Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cybercrime Act Forum


Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III on Thursday filed a petition before the Supreme Court that seeks to void questionable provisions in the Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 that infringe on the Constitutional-guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.

Sen. Guingona made the petition to correct the overly vague and oppressive provisions on libel, which makes a fatal step backwards.

He opposed the passage of the bill in the Senate but was outvoted. Now, he is pushing to strike the contested provisions in the newly-enacted law through the Supreme Court.

However, the Senator clarified that a cybercrime prevention act is necessary in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the recently-passed law contains confusing and vague provisions that suppresses the citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression.

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Sen. Guingona pinpointed that he is contesting the particular law, first due to its vagueness where there is no limitations against liability,” he said.
“Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually, any person can now be charged with a crime –even if you just like, retweet or comment on an online update or blog post containing criticisms.

Second, Sen. Guingona added that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is unfair because cyber-libel gets graver punishment. It also demonizes technology and sends the message that the computer user is more evil than those who write on traditional media.

Punishment for traditional print media libel is up to four years and two months while online libel is punishable by 12-year imprisonment period.

Third, Sen. Guingona said that this new law is oppressive. A person can be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code and libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. This is contrary to the 1987 Constitution which protects its people against double jeopardy.

He encourages the online community to join in the protest in order for their voices to be heard against the new oppressive law.

INFORM YOURSELVES! These are the possibilities that can happen with the current Cybercrime Act. For just sharing or retweeting something online that contains criticisms - you can get jailed for 12 YEARS.

Let me just point out that we need a Cybercrime Prevention Act. However, the inclusion of these problematic provisions on cyber-libel will just curtail a fundamental principle of good governance: CITIZEN PARTICIPATION.

The last time I checked, we were still a democracy—we want empowered citizens, not scared and passive ones.

*For those asking, I was outnumbered in the Senate vote to pass this law. The vote was 13-1.  

- Sen. TG Guingona

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