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Source : Sonnie Santos is a digital HR consultant and cyber wellness coach.

He runs the Web Safety Philippines (WSPH) Training and Consultancy Services, through which he imparts wisdom and practical knowledge on safe and secure use of IT resources in the workplace, school and home. This article originally appeared on WSPH, and was re-published with permission. Does the Philippines need a cybercrime law? Yes, but the current one still has some issues that legislators need to resolve, says online safety and security consultant Sonnie Santos. Editors note: We earlier featured a news and opinion piece on the Philippine Cybercrime law, notably online activist Tonyo Cruz take on the temporary restraining order issued against the Cybercrime Law late in 2012. In this syndicated guest article, online safety advocate Sonnie Santos pitches in with the pros and cons of the said legislation, in view of the pending expiry of the TRO. Update: Interaksyon reported that Atty. JJ 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 are set for today, and if TRO will not be extended, implementation is likely in 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 sectors clamor for a law that will protect their interests. 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

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

D. Others

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

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 persons 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 - The law includes libel as crime and increased its penalty, but failed to define how the crime can be committed.

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

3. section 5 - Facebook likes and retweets can be a violation of the cybercrime law. 4. section 6 - The 1st catch-all provision makes the crime committed under the revise penal code graver with the use of technology. 5. section 12 - Allows the law enforcement agencies the work around to monitor our online activities without our knowledge. 6. section 19 - The take-down clause violates due process. 7. section 20 - The 2nd catch-all provision clause is also known as the draconian rule of martial law. 8. Aside from libel, another supposed crime that violates freedom is cyber sex, because even legit couples are prohibited from engaging in that. 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.

The challenge now is to implement the spirit of the law and not the letter so that ultimately, the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012 will not be an avenue to violate civil liberties, he said. The IRR should clearly set the limits of the human right and freedom: where freedom ends and where responsibility starts. The IRR should make sure that the new law will be just and humane, Baylon added. An advocate of using social media as an evangelizing tool, the prelate reminded netizens to think before you click, especially after the Philippines was regarded as the social media capital of the world and how social networking stirs the social climate. (YouthPinoy)

Rethinking the Cybercrime Act Posted in Fragments October 3, 2012Black avatars and themes peppered social networks and local online media, a collective statement from Filipino netizens protesting the promulgation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The Supreme Courts silence over petitions for a temporary restraining order amplified Malacanangs pronouncement of the controversial bill that day. But between the Philippine government and its people, the law exists. While it makes no legal expert out of every citizen, reading and understanding the provisions can enlighten the mind; those who go on at length to educate others or themselves must have seen the value of appropriate action and the bane of random reaction. Perspectives matter The bulk of complaints from the netizens, the demographic singled out by the Act, besieges the inclusion of the cyberlibel clause. Factoring in all clauses, Department of Justice Cybercrime Chief Geronimo Sy clarified, on a PTV Special Forum, that what the legislation primarily sought to persecute are perpetrators of transnational organized crime including telecoms fraud, identity theft, and illegal online sex trade. In this light, the law was passed as a throwback to threats on citizens rightsreferring to majority of those citizens as the companies from the business process outsourcing industry. A little backtrack This was not the first time a law of this nature had been passed. Prior to Republic Act 10175, the E-Commerce Act (RA 8792) was enacted in June 2000 as a recourse to online risks imposed by the I Love You virus. A month before that, a certain Onel de Guzman allegedly spread the infamous computer bug whose damages netted $2-5 billion. The culprit never got prosecuted for his crime. But from then on, a couple of cybercrime bills had been passed in Congress. There had been sporadic efforts to tighten security and strengthen policies regarding Internet use. The first Internet libel case was filed within 2001-2002; the first cybercrime conviction happened in 2005. Ms. Janette Toral, owner of, provides a comprehensive timeline of the transition from the E-Commerce Law to the AntiCybercrime Law.

Give the anti-cyber crime law a chanceprelate MANILA, Sept. 24, 2012Even if the newly constituted Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175 is earning the ire of media practitioners, online journalists, and netizens, a Catholic leader has urged the public to give it a chance. Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon said the human right to access information and to freely expresswhich the Cyber Crime Prevention Act is supposed to be defyingis not absolute. Lets give it a chance. After all, freedom has its consequent duty and responsibility, Baylon said. The chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) admitted that it is hard to draw the line between curtailing the right to information and free speech and not tolerating those who abuse the media and internet to destroy the credibility and image of a person. Both pros and cons have point. But above all else, we should also recognize that it is also a human right to be protected from people who use the internet to advance their malicious intention, he said. The challenge Baylon said that not only celebrities, politicians and prominent personalities will be protected from their detractors but also normal citizens who will be subjects of demolition jobs through cyber bullying and online libel, among others, because of the new law. But Baylon urged the government to make certain that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10175 will clear the grey areas, which journalists, bloggers, social media users and netizens particularly oppose. The new anti-cybercrime law will be implemented starting October, while its IRR will be released 90 days from September 12, when the President signed it into law.

