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Your Say: Online reactions to the Anti-Cybercrime Law

September 21, 2012 7:25pm
GMA News Online has a lively community of commenters. Your Say is where we feature thought-provoking opinions from the community to help further discussions on issues that affect the common Pinoy. 
A new law is set to go after Internet outlaws, but many an average Pinoy netizen is squirming at the last-minute inclusion of a provision on online libel.
President Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 12 signed into law Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which lists hacking, identity theft, child pornography, and online libel —among others— as punishable acts.
The provision on online libel is being criticized by stakeholders such as journalists and netizens as a broad and catch-all category that goes against the spirit of democracy. Engaged social media users and bloggers are decrying the clause as censorship against free speech, a civil right commonly exercised in the online space.
At least one lawmaker, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, has also criticized the bill as a threat to Internet freedom. Palatino said that the clause on online libel is "a step backward in our long-term aim of decriminalizing libel.” He added that complaints of online libel will distract law enforcers from stopping the more serious crimes of cyberporn, hacking, and credit card fraud.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte admitted that online libel will be subject to debate among lawyers. “We will leave it to the other lawyers to determine ang aktong napapasailalim sa libel na sinasabi nila (We will leave it to the other lawyers to determine what constitutes online libel),” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
For the enactment of Republic Act 10175, the government has formed an inter-agency Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President. It will be composed of the executive director of the ICT Office under the Department of Science and Technology as chairman; the director of the National Bureau of Investigation as vice-chairman; and the Chief of the Philippine National Police and heads of the DOJ Office of Cybercrime and one representative from the private sector and academe as members.
Among the punishable acts as enumerated in Chapter II are:
  • Illegal access to a computer system
  • Illegal interception of data
  • Data interference, including intentional alteration or damaging of data
  • System interference, including damaging or altering computer data or programs as well as the use of viruses
  • Misuse of devices
  • Use, production, sale, procurement, importation, distribution or making available without right of malware, passwords or codes
  • Cybersquatting
  • Computer-related forgery
  • Computer-related fraud
  • Computer-related identity theft
  • Cybersex
  • Child pornography
  • Unsolicited commercial communication
An annual budget of 50 million will be allocated for the Anti-Cybercrime Law's implementation.
Here are just some reactions from the active community of GMA News Online:
RICKITO thinks the government does not have enough resources to implement Republic Act 10175 effectively:
I dont really have a problem with Pnoy,my biggest issue is with senators,congresspeople,and presidents who are relatives,sons or daughters of other goverment officials.Too much family politics and sense of entitlement in the philippines.There are many aspects I like with this law and is long overdue.However,the police need address real crimes that is happening everywhere in all provinces starting with corruption even at the local tranfer ownership of a car level.The goverment does not even have the recources to combat this at a proficient level.It takes all day sometimes even 2 days to do what it takes 10 minutes in canada,unless you bribe of course.

csevilleja opines that the spirit of the Cybercrime bill differs from its US counterpart in a specific and very important way:
no... I don't think this law is the same in US and Other countries. I was in US from 2003-2011. Its not the same.
This US law, while securing and regulating the use of internet, still protects it's constittion and its Citizens rights and freedom.
This one on the other hand seems like a control over the internet. It is not far, that Filipinos will start condemming this new law. I don't see anything about protecting our(Filipinos) constitutional rights and freedom except for few. I don't think Filipinos will like most of this new law. It will be very interestiing to see how this new law will unfold and affect filipinos with their rights of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and other things related to this.
on the other hand, we all know who already violated this new law in the public and national level. Plagarize anyone?

