobile service providers Smart and Globe.

But privacy concerns were brought up anew following this pronouncement, with some officials and lawmakers citing Dito’s partnership with Beijing-run China Telecom.

Despite these claims, Dito on Wednesday assured that it will not obtain classified information inside military camps, saying the telco player will always serve the country's interests.

Last year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also allowed the country's third telco player to set up communications equipment in its camps, but was halted amid security concerns raised by some lawmakers.