After running into a few hitches since its formulation, Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is being fully implemented by various agencies of the national government.
Such a measure was deemed necessary in the face of the changing Filipino social milieu, in which the majority of the populace is now connected to the internet. This has opened up the possibility of people, in one way or another, committing acts that could infringe on the rights of others.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed into law by then President Benigno S. Aquino III on 12 September 2012. The law was well received as it addressed criminal acts that were previously not covered by earlier laws, which were enacted before online activity became an indispensable part of the Filipino way of life.
Evolution of the law
The measure was proposed by the Department of Justice and introduced in the House of Representatives in response to growing concerns amidst the rise of illicit acts such as cybersex, child pornography, unsolicited electronic communication, and identity theft.
As the classification of cybercrimes grew in scope, the legislative measure faced some opposition, mostly from detractors who questioned having an online post being regarded as libel and penalized as such. These opposing groups argued that such a policy would infringe on the Filipino people’s freedom of expression. As a result, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order and a status quo ante order on the law in October of the same year.
After a protracted period of deliberation and ensuing revision of the contentious online libel provisions, the high court ruled in May 2014 that these provisions are constitutional, but ruled against some other provisions, specifically those that would violate the principle of double jeopardy.
As provided for in the earliest draft of the law, child pornography via the internet is regarded as a serious crime. Children rescued from such by the Philippine National Police are housed in rehabilitation facilities, while enablers of this crime, who are often the parents, are sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cyber sex involving a person lasciviously exhibiting via computer technology sexual organs or committing sexual acts for favor or consideration is, likewise, considered a cybercrime with penalties involving imprisonment and fines of up to one million pesos.
Computer-related identity theft which involves unauthorized acquiring, using or misusing, possessing and transferring, altering or deleting another person’s identifying information is punishable with up to six months imprisonment and fines amounting in the hundreds of thousands.
Computer-related forgery and computer-related fraud which involves the unauthorized input, alteration, or deletion of computer data or programs, or interfering with the proper function of a computer system, thereby resulting in damage or corruption of vital data, are also punishable with imprisonment and stiff fines.
The act of acquiring an internet domain for the malicious purpose of depriving other parties from registering such name is an illicit practice called cyber-squatting. This act, which can result in defamation or financial disadvantage of the victim, is punishable with six years imprisonment and similarly heavy fines.
Hacking and other illicit computer-related acts such as illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, and misuse of devices which includes unauthorized use of passwords, access codes, or similar data are all punishable with six to twelve years imprisonment and fines amounting in the hundreds of thousands of pesos.
Even as the issues surrounding libel continue to be contentious, the Cybercrime Prevention Act recognizes the electronic counterpart of libel as defined by the revised penal code as a crime that is, likewise, punishable by law.
Keep abreast of developments in the continuous debate and implementation of this law by contacting Duran & Duran-Schulze Law. Call (+632) 478 5826 or email [email protected]for inquiries.