De Lima: Cybercrime law to stand legal scrutiny

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said her department is readying changes to the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act, which will be presented to lawmakers in the incoming 16th Congress.

De Lima refused to specify the "improvements" on Thursday but certainly the Department of Justice took cue from the consolidated petitions against Republic Act 10175, whose implementation has been blocked by the Supreme Court since October last year.

"I don't think the outcome of the petition will have an effect on our plan to propose certain enhancements into that law. On our part, we think that the entire law could stand constitutional scrutiny but, of course, we don't know what views of the SC would be," she said.

Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, head of the Office of Cybercrime, said the DOJ will push for the scrapping of online libel and its stiffer penalties, which was inserted by Senator Vicente Sotto III in the bicameral deliberations after receiving online criticism for an alleged plagiarized speech against the enactment of the Reproductive Health law.

"The libel provision is gone which the DOJ in the first place never supported," said Sy.

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

A person can also be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code and libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which the law's opponents said is tantamount to double jeopardy.

Sy, meanwhile, pushed for the retention of real-time collection of traffic data even if petitioners said it violates an individual’s right to privacy and the privacy of communication and correspondence.

The Aquino administration had already asked the SC to strike down the provision that allows the government to restrict or block access to computer data without a court order as this will violate the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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