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The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that would require authorities to investigate and prosecute individuals for Internet-related crimes such as fraud, hacking, and cybersex.
Voting 13-1, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2796 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. SB 2796 was authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Edgardo Angara, Lito Lapid, Manuel Villar, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III voted against the approval of the bill.
Under SB 2796, cybercrime offenses would include:
A. Offenses against the confidentiality, intergrity and availability of computer data and systems (illegal access, illegal interception, data interence, system interference, cyber-squatting, misuse of devices)
B. Computer-related offenses (computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud)
C. Content-related offenses (cybersex, child pornography, unsolicited commercial communications, libel)
Under the measure, any person found guilty of the acts in A and B shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor (imprisonment from six to 12 years) or a fine of at least P200,000 or an amount depending on the damage caused or both depending on the court.
On the other hand, any person found guilty of cyber-squatting shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor or a fine of not more than P500,000 (or both); any person found guilty of unsolicited commercial communication with arresto mayor (imprisonment from one month to six months) or a fine of at least P50,000 but not more than P250,000 (or both); and any person found guilty of cybersex with imprisonment of prision mayor or a fine of at least P200,000 but not more than P1 million (or both).
Meanwhile, any person found guilty of child pornography shall be punished according to Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.
Those who aid in the commission of any of the acts listed shall likewise be punished with imprisonment one degree lower than that of the main perpetrator of the offense or a penalty of at least P100,000 but not more than P500,000, or both depending on the court. Legislated morality?
During Monday's Senate session, Guingona said he is voting against the measure because of the provision in the bill defining cybersex.
Under the measure, cybersex is defined as "the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, or any lascivious exhbition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration."
"It legislates morality, it tells you what is moral and what is immoral. As a libertarian I feel that is not within the realm of the legislature. No one has the right to say what is moral and what is immoral," said Guingona.
"I vote against this because it has a prior restraint on freedom of expression, freedom of speech. This is unconstitutional," he added.
SB 2796 also mandates the creation of an Office of Cybercrime under the Department of Justice.
A National Cybersecurity Coordinating Council shall also be established under the Office of the President for the creation and execution a national cybersecurity plan.
The Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology shall likewise create a National Cyber Security Center to help in the formulation and implementation of a national cybersecurity policy. — RSJ, GMA News