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Interaksyon reported that Atty.  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 is set today, and if TRO will not be extended, implementation is likely on 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 sector, clamor for a law that will protect their interests. Furthermore, the cyber harassment and lynching of private individuals that happened for the last 2 years, is a good argument to support this law so the state can protect private individuals.

As a consequence of the internet, maligning someones reputation

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

  • Illegal access to the whole or any part of a computer system without rights
  • Illegal interception of any non-public transmission of computer data to, from, or within a computer system
  • Data interference such as alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of data without rights, including the introduction or transmission of viruses
  • System (computer or computer network) interference
  • Cyber-squatting or the acquisition of a domain name over the Internet in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy reputation, and deprive others from registering the same
  • Misuse of devices

B. Computer-related offenses

  • Computer-related forgery (input, alteration, or deletion of data) without rights resulting in inauthentic data, with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic
  • Computer-related fraud (input, alteration, or deletion of data or interference in the functioning of a computer system) causing damage
  • Computer-related identity theft or the acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of the identifying information of another person

C. Content-related offenses

  • Cybersex or the engagement, maintenance, control, or operation of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system
  • Child pornography or the unlawful acts as defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 committed through a computer system
  • Unsolicited commercial communications which seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale products and services
  • Libel or unlawful acts as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code

D. Others

  • Aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime
  • Attempt in the commission of cybercrime

E. Corporate liability

  • If any of these offenses are knowingly committed by a natural person on behalf of or for the benefit of a juridical person, the latter shall be held liable for fines enumerated above up to a maximum of PHP 10,000,000.
  • If, for the benefit of the juridical person, the offense was made possible because of a natural person’s failure to supervise or control, the former shall be held liable for fines enumerated above up to a maximum of PHP 5,000,000.

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– included libel as  crime, increased it’s penalty but failed to define what is libel.

3. section 5 – Facebook likes and retweets can be a violation of the cybercrime law.

4. section 6– the 1st “catch-all provision” that makes the crime committed under the revise penal code a cyber crime when they use a computer or internet system, albeit with higher penalties. For example: a violation of intellectual property code, when you use file sharing and torrents is now a cyber crime.

5. section 12– allows the law enforcement agencies the work around to monitor not only real time internet traffic, but even the content of our online activities and online conversations, without our knowledge

6. section 19– the take down clause violates due process.

7. section 20– is the 2nd of the “catch-all provision” clause. An old draconian law used during martial law is used in this law to run after anyone who will not cooperate or comply with the provisions of this act.

8. Aside from libel, another supposed crime that violates freedom is  cyber sex . Whether you are a legit or married couple, and for whatever reason, your partner is someplace else, consenting to cyber sex is still illegal.

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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