The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, signed by President Benigno Aquino III on Sep. 12, aims to fight online pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming following local law enforcement agencies' complaints over the lack of legal tools to combat cybercrime.
However, the law came with tougher legal penalties for Internet defamation, compared to traditional media. It also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice and video applications such as Skype, without a warrant. Users who post defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter, for example, could be sentenced to up 12 years in jail.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, also known as Republic Act 10175, may aim to bring crime-fighting into the 21st century by addressing harmful acts committed with the use of the worldwide web but it raises the risk of rights violations and curtailment of freedom of expression and of the press by expanding the concept of the criminalized act of libel. The law also raises the penal sentence for libel committed in cyberspace one year longer than that imposed in the Revise Penal Code for libel in general.
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.
It is highly advisable that the imperfections in the law, the provisions that conflict with other aspects of good governance and national and international obligations, be corrected soon through amendments. Strong leadership does not shirk from acknowledging the need to revise and strengthen policy and law. The calls for amendment should not be seen as personal attacks on anyone’s... [continues]
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