Owner of ''8chan'' message board left for US: PNP
The owner of the online message board “8chan” has left the country, according to the spokesperson of the Philippine National Police- Anti-Cybercrime Group ( PNP-AKG).
In an interview with The Daily Manila Shimbun on Friday, Police Major Levy Lozada said based on information they received, Jim Watkins left the country after he was subpoenaed by the United States Congress after it was revealed that a suspect in the El Paso, Texas shooting incident posted on his website.
“Based on the information we got, he is not here in the Philippines. He already went out (of the country),” Lozada said.
In a summit in Manila, Police General Oscar Albayalde said the 8chan website was ''taken down immediately after the issue surfaced.”
Lozada said Watkins posted a video on social media saying he voluntarily shut down the website.
However, he said Watkins said made a statement he will restore the website after the US Congress hearing.
“He shut down the website and it could be up after he faces the US Congress… There is a possibility that he will bring back the website because he is the one who can control it,” Lozada added.
The ACG spokesperson said there is no indication that Watkins is an extremist or a supporter of an extremist movement.
Though he will not face charges once he return to the Philippines, Lozada said as a website administrator, he should at least provide an end-user agreement.
“Basically his platform is not illegal per se, it’s just the same as platforms like Youtube that it is not the website who is posting illegal things but the account users… he should have an end-user agreement like for example if (the post) violates the agreement, it can be removed,” he explained.
He said the PNP-ACG is ready to help their US counterparts if they decide to file a case against Watkins.
“If they need the help of PNP once he (Watkins) comes back, we can help the US law enforcement,” he added.
Lozada added that the website's former owner, Fredrick Brennan, went to their office to clear his name.
“He is committed to help. like for example, we have questions with regard to the website he created. He is willing to (help) based on his knowledge and whatever information he has,” he said.
Brennan created the website on 2013 and sold it to Watkins on 2015.
As of now, Lozada said they have not received reports Filipinos are engaged in these websites or own one. “Mostly the users came from US,” he said
Even Filipinos don’t create websites to post their extremist activities, he said most terrorists used the social media platform Facebook.
“They have bogus accounts and basically they upload there their beheading (and) activities that’s what we are looking at through cyber patrolling,” he said.
“Basically they can be arrested but there is a process- and that is the challenge for us, to determine who is the person behind the account so if it’s within Facebook, (we have) coordination with Facebook,” he added.
“If they will create a new one, the law enforcement will just follow the traces of their account like IP address, their location probably, if there is a contact number connected with the account, email addresses, that is usually the leads that law enforcement follows,” Lozada added.
Due to the incident, the PNP-ACG intensified their cyber patrolling where some of their groups are more focused on terrorism aside from other cybercrime and cyber-related threats.
“Once we saw an actionable information, like a terror plan or threat, we immediately forward it to the concerned PNP units who can further validate and investigate (the information) like the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Intelligence Group,” said Lozada.
“With the efforts of cyber patrolling, we have arrested some members of a terrorist groups,” he added.
He did not disclose more information because of confidentiality.
Lozada said they are not considering the “8chan” incident closed as there is a possibility the website will come back. “Once it comes back, we can monitor it,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS