News / Asia

    Cybercrime Law in Philippines Draws Protests

    Filipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, October 3, 2012.
    Filipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, October 3, 2012.
    Simone Orendain
    The Philippines’ new cybercrime law took effect Wednesday amid strong criticism from Internet users, journalists and government officials. 

    At least seven groups have filed petitions with the Supreme Court calling several sections of the Cybercrime Prevention Act unconstitutional. They say it infringes on their right to free speech and is especially vague when it comes to libel.

    The law targets identity theft, hacking and child pornography among other offenses. But critics say its ambiguity makes it vulnerable to abuse.
     
    Under the law, anything considered libelous and posted online comes with a possible prison sentence of up to 12 years. This more than doubles the punishment for the same offense carried out on paper.

    Teofisto Guingona was the lone senator among the country’s 24 who opposed the passage of the bill into law. He has a petition pending in the high court. He said users of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are vulnerable. 

    “Who can be liable?... What if you Tweet are you liable?  What if you re-Tweet are you liable?  What if you share, what if you ‘Like’ as in Facebook, are you liable?” he says.

    Guingona also takes issue with how the offenses will be prosecuted by a new office in the Department of Justice - without court oversight.

    “So there is a clear violation of the constitution and taken as a whole, really… the effect is to scare people,” said Guingona.

    The law gives the Secretary of Justice powers to block or restrict access to Internet data that she determines violates the law.  
     
    But in an interview Wednesday with a local radio news station, Secretary Leila De Lima questioned the need for some parts of the law. She said the inclusion of cyber libel is not necessary because there is already a criminal libel law under the country’s penal code.

    Like many countries, the Philippines has struggled to crack down on internet crimes using its current legal code.
     
    Attorney Harry Roque says the new law goes too far and opens the door to what he called “libel tourism.”

    “You sue in any jurisdiction where the electronic article appeared knowing that it will be very difficult for the defendant to defend because it’s so far and so expensive a process,” says Roque.

    In a statement Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government recognizes and respects efforts “not only to raise these issues in court but to propose amendments to the law in accordance with constitutional processes.”  But he said the country needs this law.

    “The policy is very clear," he said. "We have no legal framework on addressing cybercrimes, specifically in areas such as cybersex… cyber-fraud…”

    For the past two weeks, activists have hacked about 10 government websites to protest the new law.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora