Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Republic Act No. 10175 | The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 goes in effect today.

Republic Act No. 10175, which was signed in to law by the President of the Philippines last September 12, aims to define computer crimes and provide for the prevention, investigation, suppression and the imposition of penalties of such crimes. Some of the offenses listed on the bill include child pornography, identify theft, cybersquatting, cybersex, internet fraud and libel.

I believe there is a need for a law like RA 10175. I won’t disagree on the laws against hacking, identity theft and internet fraud—much more on the provision against child pornography—these laws against such offenses are needed and are long overdue.

I also believe there is a need to protect people from malice online. People get bullied and are called names online by cowards who hide behind a fake account or to some extent by people who are downright rude and shameless.

One of the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the provision on online libel. The act defines online libel as 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. Basically, it is libel done using computers and the future generations of computers and similar devices. Sadly, the provision on online libel is not clearly defined.

A harmless tweet like a witty name calling between friends can be considered libelous. Basically, anything that one finds offensive is libelous—jokes can be outlawed. It doesn’t say when online libel is committed. Does it only cover those potentially malicious things that one posted online after the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 took effect? Or is it before and after the law’s implementation? Can a seemingly malicious tweet from two years ago—undeleted and buried to the bottom of one’s tweet stream—be used against the poster?

Also included in the RA 10175the law's section that I disdainis the act’s provision on cybersex. What with sending sexually explicit messages or dropping one’s clothes in front of a live camera, one can go to jail. I am no perv but this is unacceptable. There is nothing wrong with internet sex as long as it is done by two consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes and computers.

Another thing, how is the government going to stop the people from doing online sex? For one to be sent to jail one has to be caught doing the act. How are they going to catch one in the act? Monitor our PCs? Monitor our data? Where is the privacy in that? Where is the constitutional right to privacy?

Lastly, section 5 of the RA 10175 lists Aiding and Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. When is aiding and abetting committed? Does aiding and abetting include sharing, reblogging, retweeting, liking and +1-ing a libelous or a seemingly libelous post?

Let me repeat what I said, I believe there is a need for a law like RA 10175. Sadly, The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was done in haste and is greatly flawed. I believe that some of the  provisions of the law clashes with the constitutional right to privacy, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The law needs to be repealed ASAP.

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