Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
The Republic Act No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, is an act that defines and punishes cybercrime to prevent and suppress its proliferation. It aims to effectively prevent and combat misuse, abuse and illegal access of the Internet by facilitating their detection, investigation, arrest and prosecution at both the domestic and international levels, and by providing arrangements for fast and reliable international cooperation. To formulate and implement a national cyber security plan, a Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) will be created under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President.
This Act is authored by Reps. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), Eric Owen Singson, Jr. (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Marcelino Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City) and Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora). Other authors of the bill are Reps. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Diosdado Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Carmelo Lazatin (1st District, Pampanga), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), Mariano Michael Velarde and Irwin Tieng (Party-list, BUHAY), Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon), Anthony Rolando Golez (Lone District, Bacolod City), Juan Miguel Macapagal-Arroyo (Party-list, Ang Galing Pinoy), Ma. Amelita Calimbas-Villarosa (Lone District, Occidental Mindoro), Antonio Del Rosario (1st District, Capiz), Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Eulogio Magsaysay (Party-list, AVE), Sigfrido Tinga (2nd District, Taguig City), Roilo Golez (2nd District, Parañaque City), Romero Federico Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City), Mel Senen Sarmiento (1st District, Western Samar), Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), Daryl Grace Abayon (Party-list, Aangat Tayo), Tomas Apacible (1st District, Batangas), Jerry Treñas (Lone District, Iloilo City), Joseph Gilbert Violago (2nd District, Nueva Ecija), Hermilando Mandanas (2nd District, Batangas), Ma. Rachel Arenas (3rd District, Pangasinan) and Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan).
Offenses punishable under Cybercrime Prevention Act are:
- Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems
- Illegal access to the whole or any part of a computer system without rights
- Illegal interception of any non-public transmission of computer data to, from, or within a computer system
- Data interference such as alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of data without rights, including the introduction or transmission of viruses
- System (computer or computer network) interference
- Cyber-squatting or the acquisition of a domain name over the Internet in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy reputation, and deprive others from registering the same
- Misuse of devices
- Computer-related offenses
- Computer-related forgery (input, alteration, or deletion of data) without rights resulting in inauthentic data, with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic
- Computer-related fraud (input, alteration, or deletion of data or interference in the functioning of a computer system) causing damage
- Computer-related identity theft or the acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of the identifying information of another person
- Content-related offenses
- Cybersex or the engagement, maintenance, control, or operation of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system
- Child pornography or the unlawful acts as defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 committed through a computer system
- Unsolicited commercial communications which seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale products and services
- Libel or unlawful acts as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code
- Aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime
- Attempt in the commission of cybercrime
- Any person found guilty of committing cybercrime acts enumerated in the first two groups shall be punished with prision mayor, or serving of six years and one day to twelve12 years in prison, or a fine of at least PHP 200,000 up to PHP 500,000.
- A person found guilty of committing punishable acts enumerated in the first group shall be punished with reclusion temporal, or serving of 12 years and one day to 20 years in prison, or a fine of at least PHP 500,000 up to the maximum amount in proportion to the damage incurred, or both.
- A person found guilty of committing cybersex shall be punished with prision mayor, or serving of six years and one day to 12 years in prison, or a fine of at least PHP 200,000 but not exceeding PHP 1,000,000, or both.
- A person found guilty of committing child pornography shall be punished with the penalties enumerated in the Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.
- A person found guilty of committing unsolicited commercial communications shall be punished with arresto mayor, or serving of one month and one day to six months, or a fine of at least PHP 50,000 but not exceeding PHP 250,000, or both.
- A person found guilty of committing other offenses enumerated in the last group shall be punished with imprisonment one degree lower than that of the prescribed penalty for the offense, or a fine of at least PHP 100,000 but not exceeding PHP 500,000, or both.
- If any of these offenses are knowingly committed by a natural person on behalf of or for the benefit of a juridical person, the latter shall be held liable for fines enumerated above up to a maximum of PHP 10,000,000.
- If, for the benefit of the juridical person, the offense was made possible because of a natural person's failure to supervise or control, the former shall be held liable for fines enumerated above up to a maximum of PHP 5,000,000.
Enforcement and implementation
- Law enforcement authorities, such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall be responsible for the implementation of the provisions of this Act.
- The Department of Justice (DOJ) shall be responsible for assisting in investigations or proceedings concerning criminal offenses related to computer systems or data, in collection of electronic evidence of criminal offense, and in ensuring that the provisions of the law are complied with.
Media groups and netizens
Media groups and netizens said that the new Act allegedly threatens the freedom of speech and expression. In a statement by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, the group said that the inclusion of libel in the Act poses a threat to anyone who has access to a computer and the Internet. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) also warned the public to be alert and be prepared to refute this provision.
