Cybercrime Act: Features and issues
By JJ Disini
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:49 pm | Saturday, October 6th, 2012
NETIZENS, bloggers and journalists hold a rally outside the Supreme Court to protest Republic Act No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act. RAFFY LERMA Recently, the President signed into law two key pieces of legislation—the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Act, both of which were meant to assist the development of the business process outsourcing industry in the country. As late as last year, the Philippines reigned as the country with the biggest number of seats in the call center industry, as the BPO industry grew in terms of total revenue, foreign exchange inflow and employment generation. BPO lobby
It is believed that the BPO industry needs the Cybercrime Act (the “Act”) to respond to the demands of foreign clients for a strong legal environment that can secure their data from being stolen and sold. As early as 2000, the E-Commerce Act (ECA) already punished hacking but the penalties were deemed too light. The persons convicted served no jail time if they opted to plead guilty in exchange for probation in lieu of imprisonment. Law enforcement agencies also faced various roadblocks when investigating cybercrime incidents. Even during emergency situations, service providers were reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement officers, citing the need to protect subscriber privacy. Theoretically, search warrants would have addressed that problem but they were difficult to procure and involved a lengthy process that would have given cybercrime offenders enough time to delete precious data and cover their tracks. In cross-border cybercrime incidents, law enforcement efforts were even more challenging since foreign governments were not equipped to respond quickly to requests for assistance and no international framework was in place to address cross-border investigations and prosecution. To be sure, no one in government was asleep at the wheel. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), blessed with foreign-funded training in computer forensics and cybercrime investigation techniques, proceeded to organize and staff their cybercrime units. These were the two agencies that were very active in cybercrime investigation since the passage of the ECA.
Meanwhile, in the realm of international cooperation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially endorsed the Philippines’ accession to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention. The treaty was fast becoming the vehicle to harmonize cybercrime definitions and promoted international cooperation in cybercrime enforcement and investigation. After all, the Budapest Convention was signed by many countries in Europe and even counted non-EU countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, China and South Africa as among its member-states. It was against this backdrop that various cybercrime bills were deliberated upon, in both houses of Congress. Earlier attempts to enact the law failed and it would take Congress more than 10 years to pass the Cybercrime Act. Salient features
The salient features of the Act include internationally consistent definitions for certain cybercrimes, nuanced liability for perpetrators of cybercrimes, increased penalties, greater authority granted to law enforcement authorities, expansive jurisdictional authority to prosecute cybercrimes, provisions for international cybercrime coordination efforts and greater ability to combat cybercrimes. Indeed, many of the cybercrimes defined under the Act hewed closely to the Budapest Convention and it borrowed heavily from the convention’s definition of illegal access and interception, data and system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery and computer-related fraud. Attempts now punishable
Under the ECA, cybercrimes can be...
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