Editor’s note: We earlier featured a news and opinion piece on the Philippine Cybercrime law, notably online activist Tonyo Cruz’ take on the temporary restraining order issued against the Cybercrime Law late in 2012. In this syndicated guest article, online safety advocate Sonnie Santos pitches in with the pros and cons of the said legislation, in view of the pending expiry of the TRO.
Update: Interaksyon reported that Atty. JJ Disini said two possibilities could arise from the Supreme Court decision: one, that some of the controversial provisions could be struck down by the high court due to unconstitutionality; and two, that the entire law will be scrapped through a doctrine known as “facial invalidity,” prompting Congress to draft a new version of the law.
We all know that implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175 is suspended due to 16 petitions filed against it at the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Oral arguments are set for today, and if TRO will not be extended, implementation is likely in February.
Though public opinion is against the cybercrime law, it is better to be informed objectively of the facts of both sides so we can make an intelligent conclusion, rather than join the mob blindly. Now what are the arguments for or against the law?
Why we need a cybercrime law
Aside from the obvious reasons that we need to protect the citizen from abuses not covered by the e-Commerce act of 2000, Anti-child pornography act of 2009 and Anti Photo and Video Voyeurism act of 2009. The Philippines’ need to align itself to the Budapest Convention for international cooperation in cybercrime enforcement and investigation. Furthermore, the biz sectors clamor for a law that will protect their interests.
The crimes stipulated in the suspended Republic Act 10175 are as follows:
A. Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems
B. Computer-related offenses
C. Content-related offenses
E. Corporate liability
Why the current form of the cybercrime law is thought to be in bad taste
1. The cybercrime law is a special law – According to Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, special laws dont need a criminal mind to be convicted. In short, good faith or lack of intent to do harm is not a defense. Therefore, liking or retweeting potentially libelous posts can get you in trouble.
2. section 4 - The law includes libel as crime and increased its penalty, but failed to define how the crime can be committed.
3. section 5 - Facebook likes and retweets can be a violation of the cybercrime law.
4. section 6 - The 1st “catch-all provision” makes the crime committed under the revise penal code graver with the use of technology.
5. section 12 - Allows the law enforcement agencies the work around to monitor our online activities without our knowledge.
6. section 19 - The take-down clause violates due process.
7. section 20 - The 2nd “catch-all provision” clause is also known as the draconian rule of martial law.
8. Aside from libel, another supposed crime that violates freedom is cyber sex, because even legit couples are prohibited from engaging in that.
There is no doubt we need a legal framework to fight cyber crime, but this should not violate our right to privacy, due process and freedom of expression. I hope the supreme court will have wisdom to deal with what is best for the country.
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About the author
Sonnie Santos is a digital HR consultant and cyber wellness coach. He runs the Web Safety Philippines (WSPH) Training and Consultancy Services, through which he imparts wisdom and practical knowledge on safe and secure use of IT resources in the workplace, school and home.
This article originally appeared on WSPH, and was re-published with permission.