Philippine cybercrime law takes effect amid protests

 
A man looks at a facebook account in Manila on 29 September, 2012 Under the new act, someone found guilty of libellous comments online could be fined or jailed

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A controversial law targeting cybercrime in the Philippines has come into effect, fuelling protests by citizens and media groups fearing censorship.

The new law, called the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, was signed by the president on 12 September.

It is intended to prevent cybersex, online child pornography, identity theft and spamming, officials say.

But it also makes libel a cybercrime punishable by up to 12 years in jail.

The act was enacted by congress "to address legitimate concerns" about criminal and abusive behaviour online, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Questions have been raised about the constitutionality of certain provisions of the act. We recognise and respect efforts not only to raise these issues in court, but to propose amendments to the law in accordance with constitutional processes," he said.

The act took effect despite the protests by those who oppose the law.

At least eight petitions from various groups challenging its constitutionality have been filed with the highest court in the Philippines, local media report.

Anonymous activists have hacked into government websites, journalists have held rallies and many Facebook users have replaced their profile picture with a blank screen, says the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila.

Protesters say the legislation could be used to target government critics and crack down on freedom of speech.

Under the new act, a person found guilty of libellous comments online, including comments made on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter or blogs, could be fined or jailed.

Government officials will also have new powers to search and seize data from people's online accounts, says our correspondent.

The US-based Human Rights Watch said that the law would harm free speech in a statement last week.

"The cybercrime law needs to be repealed or replaced," said the group's Asia director, Brad Adams.

"It violates Filipinos' rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government's obligations under international law."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    The law may have come about to address legitimate concerns, but it absolutely WILL be abused in a country where police, lawyers and judges can be very easily bought off. What do you expect of a country where convicted criminals can be re-elected? A few families have a strangle hold on busuness and politics in Philippines. That hold needs to be broken.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 24.

    Is this the same Philippines whose minister of justice proclaimed a year ago that there would be no laws made to cover cybercrime because, "judges could not be expected to know about computer technology."? Well! Well!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    Any website that is published should be regulated with the same laws as a newspaper that is published, in my humble opinion.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    Meanwhile, the country fails to provide even the most basic needs like food and shelter to 70% of the population. Why should this law even have been passed amidst this background? Was this even based on public opinion? Informed this sprouted from a senator plagiarising. Proven but not found guilty. A personal vendetta? Questions my country will always fail to answer to its own people. Typical.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 21.

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this specific legislation, the free speech at all costs brigade seem to think it's ok to do things on the internet that they wouldn't get away with in face to face everyday situations. Freedom of speech is not a charter for illegal defamation or harassment if you find yourself the victim of such a crime don't expect much help sorting it out

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 20.

    There is a world of difference between internet cybersex and prostitution. There must be hidden agenda behind this draconian law.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Anyone else feel like this page has been subjected to a bout of spam similar to the comments you get on a blog/forum? You know, they use whole sentences and almost make sense...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 18.

    I can't help feeling this law serves another purpose than to protect young girls from the cybersex industry. This could be easily accomplished by blocking the websites of the porn industry who recruit these girls but instead a law is passed that is difficult to enforce. If there was concern about the sex industry then surely the prostitution that goes on openly would be the first issue to address.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 16.

    Feeling really sorry for any country where their leadership are so frightened of the people they serve. Imagine a restaurant where you'd be shot asking for ketchup. Truly ridiculous.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 15.

    This smacks of US influence of part of the discredited Patriot Act. There are sufficient laws to deal with paediophiles, one of the problems is that the prosecutors, lawyers and all others above suspicion have turned out to be part of the problem and have been implicated in the past with crime that they are paid to investigate and prosecute.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 14.

    Although there is a sinister undertone to this law, have any of you that have commented been to Asia? There is a serious problem with prostitution, especially with underage girls. That is why there is a 12 year sentence. This is a very serious problem for many developing countries in SE Asia and something is finally being done to combat it (albeit in the most corrupt country in the world but still

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 12.

    #6 Derges, you clearly have no idea about the law regarding slander and libel. If you say those kinds of things in the 'real world' without justification, then you may well find yourself in court. It should, however, be a civil matter, not a criminal one, and 12 years in jail is beyond excessive.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 11.

    We in Britain should take leaf out of the Philippines book and implement the same law here, I think it is a great idea and would stop idiots from using the internet such as paedophiles, perverts, racists and dentists.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 10.

    If it is a crime in the real world, so should it be a crime in the virtual world; if you hide behind a tag, you should required to provide your real ID as part of the registration process, so that you can be persued and penalised when you break the law. If you abuse someone in real life you are liable to be prosecuted; why should the cyber world be different?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 9.

    See its trying to prevent cybercrime but 12years in prision? Isn't it suppose to depend on the offence. Well if your trolling someone seriously enough in the UK you can find yourself in prision

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 8.

    Just wait for misuse of this law to settle old scores!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    They should be thrown off the United Nations Human Rights Council for this, but they won't be because it's a joke.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    @ 4.
    "Pics or it didn't happen" - one of the oldest sayings on the internet.

    Also no-one can or will stop me from making similar statements in the real world (privately or in public) why is it a problem online?

 

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