Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime body vows to protect freedom of speech

Date: September 24, 2012

MANILA -- An inter-agency body assured that basic rights like freedom of speech would not be infringed under the Cybercrime Law, which is criticized for its alleged threats on Internet communication.

President Benigno Aquino III signed into law on September 12 a measure that punishes offenses such as those against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data system, illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, and misuse of devices.

The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) allayed concerns on the controversial provisions of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 following reactions from different sectors on the inclusion of libel among the cybercrimes.

Engineer Louis Casambre, chair of CICC, said the body would guarantee that basic rights would not be infringed by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new law, which are yet to be drafted.

"We intend to hold consultative meetings with various stakeholders and ensure that the IRR is consistent with keeping to the spirit of the law and not stifle basic human rights such as the freedom of speech," said Casambre, who also heads the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communications Technology Office.

Media groups and netizens said the Cybercrime Law allegedly threatens the freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press.

"The inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed with the use of computers poses a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet," the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines said in a statement.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) also cautioned the public regarding the enactment of the anti-cybercrime measure.

"[The new law] can signal the opening of the floodgates of Internet regulation that will affect Filipino netizens, given the restrictive mindset of the country's leaders. It is a distinct possibility to which journalists and bloggers, ordinary citizen and anyone committed to free expression through whatever medium, should be alert, and must be prepared to combat," the CMFR said in a statement.

But the CICC said it recognizes the issues raised by those who were alarmed by the passage of the new law.

"We totally understand the concerns of our netizens on this controversial issue, and we hope to address this when we start drafting the IRR," said Casambre.

He added that the CICC will officially meet in the first week of October. The body is also anticipating a directive from Malacanang to complete its members.

The CICC, headed by Casambre, is composed of the National Bureau of Investigation director as vice chairperson, the Philippine National Police chief, and the head of the Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime.

The body will also have one representative from the private sector and academe, who are yet to be determined.

Casambre said they intend to start receiving nominations for the academe and private sector members and vowed that there will be transparency and accountability in the selection process.

Under the new law, the main functions of CICC include the formulation of a national cybersecurity plan and the extension of immediate assistance for the suppression of real-time commission of cybercrime offenses through a computer emergency response team.

Cybercrime cases being bandied by participating law enforcement and prosecution agencies will also be monitored by the CICC.

The body will also facilitate international cooperation on intelligence, investigations, training and capacity building related to cybercrime prevention, suppression and prosecution.

The punishable acts under the new law also include computer-related forgery, fraud, identity theft, cybersex, child pornography, and unsolicited commercial communications or cybersquatting.

Cybersquatting is the acquisition of a person’s domain name in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy the reputation and deprive others from registering the same. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)

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