Senate approves Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
Today, the Philippine Senate approved Bill 2796, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (CPACT). The full text follows. Among the punishable acts are “computer-related fraud”, and “content-related offenses” like “cybersex” and child pornography.
In some ways, the bill represents an improved understanding by authorities of how the internet operates. Among the defined offenses are activities designed to compromise the security and avalability of any “computer system or communication network”. There are even provisions against “Unsolicited Commercial Communications”—in other words, spamming. ₱10,000,000 will be allocated every year “for the implementation of this Act”.
The CPACT would also authorize the monitoring, logging, and seizure of computer data. There is actually good enforcement framework defined, which would require authorities to secure a warrant before they can do any of that.
This will of course make it harder to catch small-time and individual offenses of this law, but at least it’s based on due process. And making the proposed law more effective would have required more invasive monitoring procedures from the government. Would we want that?
In any case, the definition of “Cybersex” seems a bit too vague:
any person who establishes, maintains or controls, directly or indirectly, any operation for sexual activity or arousal with the aid of or through the use of a computer system, for a favor or consideration.
Using this broad definition—which defines a verb as a person—can we also say that the operators of pornography sites would be guilty of “Cybersex” Under the Cybercrime Prevention Act? These sites are about “sexual activity and arousal” after all, and hope to gain visitors’ “favor or consideration” by making money through advertisements and subscriptions. At least the bill wouldn’t penalize long-distance relations expressing their passion through virtual means. True love requires no payment after all.
Most porn sites are based outside the Philippines. As the Philippine government can’t enforce the proposed law in outside jurisdictions, would the CPACT thus allow them to block access to these websites within our country?
The CPACT in its present form also represents a missed opportunity to settle the question of libel online. Although GMA News claims the law covers it, there are no relevant provisions in the full text as embedded below:
Senate Bill 2796 lists its co-authors as
- Trillanes, Antonio “Sonny” F.
- Angara, Edgardo J.
- Enrile, Juan Ponce
- Ejercito-Estrada, Jinggoy P.
- Lapid, Manuel “Lito” M.
- Villar, Manny B.
- Defensor Santiago, Miriam
- Marcos, Ferdinand “Bongbong” R.
- Revilla Jr., Ramon A.
- Legarda, Loren B.
The bill made it through its third Senate reading with a vote of 13-1. The lone dissenter was Senator Guingona, who said the definition of Cybersex “legislates morality”.
Now the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has to make through three more readings in the House of Representatives, and a Presidential veto, before it becomes the law of the land. Turns out the House of Representatives has passed their own anti-cybercrime bill last May, authored primarily by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. So which one would President Noynoy sign into law, if at all? Only time will tell, dear readers.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012 at 5:30 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.