I am still in awe at how fast our goverment/ lawmakers/ politicians could enact a law that will protect their vested interest first as fast as lightning. The Cybercrime Act was signed into law in an instant without delaying tactics or whatever while the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) is still pending when it needed to be passed as soon as posible (even during the onset of the impeachment trial of the former Chief Justice Renato Corona).
As much as they (our politicians) are trying to make it appear that our government officials signed this law to protect the public (the law was signed into law last September 12, 2012 after the arrest of foreign nationals committing cybercrimes defrauding their victims of more than Php20million a day) , netizens, including I, I can not disregard the real interest behind this as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 10175) included Online Libel in it’s provisions.
Unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.Art. 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. — A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from Php200.00 to Php6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party. (Source Digital Filipino.com)
What can be considered as libelous?
Libel is a type of defamation that involves written or pictorial statements that damage another party’s reputation. Slander, the second type of defamation, involves statements that are spoken or gestured. Defamation is any false statement about a person’s character, morals, business practices, abilities, financial status, and the like that is deliberately intended to damage his reputation. A person who has suffered as a result of libel may have the legal right to seek compensation for their losses in a civil libel lawsuit. (Source Criminal Law Lawyer)
To me signing this law and the inclusion of Online Libel on its punishable acts is curtailing netizens (bloggers, journalist, social media enthusiasts) freedom of speech as we are no longer allowed to criticize and scrutinize wrong acts of government officials or otherwise as we will all be threated for violating the Cybercrime Act for saying such truths. As the truths we will say online can be twisted as libelous.
I cannot believe how fast the president signed this law not even thinking that the country has the resources to fully impliment such law. Among the other punishable acts in the law included :
- hacking (illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference,
- computer related forgery and fraud
- computer related identity theft
- child pornography
- aiding or abetting the commission of cybercrime
Just some scenario for consideration:
- What if an alleged hacker used a public internet cafe to commit the crime of illgeal accesss to a website? Will the internet cafe owner be punished for allegedly allowing his cafe to be used for the crime when the hacker just rented a computer?
- What if someone spreads rumors to a person online, the rumor spread like wildfrire, “trended” in terms of Twitter. In Twitter we are only limited to find the “top” news/source of the tweet. What if that top source was not the one who first posted that rumor but since he/she got the most followers who retweeded she got on top making it appear that she was the source?
- An online content can be easily deleted.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is our government has limited resources to fully back the Cybercrime law and impl\eiment it to the fullest. I will not be surprised if there will be a gunea pig for this just so they can prove their point that we need this law. (By the way how much is the budget for this act and the creation of the agency to handle such cases? Does anyone here know?)
When in fact what we need is for the Freedom of Information Bill to be passed now so that the so-called transparency by giving guarantee access by the general public to data held by its government. FOI is very important and needs to be passed right especially now that another election is on it’s way! I don’t know why our lawmakers are afraid of the FOI when there are so many ammendment already (proposed substitute to FOI) to this law making information the publi free to access is just basically their SALNs.
How about you, what are your thoughts on the recently signed Cybercime Prevention Act and the inclusion of online libel in its punishable provisions? Speak up!
Stay gorgeous everyone!
UPDATE: (Sept.21, 2012) I just read a news that Sen. Tito Guingona III, the only senator who opposed RA10175 or Cybercrime Law, will be challenging this law in any court available, Supreme Court of Congress . Read the news here .