Going back to cyberlibel Granted that online users have reservations toward certain provisions, to them it is the cyberlibel clause that takes the cake. This image may have to speak for itself: Credit: Wrap-up Majority of the signatories from the Upper House are now pushing for a revision of the Act. Until this is done, the following offices have been authorized to: * Implement the said law the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police; and * Investigate criminal offenses against and ensure compliance to the said law the Department of Justice. Beneath the cyberlibel ruckus are the fears for this authority to be abused, and for legal interpretations to favor the few. But judging if these fears have merits may have to depend on what one knows and where one stands. Insights on the Act, its salient and speech freedom-related features, can be gleaned from this Philippine Daily Inquirer article by Atty. JJ Disini, University of the Philippines College of Law associate professor and technology law expert. Editorial A blow against free speech Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:09 am | Thursday, September 20th, 2012 Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook The new Cybercrime Prevention Act, signed into law by President Aquino on Sept. 12, takes the dangerously outmoded provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Codeand dumps them online. Without any legislative debate, without any public hearing, indeed with hardly anyone looking, these libel provisions have been unthinkingly extended to all online content. While the extension itself is only a small part of the new law, it now threatens every citizen who has access to a computer device with unconscionable restrictions on our hard-earned right to free speech. We believe the new provision is deeply, radically, unconstitutional. Coupled with the continuing inaction of the Aquino administration and its coalition allies in Congress on the long-sought, much-promised Freedom of Information Act, the new law makes us question the depth of the administrations commitment to free speech, a free press and the free exchange of information. It is possible that the Aquino administration and its partners in Congress were merely asleep at the switch, and did not realize the true implications of the extension. The sequence of events, as first pieced together by blogger and South China Morning Post correspondent Raissa Robles, certainly suggests that the introduction of the inserted passage, by Senate

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, was hurried and did not benefit from indepth discussion. The laws major sponsor, Sen. Edgardo Angara, merely acquiesced to Sottos proposal to extend the reach of the existing libel provisions to cyberspace. Whatever the case, the burden of responsibilityand it is a heavy one, with historical consequencesremains with the legislators who voted for the new law, and with the President who enacted it. The language of the extension seems innocuous enough. We find it under Chapter II, Punishable Acts, together with other Content-related Offenses, namely cybersex, child pornography and unsolicited commercial communications or spam. Under Section 4, subsection C, paragraph 4, we read: Libel.The 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. And thats it. Theres nothing else, no distinctions made, no qualifications offered. When we said unthinking, we meant our legislators did not think the matter through. The Revised Penal Code was enacted into law some 80 years ago. While the provisions on libel have since been amended, to include the broadcast media, the assumptions behind them remain very much bound both to the print format and to the Codes restrictive theories.

But the reality of online interaction, the networking that is made possible in cyberspace, is very different. There is certainly a need for greater responsibility in online conduct, to tame cyber-bullying, for instance, or to keep flaming wars from raging out of control. Dumping the Codes provisions online and then hoping it will all work out, however, is not the way to meet this need. Consider the following: When a newspaper reader e-mails a possibly libelous article to a friend, is that reader now liable for libel, too? The unthinking extension suggests that the answer is yes. When an online viewer tweets a link of a possibly libelous video to a friend, is that first viewer now liable for libel, too? The unthinking extension suggests that the answer is yes. When a friend likes or shares or comments on a possibly libelous post on Facebook, is that friend now liable for libel, too? The unthinking extension suggests that the answer is yes. When the subject of a possibly libelous article written by a city-based reporter reads it in online form in a remote area, can the subject file a case against the reporter in that place? The unthinking extension suggests that the answer, again, is yes. We note that, in the penalties section, no sanctions are imposed on cyberlibel. Did our legislators think that was enough of a safeguard? But the journalism professions sorry experience with libel law in the Philippines has never been about conviction; it has always been about prosecution. In other words, and even though libel suits are difficult to win because the presence of malice, a requirement of the law, is hard to prove, libel cases are filed against journalists anywaybecause these cases are a form of

harassment. They tie up a reporters time, they run up an editors legal fees, they discombobulate a newsroom. And now, courtesy of our legislators, the same form of harassment is available to torment those who produce online content. That means, literally, tens of millions of Filipinos, made vulnerable in one fell swoop. Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that the Philippine libel law, which penalizes those convicted with imprisonment, violates human rights protocols. All of a sudden, it now runs afoul of Internet protocols, too.

