Next steps for anti-cybercrime-A A +A
Saturday, February 9, 2013
THE decision of the Supreme Court last week to extend until further notice the restraining order on the anti-cybercrime law is a signal for more work to be done.
The work for stakeholders did not end with the removal of the possibility of imprisonment or fine for online users who violate the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The next steps for those pushing to keep online space free and responsible have to be geared towards crafting a better law, educating the public on how to seek redress for grievances committed online, and removing altogether libel as a crime.
Human rights lawyers, media organizations and online users were among those who criticized the law and who celebrated the indefinite restraining order. They saw the need to penalize crimes such as Internet fraud, but opposed the law’s provisions that went against constitutional guarantees of free expression and free press. They wondered how Congress could craft a law without understanding the workings of the new medium.
Oppositions to the law were centered on the provision that created a new crime--online libel, and the authority given the executive to take down a website or web page.
The Supreme Court stopped the implementation of the law but did not rule on the question of constitutionality. This means temporary victory as the Court may later rule to allow the law to take effect.
Those who opposed the law would have to do more so that constitutional guarantees are not violated. They could:
Go back to the legislators and ask them to craft a better Internet law. What Congress passed last year became a tool used to crucify legislators for a poor job at writing laws without understanding their meanings and repercussions. In the coming elections, voters should keep in mind legislators who do not know the job of legislation.
One of the questions posed to those who criticized the law was on how irresponsible and damaging online posts and comments could be punished.
Without the anti-cybercrime law, what recourse do the public have against those who post online libelous statements, who bully others in social media, who invade other people’s privacy? The public should be educated on their rights to sue others for defamation, fraud or invasion of privacy, even without resorting to the cybercrime prevention law.
The recourse for the female student who figured in the recent sex scandal video that circulated online and on mobile phones was an example of how to go after such criminals. She was not without remedy for her grievances as she threatened those who uploaded and spread the video with charges of photo or video voyeurism that carries a penalty of imprisonment and a fine.
As to online libel, we continue to have libel removed from the penal code.
Those who protested the anti-cybercrime law celebrated the Supreme Court order last week. As the celebrations wind down, they should know there is plenty of work ahead.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2013.