Sunday, April 28, 2013

The 10 commandments of the Philippines' Cybercrime Law

  1. You shall only say nice things on the Internet--This is the main fault attributed to the law: It's a violation of the Freedom of Expression with its cyberlibel provision. Thanks to this provision inserted "without knowledge" by most of the lawmakers, if you say something bad against certain people on the Internet, you can be charged in court. What's more, according to Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, this not only applies to statements you make on the Internet but also on smartphones or with any device you use to access the Internet. So yes, this covers texting.
  2. You cannot tell the Truth, whether joking or seriously, if it hurts someone--In relation to the 1st Commandment, regardless if you state a fact or you use satire or sarcasm or even say something in a joking tone on the 'net, you can still be held liable for cyberlibel for impugning against another person's supposed dignity as per the anti-libel law of the Revised Penal Code.
  3. What you say can be held against you forever--According to online legal expert Atty. JJ Disini, because of the nature of your online posts, anything you posted years ago that are still live today can be still held against you in a court of law.
  4. What you like can also be held against you--In relation to the 3rd Commandment, liking a FB post can be considered as abetting libel. Retweeting a probably libelous tweet might be covered here as well so be warned.
  5. The government now has the power to take down your Internet--Thanks to the power given by the law, the Department of Justice, together with its arms in the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police have the power to order the shutdown of Web sites if there is prima facie evidence of violation of the law--even without a court warrant.
  6. Your Internet is required to compile evidence against you--In relation to the 5th Commandment, Internet service providers are now required to keep their data for six months after which they can be forced to keep it for six more months if authorities request it.
  7. You can be punished more harshly for online crimes than for real life crimes--Thanks to the wording of the law, punishment for those charged with this law is "one degree higher" than that provided for in the Revised Penal Code. Because of this, if you're charged with online libel, you can be fined a million bucks or spend 12 months in jail.
  8. You must trust the government to do the right thing in implementing the law--The government refuses to budge on this law, saying the public should trust them to come up with the proper Implementing Rules and Regulation to ensure that there won't be abuses of the law despite the vague wording. This after the some of the lawmakers who signed the law admitted they had no idea what had gone into the law.
  9. The law shall apply to all Filipinos wherever they are--Just because you think you're not in the Philippines, you can escape jurisdiction from this Philippine law. Think again: this law has universal jurisdiction. Even your electronic devices that are situated (or even partly) in the Philippines are under jurisdiction under this law.
  10. The law doesn't really protect you--Supposedly it goes after identity-theft. However, because of the heavy provisions against online libel, a hacker can take over your account and post libelous stuff, and then pull out. From the safety of distance, he can watch the fireworks fly as the government screws you over. So yes, it can protect industries and the rich and powerful, just not you.
(Credit to Joseph H. Nacino of The Virtual Eye)

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.
While hailed for penalizing illegal acts done via the internet that were not covered by old laws, the act has been criticized for its provision on criminalizing libel, which is perceived to be a curtailment in freedom of expression.
On October 9, 2012, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a temporary restraining order, stopping implementation of the Act for 120 days, and extended it on 5 February 2013 "until further orders from the court."