Not everyone is an expert on what constitutes libel. Imagine a mother like me, or teenagers and kids who love to rant. It really hits our freedoms, Dado told Agence France-Presse. While harsh criminal libel remains in force in other parts of Asia, Dado said the new law sent the wrong signal in a country that overthrew the military-backed Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship just 26 years ago. Dado, a lawyers wife known online as the momblogger, is among a group of critics campaigning for the libel element of the cybercrime law to be repealed. Bruce Adams, Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the law was having a chilling effect in the Philippines, which, with its population of almost 95 million, is one of the worlds biggest users of Facebook and Twitter. Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader including government officials bring a libel charge, Adams said. Five petitions claiming the law is unconstitutional have been filed with the Supreme Court. The petitions all say the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication. The lone opponent when the bill was voted on in the Senate, Senator Teofisto Guingona, filed one of the petitions. Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime even if you just re-tweet or comment on an online update or blog post, Guingona told the Supreme Court. The questioned provisions throw us back to the Dark Ages. The petitions all state that the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication. Law professor Harry Roque from the University of the Philippines, who filed another, said the country was one of a shrinking number worldwide where defamation remained a crime punishable by prison. He said the Philippines libel laws part of a penal code that was drawn up 82 years ago go against the trend in many advanced democracies, such as the United States and Britain, where defamation is now punished with fines rather than imprisonment. Amid the public backlash, a number of senators who voted for the Cybercrime Act have started to disassociate themselves from it, with some even saying they did not read the provision on libel. However presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has defended the law. The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace freedom of expression is always recognised but freedom of expression is not absolute, he told reporters on Thursday. Nevertheless, Lacierda said the law could yet be refined. He has called for critics to submit their concerns to a government panel that will issue by the end of the year specific definitions of the law, such as who may be prosecuted.

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Outrage over cybercrime law Agence France-Presse 1:13 pm | Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook MANILA, PhilippinesA new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people jailed for 12 years for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups. The stated aim of the wide-ranging law is to tackle a multiplicity of online crimes, including pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming, following police complaints that they lacked the legal tools to combat them. However, the act also includes a provision that puts the countrys criminal libel law into force in cyberspace but with far tougher penalties for Internet defamation than in traditional print media. Anyone posting a libellous comment online, be it on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else, faces a maximum prison sentence of 12 years and a fine of P1 million ($24,000). Meanwhile, newspaper editors and other trained professionals working in traditional media face prison terms of just four years and fines of P6,000 for defamation. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice/video applications, such as Skype, without a warrant. Prominent Manila blogger Noemi Dado, who edits a citizen media site called Blog Watch, said unwary teenagers retweeting or re-posting libellous material could find themselves facing the full force of the law.

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In the first round, at least two justices launched inquiries with disquieting implications. The questions they raised during the second round, however, together with those raised by other justices, suggest that the high court as a whole was bending over backward to think like the legislators who produced the law. As more than one of them said, they want to save the law as much as they can. But what, really, is there to save? Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza is on record as saying that one of the main and most controversial provisions, the so-called takedown clause that allows the Department of Justice to take down websites it deems problematic, is unconstitutional. And this is the part of the law that benefited from considerable preparation! Other unconstitutional provisions, such as the unthinking extension of the antiquated provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code to cyberspace and the alarming increase in the penalties for cyber-libel, were rushed, as even a cursory reading of the legislative journals will readily prove. Is it any surprise that the laws real-world consequences are so cavalier, so casually cruel? The Senates manifest lack of due diligence means, for example, that a person logged on to Facebook who Likes a possibly libelous post on that social networking site is also liable for cyber-libelan interpretation of the law with which Jardeleza himself agreed during the oral arguments. And if convicted, that person will be meted a penalty one degree higher than a person convicted of committing libel through the old-fashioned way. The rank unfairness of it all explains the widespread revulsion that met the law when President Aquino signed it in September. If the prospect of embarrassment did not move Congress, perhaps opportunity will. We hope the Supreme Court will give the members of the incoming Congress a chance to craft a much better law, by ruling that the cybercrime law is unconstitutional, and taking it down for good.

Editorial Unembarrassed Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:28 am | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook When the Supreme Court issued a four-month-long temporary restraining order against the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act last October, the unusual length of the TRO was widely interpreted as a deferential gesture. The high court wanted to spare Congress the embarrassment of a new law being declared unconstitutional, by giving it enough time to amend or revise the laws controversial provisions. That is certainly how the Inquirer saw it at the time. But we should have known better, because it has become obvious that escaping the specter of embarrassment does not rank high on Congress list of priorities. The lack of action on the part of Congress has forced the Supreme Courts hand. It conducted two lengthy rounds of oral arguments in the last three weeks, and on Tuesday, in the clearest sign that the cybercrime law is in trouble, it extended the TRO indefinitely. The temporary restraining order in the cybercrime case is extended until further orders from the court, the tribunals information office announced through a text message. We join the many who welcome the extension of the TRO; we realize, together with other free speech advocates and critics of sweeping government powers online, that until the patently unconstitutional law is struck down, we cannot rest or take victory for granted. But we do recognize that the indefinite extension of the restraining order has already had an immediate impact. None of the laws provisions, including the absurd and unthinking application of antiquated libel laws to online content, can be used to harass online users. The so-called chilling effect on online speech and Internet user habits remains a potential, not an actual, threat. (Still, in a ruling dated Dec. 28, 2012, the Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Marikina Regional Trial Court to proceed with a libel case and the issuance of arrest warrants on a minor and five other persons for supposed defamatory posts on a social networking site.) Extrapolating court rulings from oral arguments is always a tricky undertaking. It is possible to view the justices demeanor during the oral arguments on the cybercrime law, however, as a kind of role-playing conducted in public; they wanted to place themselves in the lawmakers shoes.

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