Will a China-owned telco operating in the Philippines spy on Filipinos?

For one thing, it is a bit presumptuous to think spying on the minutiae of day-to-day lives of ordinary Filipinos is an important enough main objective for a multi-million dollar investment in network infrastructure and telco service delivery capability. There really isn’t much to learn from data collected from Filipino Internet users beyond what Facebook and Google already use these for (mainly selling consumerist trinkets and entertainment products). One just needs to check out — through publicly-accessible sites and facilities — what the “trending” topics and hashtags of the hour in the Philippines are. It’s not a pretty sight. If there is a term opposite of the colloquialism “nosebleed”, that would be the term to describe the topics Filipinos are obssessed with on a day-to-day basis.

Marketers don’t even need sophisticated Big Data analytics to figure out what Filipino consumers want. For that, they just need to watch noontime Filipino television to figure out the best products (and media entertainment genres) to pitch to Filipino consumers. As for the task of amassing data sets useful for mining insights relevant to military intelligence, well, one would be hard-pressed to think of a military application for data collected from Filipino “millennial” chatter about their imported Chinese-made fashion accessories.

In short, the sort of “spying” Filipino “activists” are screeching about is not worth anyobody’s while. Filipinos are notoriously easy to manipulate en masse. They quickly flock from one outrage or feel-good fad to another at the drop of the next media bomb. Throw a Filipino a basketball and they will likely drop the packet of chicharon they had been munching on. We can see this collective behaviour even in political discourse on social media (where, one would think, the “best and brightest” of Filipino Netizens congregate). One moment they are gnashing their teeth over the “outrage” of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s successful extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, then, on another, are waxing outrage poetry in Twitter “threads” over his granddaughter Isabelle Duterte’s expensive taste.

Fear-mongering Filipino ‘activists’ need to do a bit of homework before screeching out their thoughts.
(Source: Twitter)
In light of all this, it remains glaringly evident that mainstream mass media wields far more power than any telco service armed with network ubiquity and listening devices would. Maine Mendoza would be a far more valuable asset to a corporation in the business of peddling political influence than a proprietary network of fibre-optic cables, mobile cellular towers, and satellite transponders. What these shrill “activists” clucking out outrage over a Chinese-owned telco provider playing in the Philippine market fail to realise is that Filipinos’ own domestic mass media corporations have, for so long, already been doing what these “activists” have been fear-mongering about.

Filipinos don’t need shady Chinese or Russian propagandists to influence their politics. Their own local “thought leaders” are already doing that, thank you very much. They do not need a telco network to glean insight on what makes the Filipino mind tick. Eat Bulaga had already figured that out way back in the 1970s. Thank you very much.

What Filipinos should actually be thankful for is seeing a third telco player rescue their lot from the “services” of the current Telco monopolies. Just assume the position. Hostile, dog style, any style will do.

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18 Comments on “Will a China-owned telco operating in the Philippines spy on Filipinos?”

  1. Everyone would be shrieking even if it were an American, French, or Finnish company bidding for the phone system. What terrifies Filipinos the most is the prospect of other people proving to be less incompetent than they are. Because then they’d have to start asking soul-searching questions like: why do Finns achieve more, with less work, than we ever have in the last 50 years? And they won’t like the answers.

    As long as the companies ripping them off, spying on them, and feeding them propaganda are all (theoretically) run by Filipinos, they’re good with that. The propaganda makes them feel good (“it’s all the fault of the Chinese!”) so they just lap it up.

    Of course, there is ONE area where Filipinos are acknowledged world leaders, and if the Chinese Telcos have any sense, they’ll stay away. They might think they have enough experience dealing with corrupt, criminal governments in Africa (or their own government, for that matter), but Filipinos are here to show them how it’s done properly.

  2. No need to ask. They’ve already been spying on us before the fact. See all these devices that bear the brands of Chinese companies that enable WiFi and internet connectivity? They’ve been monitoring us already before we even raise the issue. Why bother?

  3. OF COURSE THEY ARE, BUT…ask yourselves…WHY? WTF do the Chinese Elites give one good damn about what is happening in most Filipino’s homes ? The Filipino people are ,for the most part, poverty stricken…so the Chinese aren’t gaming the countries citizenry for any idea’s on how to get rich,yes?
    The will do so for the most morally indefensible reason: BECAUSE THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT…and laugh ta you all while doing it.
    Get over the paranoia though, seriously…NO ONE GIVES A SHIT WHAT THE AVERAGE FILIPINO IS UP TO !

  4. breaking the monopolies that SMART AND GLOBE have can not be that bad a thing, lower prices….good for business..who cares if your sex tape of your GF ends up in some Hong Kong sleaze shop ?

  5. A culture cannot lie down with dogs and not become utterly infested with fleas. The dogs, in this case, are the mongrel media and the corporate overlords who have grown fat on manufactured controversy and fear mongering.

