Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed by the president last September 12, 2012.  It was implemented on October 03, 2012.  The main purpose of the law is to address legal issues concerning online interaction.   I am not a lawyer nor a law student but  let me tell you what I think about this law.   I am totally against this law.  As a person, I think it’s my basic right to have the freedom of speech. And with this law I think it imposes limitations on my rights to express myself (esp. online).  Some people say that those who are OVERACTING about this law are scared coz’ they are LIBELOUS people.  I also have an FB friend (friend 1) who said that if you are a libelous person then you should be afraid of this law. If not, then there’s nothing to be afraid of.    I beg to disagree.   The law is not just about being libelous.  This is about how the law will affect our lives and how the law will be implemented.  I don’t wanna be imprisoned simply because I clicked the LIKE button in FB.  Or I don’t wanna be tagged as a criminal just because I posted on FB that a politician is not doing his/her job right.

Dee, a friend of mine answered the post of Friend 1 in FB (btw, she’s a lawyer).  Let me quote her: “Because unlike the revised penal code that punishes non-cyber libel, you actually get due process. Under RA 10175, you can be prosecuted based only on a prima facie (face value) evidence of violation of the law upon DOJ Sec’s order, without the necessity of a search and seizure warrant (SSW) from the court, which SSW under our Constitution is a guaranteed right. Why is this scary? A number of people make their living online. If the DOJ Sec determines that there is a violation, the site one maintains can be shut down and even the computer can be seized. No parameters are provided what constitutes “prima facie violation” of the law. It’s a very low standard. If one secures a SSW, there must probable cause before the same can be issued by the court. More than that, the government, to enforce the law will monitor online activities.

It is not act of criminalizing cyber libel that is in question. It is clear, whether online or in the real world, no one is entitled to malign another. What is contentious is the imposition of a higher penalty for cyber libel which effectively disqualifies the accused from applying for parole, and the other is the so-called “takedown clause” which empowers the DOJ Sec to issue orders to block access to the data. Should you be found to have violated RA 10175 based on prima facie evidence and your access to whatever data is blocked, where would you turn to?

As of earler today October 8, 2012 there have been 13 petitions already filed in the Supreme Court questioning the cybercrime law.  Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago also believes that the new law is unconstitutional.  The Senator posted on her website www.miriam.com.ph an article about how the RA 10175 becomes unconstitutional.   On the last part of her article, let me quote her

“For these reasons, I humbly predict that the Supreme Court will strike down the Cybercrime Act as unconstitutional.  Otherwise, it will be a black, black day for freedom of speech.”

If you want to read or obtain a copy of RA 10175 please visit Ph’s Official Gazette.

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