mu ning thinks the Philippines has become more similar to China, in terms of restricted Internet access:
Parang nasa communist country na tayo gaya ng China. Buti pa i-embrace na natin ang communism kung ganun. 
Adymarty countered mu ning by pointing out that there are technical ways to bypass these restrictions:
nasa china ako ngayon kahit me firewal sila nakakalusot ako sa vpn. naka yuotube and face book ako.
chris and I_love_mypilipinas are both of the opinion that passing a law on cybercrime should not have been high in the list of priorities of the administration:
how about strengthening real criminal laws? kung saan kakatakutan ng mga holdaper, magnanakaw sa gobyerno, mamatay tao, skalawag na pulis etc?? kelangan ba natin talaga ito? or kakayanin ba natin ito? umiral na naman kayabangan natin na sasabay sa cyber laws ng western simpleng krimen na halos mag iwan na ng resume ang mga masasamang elemento sa lugar ng krimen eh hindi pa masolve ng kapulisan, ganyang cyber laws pa tututukan nila?? 
hey this new law came suddenly out of nowhere. The only thing i find relevant here is fighting child pornography. But wait a minute, there's already an existing law against child porn. Whatcha gonna do with 50 million? thats a lot of cold cash to pay hackers track down other hackers. Wish the lawmakers would give a bit more attention to existing laws like those against inhumane treatment to animals, so that the rest of the world would somehow see filipinos as less barbaric. Or whatever happened to that law they're trying to pass to put more bicycle lanes in the Philippines?
Solidad suspects that the government's annual budget of P50 million may not enough for the law's implementation:
Well that's to be expected. By misuse, I would guess using equipment (i.e DSL Modems, canopy receivers, cable box etc ... ) to be modified to bypass the service security and copy protection, or modding them above it service capacity. This would be a problem, since modding is considered misuse of a device.
But even so, with a mere 50M budget, there's little these law can do in this country. It will only go to benefit more into politicians. The government can't be proactive with this and there's another layer of bureaucracy, which further assures people that you are not affected by the changes.
Jeff wonders how Filipino authorities are going to run after spammers who may be operating outside of the country:
HAHAHA,,,..papano kaya nila paparusahan an mga SPAMMERS....sige nga pakita nyo sa amin kung papano nyo huhulihin an mga spammers from RUSSIA/BOLIVIA/China...atc..etc...etc..SPAMMErs send millions of spammed (unsolicited) emails every specially in the public MAIL..or even in the private domain/email system....papano kaya hahabulin ng BATAS na ito kung marami mag ko complaint...
aliping_saguiguilid thinks the clause on online libel is a suppression of freedom in social media:
Just when the silent majority finally have a tool to express their concerns through social media, this new law will suppress their freedom of expression in the internet. I will not be suprised that social media will be filtered or banned in the near future due to sensitive issues.
However, Karen Sambuca disagrees, with a point of clarification on the definition of libel:

Why?  Libel is defined as a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.  Unless the silent majority posts false statements, they will be in safe territory.  

I can still post about the EPAL politicians as long as my posts are truthful.
pilipino distinguishes between criticism and libel:
This Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino does not seem to have a clear distinction between criticism and libel done online.
CRITICISM is about evaluating, analyzing and judging one's word, deed, or way of living often with disapproval while LIBEL is about making injurious or defamatory statements, accusations or representations that are based on falsehoods, imagined reality or unfounded assumptions or guesses that are intended to damage the reputation of the target person.
But I don't really believe that this Congressman is not honorable enough to understand the meaning of these two words although this is just an assumption. Could it be that this young Congressman is probably guilty of online libel as defined?
Jeff says that the Cybercrime Act, rather than a protective mechanism, is a limiting one
This LAW does not protect FILIPINO people from the intruders/cybercriminals but limiting FILIPINO people in the internet world. 
taga8visaysa  think that the necessary tools for catching cybercriminals must have come first before the law on cybercrime:
Yeah right! our government is lacking of mechanism to pursue cybercrime, they are so many smart hackers and programmer that is so hard to detect where it came from.  Before passing the law first they have to approve in the congress new employees and new facilities to create another government department to do this kind of job. Other countries they create the cybercrime department first then the law. Baliktad ang utak ng nasa politiko satin, anong saysay nyang law kung wala naman tayong kagamitan.
PuebloErrante thinks that the libel provision offers itself to interpretation, and therefore to be bent to serve particular ends:  
Nobody disputes the necessity to fight online crimes but the libel provision they deviously attached just reeks of online censorship and violation of freedom of speech. The government sees the internet and online social networks as a threat to their Corporate Controlled Mass Media's capability to sway public opinion in matters of great national importance.
Hence, anyone's "opinion" on such matters could suddenly fall prey to the tyranny of semantics (as interpreted by the-powers-that-be), wasting precious time and money on court disputes instead of being able to tackle matters of grave importance in hand.
Elitist critics would just shout "Noobs, lol. Great critics won't fall for such crepe", but then they condemn themselves to the ranks of the minority, leaving a sizable chunk of their would-be supporters at the mercy of those who wish to silence them. Hence, unable to mount enough numbers to pose as a threat against corruption among our highest authorities.
It's so blatantly obvious that they're trying to divide and conquer, yet we are falling into their trap almost too beautifully while they wrap this poison under the guise of moral ascendancy. 
What's your say? — TJD, GMA News

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