  6. Yeah cause it’s not like the current slew of local ISP companies, Google and Facebook are already doing that right? Right? RIGGHHTTT???

  7. Backward thinking… facebook knows what ur doing already.. they knew what ad to place in ur account amd this is according to what youve been doing online. This is why a lot of business do the ads on fb coz they(fb) already categorized you. But really, what can they possibly spy more on us? Our defense research? Hahaha kidding me ? So u think globe and pldt is not spyig on us?

  8. The Chinese does not need TelCo, to spy on the Filipinos. They are already in every town, every Barangay in our country. They own businesses, from the smallest sari sari store to the largest MegaMall in the Philippines. They have also political clout like the Aquino Cojuangco political axis. They are in every kind of businesses. From the manufacture and sale of illegal drug, called Shabu to legal businesses like : manufacturing , wholesaling and retailing.

    They hold the Filipino consumers on their “bayag”….the OFW remittances, go directly to the Hong Kong, China Banks.

    TelCo will surely monopolize the telephone industry; and will collect useful data on every Filipino.

    1. I don’t think “useful data” and “Filipino” belong in the same sentence, Hyden.

      The reason the Chinese own all the businesses (those draconian 60/40 rules clearly aren’t working, are they?) is really simple: Filipinos don’t want to. They’d rather have the Chinese do all the hard work so they can sit around being poor and complain about the Chinese.

      As for this uber-important “Aquino Cojuangco political axis”, the solution to that is also simple: normal Filipinos need to form their own axis. But, again, they’re all so busy inventing ridiculous feuds between themselves, there’s absolutely no chance of getting more than three Filipinos working together without a fight to the death occurring somewhere. The “Aquino Cojuangco political axis” know this. That’s why they rule.

      1. @marius:

        I write my sentences , the way I like . Are you some sort of a censor or grammar teacher ? If you don’t like what I write; don’t read them.

        1. Your grasp of grammar is so bad that you apparently didn’t notice I wasn’t criticizing your grammar (this time).

          Life hack for the day, though: whenever you feel the urge to add a comma or semicolon, don’t. It will improve your writing.

        2. @Marius:

          Who cares…I don’t need your help. Mind your own business. You think you are know it all ? You are a paid troll of Aquino, A running dog of the Aquino Cojuangco political axis.

        3. You do need help. You just don’t want it.

          Subtle difference.

          Wait, I thought I was a running dog for the CIA?

  9. Filipinos are so histrionic that we don’t need any spying by a foreign nation. I’m sure a Filipino is self-righteous enough to declare that he deserves to take someone else’s house or spouse for free.

    It’s also the same as when some say, “what if China invades?” That is as dumb as a doornail. It’s common sense to see that invading and taking us over will present a lot of ridiculous problems, and we don’t have a lot of resources that China’s huge land mass already has or could benefit from.

  10. ha! feel that ship may have sailed. state grid corporation of china has ownership stake in our national grid corporation of the philippines (ngcp).

  11. Who cares about China Telecoms will spy on us if they’ll gonna invest it in here & challenge Globe & Smart on the telco wars in our country, the most important is if they could compete it fairly, their services are really great & follow the laws in our country, and not in China. And besides, even the free country like the US of A have an issue on the invasion of privacy & online surveillance as what the former NSA employee & whistleblower, Mark Snowden had exposed to the media before that his government are doing these kind of the so-called the “Big Brother” act, the American public didn’t concern about it & so are we, if we’re not so paranoid about this conspiracy theory thing. As what I told, if China Telecoms will invest here in our country & become the 3rd telco player, then they should follow our laws in here to operate their business & not in their country, China as a part of sovereignty to our land. And yes, we’re lucky enough that Philippines is the most liberated internet in Asia in spite of a very slow internet connections here [Jack Ma, you’re right about the speed of the internet here] unlike in China which is the opposite. Well thank God that we could speak freely here in GRP without the government censorship, if I could post this message in China, I could get arrested by the Chinese authorities & block this website, and worst, the webmaster(s) of GRP will get arrested as well! Hopefully, China Telecoms will not do that to their Filipino clients & follow our laws & not the Chinese laws or else, they should revoke their business licenses here & go back to their home country because our president, Duterte will surely protect the interests of the Filipinos & not himself & we’ve seen his actions lately like declaring the Martial Law in Mindanao when there’s a Marawi siege last May & some of his cabinet members had been kicked out or fired due to their corruption.

    But if your very concern if China Telecoms will gonna spy on us just like what Mr. Marco Harder said on above, then don’t go to that company or better yet, if you have an Android smartphone, just download this home security-esque app called Haven which is created by none other than, again, former NSA employee & whistleblower Mark Snowden. This is the best solution to your “Big Brother” paranoia: https://www.wired.com/story/snowden-haven-app-turns-phone-into-home-security-system/

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