Can you smell that? That, our dear friends, is the new Anti-Cybercrime Law that was just signed a few days ago by President Noynoy Aquino.
You know what else tingles our senses? The fact that, because of this new law, we now have a concrete legal backing that should serve some real-life justice to the baddies of the virtual world. You know, those pesky hackers, scammers, and the others like 'em who ply their illegal trade through the confines of the Internet.
But what really is the Anti-Cybercrime Law of the Philippines? From its name alone you'll know it's a sort of godsend weapon against cybercrime, but what we're interested in is the nitty gritty, the whos, hows, whats, and whys. Here we give you the low-down of what's up in this new legal instrument that's creating a buzz in the local cybersphere and giving cybercriminals the jitters. Read on.
What is the Anti-Cybercrime Law?
The Anti-Cybercrime Law of the Philippines (also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175) is a newly-signed act that gives us a true legal tool to combat cybercrime. A better definition is given by a press release from the Senate, a part of which saysm, "The Cybercrime Prevention Act lays down a comprehensive legal framework for the detection, investigation, and suppression of cybercrimes..."
Who is its author?
It goes without saying that this one has its own share of supporters who drove it to fruition, but the main author is Senator Edgardo J. Angara. He has worked hard for it to be a bonafide law and for that, we sincerely thank him. Salamat, sir!
Why come up with it in the first place?
To combat cybercrime, but that's a no-brainer. Another no-brainer is that our legal framework is almost toothless when it comes to fighting cybercriminals because we don't have that one law to teach them a lesson.
Certain laws like RA 9995 (Anti-Photo and Voyeurism Act of 2009) and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009) have been used to combat certain forms of cybercrime. But the fact remains that we are left wanting for something more solid, more updated. With the arrival of the Anti-Cybercrime Law of the Philippines, things will hopefully change for the better. And with the way the tech has been evolving, it's about freakin' time!
So, who should be afraid?
Those who are guilty of hacking, identity theft, illegal access, spamming, cyber-squatting, cybersex, online libel, and online child pornography. Whew! For those planning to engage in these kinds of activities, the local laws' crosshairs are on you. You've been warned.
What are the punishments?
Depending on the cybercrime committed, offenders will be given a fine of anywhere between P50,000 to a whopping P1,000,000 or even more, and a prison term of a mere one month up to 12 years, or both. Matakot na kayo!
Yes there is. Although our own version of an anti-cybercrime law was widely greeted with applause, there's still a bit of opposition. Some are saying the provisions are vague and that it can be used to violate freedom of expression online. One of the biggest voices against it is from Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino. He used no other than the still hot issue of Tito Sen's plagiarism issue for his argument, saying, “...politicians can easily file charges against ‘hostile and combative’ critics and witnesses by claiming that virtual protesters have threatened their life and property.”
By critics he means potentially anyone who has the balls to put their scathing two-cents' worth in a certain issue involving a political leader. To put that into perspective, that could be you, dear reader.
Another part of the law that's not so tasty to certain groups delves on so-called warantless shutdowns of online properties. That section says that “when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data.” Some are saying this is very vague and possibly gives the DOJ (Department of Justice) undue power to take down websites and blogs in light of evidence, which can be faked, putting anyone who uses a computer in danger of being framed.
What we say
We welcome the fact that we've now updated, through this new law, our legal weaponry against cybercrime. After all, it sucks to be stuck with outdated laws na panahon pa ni kopong-kopong in an increasingly more techie time, right? Although we also wish everything has been thoroughly thought out in the law. We don't want it to be used to wreak havoc on our online freedom of speech and be something like the SOPA (that infamous bill in the US that gives certain people/companies authority over the Internet). But only time will tell if this will really work.
Click here for the Senate's press release
Click here to read the full version of the law