I. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, officially recorded as Republic Act No. 10175, is a law in the Philippines approved on 12 September 2012. It aims to address legal issues concerning online interactions and the Internet in the Philippines. Among the cybercrime offenses included in the bill are cybersquatting, cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, illegal access to data and libel. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the first law in the Philippines which specifically criminalizes computer crime, which prior to the passage of the law had no strong legal precedent in Philippine jurisprudence.
While laws such as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8792) regulated certain computer-related activities, these laws did not provide a legal basis for criminalizing crimes committed on a computer in general: for example, Onel de Guzman, the computer programmer charged with purportedly writing the ILOVEYOU computer worm, was ultimately not prosecuted by Philippine authorities due to a lack of legal basis for him to be charged under existing Philippine laws at the time of his arrest.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has organized a regional expert meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, for a contribution to the UNODC global Study/Working Group on cybercrime. The Group shall study aims to strengthen existing national and international legal responses to cybercrime. The U.S. Senate has blocked the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Australia has enacted the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012, including the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. Judge Stein Schjolberg made a presentation on cybercrime at the 13th International Criminal Law Congress, Queenstown, New Zealand, The Dutch Minister of Security & Justice has in a letter to the Parliament expressed the Governments intention to draft new cybercrime legislation. (http://www.cybercrimelaw.net/Cybercrimelaw.html) If only for the fact that no less than a US-based advocacy group has expressed deep concern over the enactment of the country’s cyber-crime law, we are afraid the measure’s international repercussions are just beginning to be felt.
The ink has barely dried following President Aquino’s signing of the measure into law, but negative feedback is streaming in profusely. Indeed, while the law criminalizes certain acts – articles, blogs or utterances – on the Internet in the country, cyberspace is a very vast jurisdiction that goes beyond national borders. We are not steeped in the law, but we can’t help but wonder how the concerned authorities or main enforcers of the new law can “acquire jurisdiction” over persons named or charged for committing cyber-criminal acts. But then this is for the enforcers to worry about. The main fear is the curtailment of freedom of expression – a universal aspiration. The ruckus raised by the recently signed cybercrime law has attracted the attention of US-based non-profit group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which branded the legislation as a “troubling development for freed expression.” In a post, the group said it “is gravely concerned about the implications of the libel provision in the Cybercrime Act and supports local journalists and free expression advocates in opposing it”.
“When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the EFF is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people’s radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today,” it says in its website. On its site, EFF — composed lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, It is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on individual contributors for financial support — describes itself as an association that “champions the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights”. Closer to home, Teofisto Guingona III, the only who voted against the Cybercrime Law during its deliberations in the Senate, said he opposed the controversial law based on constitutional grounds because the measure imposes “prior restraint” on the freedom of expression and speech. “With this law, editors and owners of these sites will be forced to lock down their websites and prevent people from commenting.
I believe that editors can regulate the works of their writers, but if you gag the general public, surely the constitutional right to freedom of expression is threatened,” Guingona pointed out . He said the law transplanted the Revised Penal Code definition of libel without specifying who is liable, exposing the owner of online newspapers, blogs, and websites to liability. But Sen. Edgardo Angara, the main author of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, said the new law (Republic Act 10175) provides the legal framework for safeguarding basic freedoms such as freedom of expression, and for protecting Filipino Internet users from abuse. “The Internet has become so pervasive that it is already an essential component of many people’s lives. But as the technology evolved, so has the opportunity expanded for real harm to be done,” Angara said. He stressed that any ambiguity in the measure can be clarified in its implementing rules and regulations. According to RA 10175, government is tasked to formulate the IRR within 90 days of approval of the law, which was signed by President Aquino on September 12. Malacanang has also announced that an inter-agency body would start working on the IRRs of the cybercrime law. (http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/editorial/38585-cyber-cri0me-law)