GMA News Online's Your Say posted online reactions to the Anti-Cybercrime Law from a lively community of commenters. Commenter csevilleja said that the Act differs form its US counterpart since the US law still protects its constitution and its citizens' rights and freedom. mu ning even said that the Philippines has become similar to China in terms of Internet access restrictions.
Adymarty and Solidad, however, said that there are technical ways to bypass the restrictions. Jeff wondered how authorities can run after offenders who may be operating outside the country. Meanwhile, taga8visaysa said that before passing the Act, the government should first have a department with complete tools and equipment that will help facilitate in pursuing cybercrime .
Chris and I_love_mypilipinas said that instead of passing a law on cybercrime, the government should have strengthened real criminal laws. I_love_mypilipinas even said that the only relevant point in the Act is the provision for fighting child pornography, though there is already an existing law against it.
Although Senator Guingona said that the Philippines needs a Cybercrime Prevention Act, he is against the cyber-libel provisions stated in it, as he finds it vague, unfair and oppressive. According to him, there is no clear definition of libel, and the persons liable (i.e., virtually any person, even just by tweeting or sharing posts or updates that contain criticisms) can be charged with a crime. He also added that online libel is punishable by a 12-year imprisonment period, whereas libel committed through traditional print media is punishable by only up to four years and two months of imprisonment. A person may also be charged with two counts of libel: libel under the Revised Penal Code and libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. Guingona stated that this is double jeopardy, but that the 1987 Constitution protects citizens from this.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon said that he wants to give the anti-cybercrime law a chance. He said that everyone should recognize a person's right “to be to be protected from people who use the Internet to advance their malicious intention”. However, he urged the government to clarify the gray areas of the Act and to address the concerns of media groups and netizens. In the end, he reminded everyone to “Think before you click.”
Philippine government websites hacked
On 26 September 2012, in protest to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, individuals who claim to be part of Anonymous Philippines hacked several government and civil society websites. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region III, Smokefree Philippines of the Department of Health, Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (Amcham) and Institute for Development and Ecometric Analysis (IDEA) were hacked.
The hackers who identified themselves as “busabos”, “Anonymous Butuan”, “PrivateX”, “#pR.is0n3r”, “Lo0p th3 Lo0p”, “l4stl00k”, “Blackrain”, and “Anonymous Manila” posted a statement that calls for the revision of some of the sections of the said Act.
In the statement they posted on the BSP website, the hackers said that the new law “effectively ends the Freedom of Expression in the Philippines” since “some part of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other comment-spaces of other social media in the Internet”. They added that “new technologies give us new opportunities to connect with a lot of people not only in this country but all over the world. They can also provide us with a medium through which our political, public and even private views can have an immediate and direct impact on individuals, communities and even countries”.
The song “Freedom” by Rage Against the Machine was also loaded as background music to the hacked websites.
Full control of the BSP website was regained early morning of Thursday, 27 September.
Cybercrime body will protect freedom of speech
The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) assured that the basic rights, especially the freedom of speech, would not be infringed under the Cybercrime Act. CICC chair Engineer Louis Casambre said that they understand the concerns of netizens and that they will address those when they start drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Act. The group will officially meet on the first week of October 2012.
SC issues TRO vs Cybercrime Act
On 9 October 2012, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a temporary restraining order on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 effective for 120 days. The verdict came on the same day that the Department of Justice (DOJ) started consulting with various sectors to clarify the details of the law.
Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court, asking to strike down several provisions of the Act particularly those on online libel, the DOJ's authority to block websites without court review, and monitoring of electronic data without warrant.
SC rules online libel constitutional
On 18 February 2014, SC upheld the constitutionality of almost all provisions of the Cybercrime law, including the provision that penalizes online libel. The high court clarified that original authors of potentially libelous posts can be sued, not those who received, reposted, or who reacted to it.
SC also declared constitutional the criminalization of the aiding and abetting of the commission of cybercrime. Provisions which were struck down as unconstitutional were the provision that empowers DOJ to restrict or block access to websites and online profiles that are deemed violating the law; provisions on unsolicited commercial communications and real-time collection of traffic data; and the liability of a cyber criminal under other laws but only in the cases of online libel and child pornography, citing a person's guarantee against double jeopardy. Libel is punishable by Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, while child pornography is punishable by Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act.
Critics of the said law had particularly called for the scrapping of internet libel as it tramples on the basic freedom of speech. Kabataan party-list said that the entire law should have been declared unconstitutional. Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon said in a report that they wanted to start from scratch to deliberate on a new cybercrime law without the unconstitutional provisions.
SC Spokesperson Theodore Te explained that with the high court’s decision, the TRO on the law is automatically lifted.
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