In the recent years, a new term has raised “cybercrime”, which essentially focuses on the growing concern about the use of electronic communication for criminal activities. Because of certain “cybercrimes” the Republic Act (RA) No. 0175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which defines cybercrime as offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems; computer-related fraud, forgeries and identity-theft; and content-related offenses like cybersex, child pornography, unsought commercial communications and libel, was passed by Philippines’ president Benigno Aquino III on September last year but had come under fire for its vague definition of online libel, violation of personal rights, and tough legal penalties for Internet defamation.
In this study, whether Cybercrime Law is for protection or suppression is analyzed, its advantages and disadvantages and its effects on not just the citizens but also the country is stated. The Impact of Republic Act 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 on Filipino Citizens Web sites, e-mail, blogs, tweets, videos and images, message alerts, instant messaging, Facebook, voice chat, and other Internet-based technologies have begun to overtake the traditional media as primary information sources for a growing share of the world population.
These media enable media to create an open environment while speeding delivery of important information to the public. The web is rapidly evolving and is having impact on millions of people’s behaviors and opinions all over the world. Little more than a decade ago, all you could really do was read static content on web sites. Today, anyone can create rich and interactive content from anywhere in the world where there is a network connection and with any device.
The Internet and the Web has become an important part of Philippine Society. First, because the Internet has become the information highway of economic growth, second, because Internet Communication Technology and Computers have become a critical part of our daily lives and third, for all its imperfection cyberspace is a forum for ideas and a bastion of freedom, a fortress of Democracy.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the first law in the Philippines which specifically criminalizes computer crime, which preceding to the passage of the law had no strong legal guide in Philippine jurisprudence. Sometimes, a human being’s ability to misunderstand seems almost endless that is why certain groups have risen to question the legality of this law and some filed petitions to nullify some provisions of the law and the act has been criticized for its provision on criminalizing libel, which seems to be a restriction in freedom of expression.
The Aquino administration’s insistence that the country needs this law that essentially strips netizens of their freedom of expression, speech, and privacy only raises fears that the government is manhandling the laws of the land to silence critics and rebels and so it was dubbed as “e-Martial Law” legislation. The passage of RA 10175 gave a “chilling impact” to bloggers, online journalists, advocacy groups and especially normal netizens. Basically, the Cybercrime Law seeks to silence opposition whether in the real world or online. Purpose of Implementing the Cybercrime Law
The authors and supporters of this law claims that the law is needed to regulate how people behave in cyberspace. Rapid technology advancement has revolutionized how people share ideas on line, especially through social media. In the Philippines, with Internet penetration at 30 million or about 30 percent of the population, on line and social media has become a potent force. Including online libel for defamatory utterances and publications sets back the campaign to strike out the 80-year-old criminal penalties for libel under the Revised Penal Code.
Even though some are in favor of the new law because there is no doubt that we need a law on cybercrime to address the new breed of crimes spawned by the Internet such as online pornography and cyber prostitution they still could not deny the fact that its definition is indeed still vague. According to Aurea Calica of The Philippine Star, Malacanang stressed the importance of the Cybercrime Prevention Act to address Internet-related crimes. “I think nobody will argue that identity fraud should be a crime. Nobody will argue that our women and children need to be protected if they’re exploited for pornography on the Internet,” Valte said.
As the Law was enacted surely most of the citizens thoughts circled on what this law can do, what are the benefits that we may get or do we even get benefits from it being implemented? And as criticized by many, numerous advantages and disadvantages of the law are thought such as protection for business in the internet, Cyber Sex and Cyber Bullying may now be a crime and punishable, hacking and theft may be combatted with lifted technology knowledge for the government and the BPO may quickly respond to the demands of foreign clients for a strong legal environment that can secure their data from being stolen and sold.
Effect on the Country While the new Act received mixed reactions from several sectors, particularly with how its provisions could potentially affect freedom of expression, freedom of speech and data security in the Philippines the local business process outsourcing industry has received the new law well, citing an increase in the confidence of investors due to measures for the protection of electronic devices and online data.
Media organizations and legal institutions though have criticized the Act for extending the definition of libel as defined in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, which has been criticized by international organizations as being obsolete: the United Nations for one has remarked that the current definition of libel as defined in the Revised Penal Code is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and therefore violates the respect of freedom of expression.
While many Facebook and Twitter users and the portals of media organizations in the Philippines have replaced their profile pictures with black screens to protest the law, hacktivists had joined protests against the law by defacing several government websites for its provisions regarding e-libel, which they said violates the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression.
As reported by Camille Diola, of the Philippine Star, the hackers, collectively known as “Anonymous Philippines,” defaced the online presence of local government units including Bukidnon, Bolinao and Calasiao both in Pangasinan and Luna in Apayao Province and replaced them with a black screen, a logo and a message citing their right to freedom of expression. And as seen at the hacked webpages the hacktivitists left messages stating “What happened to the law? Are all laws meant to be broken?
Are they made to fool people, deprive them of their rights in exchange of what we believe as Heavens for Politicians? ” while quoting Article III, Section 4 of the Constitution providing the freedom of speech and expression. And as they all continue these actions, a group of petitioners against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has amended their complaint, asking the Supreme Court to also declare as unconstitutional some sections of the Revised Penal Code.
