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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid