Journalists group: Cybercrime law betrays freedom

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

THE passage of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 betrays the Aquino administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

In a statement, NUJP said the inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed with the use of computers poses threat not only against the media and other communicators but “anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet.”

President Benigno Aquino signed the Cybercrime law on September 12, the second Information Communication Technology (ICT)-related bill that the Aquino administration signed this year.


Under the law, among the offenses punishable aside from libel include cybersex, child pornography, cyber squatting and identity theft, spamming or unsolicited commercial communication, computer-related forgery, illegal access to a computer system and/or illegal interception of data, data interference including intentional alteration or damaging of data; system interference including damaging or altering computer data or programs as well as the use of viruses, the misuse of devices; and the use, production, sale, procurement, importation, distribution or making available without right of malware, passwords or codes.

Aquino also signed into law the Data Privacy Act in August with provisions restricting access to information.

“Compare the haste with which this measure and the Data Privacy Act became law, compared to Congress’ lethargy on a bill that President Aquino has repeatedly declared a priority yet never lifted a finger to help shepherd through the legislative mill -- the Freedom of Information Act – and it becomes all too apparent that this President never meant anything he said with respect to our rights and our freedoms,” the NUJP said.

Nonoy Espina of the NUJP said even the United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Philippine government to review the law as it successfully broaden the scope of the libel.

Espina said the United Nations Human Rights Council itself declared it excessive and called on the Philippine government to review the law with the end of decriminalizing libel.

“We have time and again aired our suspicions that this President was no friend of press freedom, what with his apathy toward the continued murders, assaults and threats on our ranks and his penchant for whining and blaming media for delivering the news instead of singing his praises,” he said.

However, Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Ramon Tabor hailed the law’s passage, saying it will protect the people from being abused through the social networking sites.

“What is important with this new law is that the people’s right will be protected,” Tabor said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 20, 2012.

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