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DITO selects US cyber security provider

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Telco Dito Telecommunity Corp. startup is using US cybersecurity firm Fortinet as an essential technology partner in an effort to alleviate espionage concerns due to the involvement of Chinese state-owned firms in telecommunications.

Dito, backed by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uys Udenna Corp. and state-owned China Telecom, said in a statement that Fortinet was chosen as its top cybersecurity provider.

The announcement followed a recent agreement between Dito and the Philippine government to build cell towers inside military camps just as Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. had done.

This sparked new espionage concerns amid the warm embrace of Beijing’s Duterte administrations, despite Chinese violations in the Western Philippine Sea.

Fortinet claims its products are used by major companies, service providers and government organizations around the world, including the Philippines.

Dito Telecommunity will use Fortinets’ comprehensive network security platform, serving as its main provider of cyber security, Dito said.

The move could ease concerns from troubled neighborhoods about the presence of a Chinese-run telecoms inside military camps.

For one, critics have pointed to China’s intelligence and espionage laws mandating their companies to spy for the government when ordered.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he was against allowing Dito to build towers inside military facilities.

I am not in favor of them setting up cell locations in military camps. There are plots of land that are free there. Therefore I am not in favor of this creation, he said in a radio interview.

Dito minimized the risks of espionage, saying strict safeguards are available.

Dito Telecommunity guaranteed that its equipment, devices and structures will not be used to obtain classified information from the Armed Forces, Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano said last week.

Dito Telecommunity is first and foremost a company owned and operated by Filipinos and will always take care of the interests of Filipino people, he said.

Dito said it was keeping its commitment to launch commercial services to subscribers by March 2021, despite delays in the proliferation of cell sites0.

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