And these are; Article 355, which punishes libel and sets penalties for its commission, Article 353, which defines libel, Article 354, which states that malice is presumed for every defamatory accusation even if it is true, subject to limited exceptions, Article 361, which states that truth can be used as defense against libel so long as the material in question is published with good motives and for justifiable ends, and lastly Article 362, which states ‘malice’ can still result in criminal liability even for privileged matters as stated in Article 354.
Also regarding the “cybersex” provision of the cybercrime law, the petitioners said this section is “vague and overbroad. ” And of course the youth, which is mostly affected by this implemented law, also decided to take part in helping junk or amend the said law by filing petition to nullify some provisions of RA 10175. After all the scandal and backlash, Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago urged the Senate to pass a bill she filed, a new and improved version of the anti-cybercrime law, on November 12, calling it the “anti-cybercrime law version 2. . ” The proposed bill of the lady senator protects the right of the citizens against illegal searches and seizures by providing guidelines for any collection of any data, including the securing of warrants, obligating notification and limiting seizure to data and excluding physical property. In addition, R. A. 10175 violates the right to privacy and the Constitutional guarantee against search and seizure through allowing the warrantless real – time collection of data.
Moreover, the proposed bill provides for court proceedings in cases where websites or networks are to be taken down, and prohibits censorship of content without a court order. Finally, she seeks to clarify the mandate and organization of the proposed Committee of Information and Communications Technology to avoid confusion in the future. After quite some time on October 9, 2012, finally, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) because of several petitions, rants and protests, stopping implementation of the Act for 120 days.
Cybercrime Law: Protection or Suppression? At present time, the controversial law is still a “hot issue”. There are ongoing online debates, discussions and opinions about its vital role in regulating the cybercrimes here in the Philippines. As allies and critics speak out their fearless opinions about the provisions of this law, it is also a challenge for everybody to overcome too much internet use in order to malign gossip or even use it for their own selfish desires.
No matter how hard we try to unite everybody’s opinion with regard to the Cybercrime Law there will always be two sides of the story. Do we really need this law or is it just a matter of practicing self-regulation armed with right moral values? According to Ric on Internet Marketing, SEO in the Philippines, on an interview with philstar. com, the Center for Media Freedom ; Responsibility stressed how this law would affect internet regulations among Filipino “netizens” and their restricted mindset of the country’s leader while on the other hand, Mr.
Benedict Hernandez, Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) President said that, anti-cybercrime law is seen as a potential instrument for the progressive growth of the IT and BPO industry since the new law adds another layer of protection against theft and fraud for the industry. Should the Cybercrime Law be passed just for the reason that in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter it will not tolerate bullying or harassment?
That it will not just allow users to speak interest, but take action on all reports of abuse behavior directed at private individuals and that in such case the misunderstandings between each other may be lessened? Libel can be under that bullying case. It is defined as public and malicious freely on matters of public charge of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary or any act, blunder, condition, status or circumstance tending to discredit or cause the dishonor or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.
Or should it not be passed because being free from this kind of anti-people law is one single step to elevate the lives of every Filipino people, to become more productive, achieve maximum development and, as the government always reiterate, to become the citizens of the world? How can we all fulfill these if the cybercrime law continues to surround us, limiting us from things that we ought to know and do? There might be other options to avoid crimes online, not by merely passing of suppressing and vague laws so why not think of those other options that would or can be approved by both the citizens and the government?
By doing so both parties should, and clearly would, benefit from whatever other option they could think of that could replace the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. (2012, October 18). Disclosing clinical trials [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://assejpichon. wordpress. com/2012/10/18/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-republic-act-10173-and-ra-10175/ AYEE MACARAIG, (2012, November 30). Miriam proposes new anti-cybercrime law [Supplemental Material]. Rappler. Retrieved form http://www. rappler. com/nation/17045-miriam-proposes-new-anti-cybercrime-law
Camille Diola, (2013, January 15). ‘Anonymous Philippines’ hacks gov’t websites anew. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from http://www. philstar. com/cybercrime-law/2013/1/15/897221/anonymous-philippines-hacks-gov-t-websites-anew Krystal J. Mendez, (2012, October). Cybercrime Law Reaction [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://krystaljethmendezsexy. blogspot. com/2012/10/cybercrime-law. html Mark Meruenas, (2013, February 04). Amended petition vs. cybercrime law contests cybersex, regular libel. GMA News.
Retrieved from http://www. gmanetwork. com/news/story/293371/news/nation/amended-petition-vs-cybercrime-law-contests-cybersex-regular-libel Danny Pata, (2013, January 11) Youth leaders file petition to nullify some provisions of RA 10175 [Supplemental Material]. GMA News photos. Retrieved from http://www. gmanetwork. com/news/photo/30731/youth-leaders-file-petition-to-nullify-some-provisions-of-ra-10175 ELR, (2013, February 01). PHL hacktivists hint at Feb. 6 anti-cybercrime law protest. GMA News. Retrieved from