Philippine Cyber Crime Law: Police are allowed to watch private Skype Yahoo FB video conversation

A new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups.

The stated aim of the cybercrime law is to fight online pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming in the conservative Catholic nation amid police complaints they lack the legal tools to stamp out Internet crime.

However it also includes a blanket provision that puts the country's criminal libel law into force in cyberspace, except that the penalties for Internet defamation are much tougher compared with old media.

It also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice/video applications, such as Skype, without a warrant.

Teenagers unwarily retweeting or re-posting libelous material on social media could bear the full force of the law, according to Noemi Dado, a prominent Manila blogger who edits a citizen media site called Blog Watch.

"Not everyone is an expert on what constitutes libel. Imagine a mother like me, or teenagers and kids who love to rant. It really hits our freedoms," Dado told AFP.

Compounding the concerns, those teenagers or anyone else who posts a libellous comment faces a maximum prison term of 12 years and a fine of one million pesos ($24,000).

Meanwhile, newspaper editors and other trained professionals in traditional media face prison terms of just four years and fines of 6,000 pesos.

While harsh criminal libel legislation remains in force in other parts of Asia, Dado said the Philippine law sent the wrong signal in a country that overthrew the military-backed Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship just 26 years ago.

Dado, a lawyer's wife known in the local online community as the "momblogger", is among a group of bloggers and other critics of the libel element of the cybercrime law campaigning for it to be repealed.

Brad Adams, Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the law was having a chilling effect in the Philippines, which has one of the world's highest per capita rates of Facebook and Twitter users.

"Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader -- including government officials -- bring a libel charge," Adams said.

About a third of the Philippines' nearly 100 million people use the Internet, with 96 percent them on Facebook, according to industry figures.

Five petitions claiming the law is unconstitutional have been filed with the Supreme Court.

Senator Teofisto Guingona, the lone opponent when the bill was voted on in the Senate, has filed one of the petitions to the Supreme Court.

"Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime -- even if you just re-tweet or comment on an online update or blog post," Guingona told the court.

"The questioned provisions... throw us back to the Dark Ages."

The five petitions all say the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication.

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque, who filed one of the petitions, said the Philippines was one of a shrinking number of countries where defamation remained a crime punishable by prison.

Part of the penal code that was drawn up 82 years ago, it goes against the trend in many advanced democracies such as the United States and Britain where defamation is now punished with fines rather than imprisonment, Roque said.

Amid the public backlash, some of the senators who voted for the cybercime law have started to disassociate themselves from it, even claiming they did not read the provision on libel.

However presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has defended the cybercrime law.

"The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace.... freedom of expression is always recognised but freedom of expression is not absolute," he told reporters on Thursday.

Nevertheless, Lacierda said the law could still be refined.

He called for critics to submit their concerns to a government panel that will issue by the end of the year specific definitions of the law, such as who may be prosecuted.


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  1. Magaling si Aquino!!! imbes gumaganda sa sana ang image ng Pilipinas, ito ibinalik nya ang martial law buwset..

    Nasaan na privacy nito? mag uusap kami ng Mister ko na nasa Suadi private pag uusap namin, ayan pala naka 3rd party ang mga pulis at nakikinig sa amin at pinanood video namin.

    Ganito pala ka lagim ang pamunuan mo Aquino.. Nasaan na ang iyong dakilang ina bakit baliktad ang ginawa mo sa bayan... nasaan ang kalayaan .. kumunista na ba tayo

    Mga hayoo kayo Aquino.. palibhasa mga intsek kayo hindi kayo Pinoy.... maraming kremin ang dapat mong uunahin hindi ang pakialaman ang personal na buhay namin.

    Bakla ka Aquino.. bakla ka.. gusto mo lang din makita kung maghuhubad asawa ko habang mag uusap kami sa YM, karapatan namin mag asawa kung anong privadong pag uusapa, bakit ka manghihimasok sa personal na buhay.. lalaki hanap mo.. buset ka.. buset ka panot.. buwset ka aquino... buwset kang bakla ka

  2. Mga kababayan, isang malaking threat ang batas na ito sa malayang Pilipinas. tayo ay dapat mapag matyag hindi ibig sabihin na porke nasa gobyerno sila, sila na lahat masusunod. Sumusuporta tayo sa Gobyernong Aquino pero pangangalagaan natin ang kalayaan natin. Freedom of Speech daw ay hindi absolute o bakit hindi sabihin nila gusto nila bubusalan ang mamamayang pilipino? Amyendahan ang batas na ito bago pa man ito magdudulot ng problema at abuse sa mamamayan. Nakita ko ang pumirma ng batas na ito ay mga arroyo patunay lamang na takot ang mga arroyo na e criticized sila. Pananawagan namin sa malacanyang... huwag hayaang maghahari muli ang gobyernong arroyo sapamamagitan ng pag busal nila sa mga malayang mamamayan

  3. Huwag na magusap magtelephone na lang Balik.

  4. Dahil sa batas na ito, ang wire tapping sa telephone ay legal na rin. Ibig sabihin sino man gusto mong subaybayan, e tap mo lang ang wire sa labas ng taong gusto mo at lahat ang tawag at outgoing call ay pwde na pakinggan ni sino man.

  5. Mga misis na sabik kay mister, bawal na sumulip sa alaga ni mister sa YM kasi kita ng mga baklang Pulis may kaagaw ka na. Mga boyfriend na tinuturuan ng PDOS na mag sarili at magagawa lamanghabang pinanood si GF sa YM illegal na rin makukulong si GF sa Pinas at si Mister makukulong din ng 12 years pag uwi sa pinas.

    Dapat kasi enspecify nila hindi kahit sino kasi my private life din tayo.. para na tayong naka hubad habang naglalakad sa kalye.. huwag na kaya tayo mag damit total mainit naman dito sa Pilipinas. Mag hubad nalang tyao lahat kahit sa lahat para mas magandang tourist destination tayo kahi ang batas na ito parang hinubaran na tayo eh

  6. tanong ko lang po komunista nba ang bansa ko? anung bang malaking kalokohan to putang ina nman oh!! pirma kasi ng pirma bkit inde muna mag survey bago pirmahan ang batas na to! suportahan ntn ang anonymous philippines sila lng ang makakapag patigil ng malaking kalokohan na to!

  7. Parang modern martial law na nga.. mga activista kasi noon pinalabas nila Noynoying .. dahil sa batas na ito bawal na sila mag noynoying.. libel na yan 12 years imprisonment..

    Pero nakita ko sa cybercrime law 2012 - Mga arroyo ang nangunguna sa pag pirma kasi napahiya sila sa more than 100 case ng corruption kay GMA sa batas na ito bawal ka na mag criticize kay GMA makukulong ka na ng 12 years

    Wala na tayong privacy.. lahat subject nito mahilig ka ba mag chat ng YM mga pulis pwede na manood ng 3rd party sa inyo at pwede ring sumali sa conversation nyo

    PRIVACY now = 0.



    1. Separate kng mag-isa mo! Yan ugali ng isang loner, self-pity individual! Imbes lets unite to fight gusto mo umiba ng dereksyon! Go out and have some fun dont be slave to your keyboards and lunatic mindset!
      Post office businesses is alive again....

  9. It will take years to be possible. I'm not threatened at all.

    Years, and there are days in it, where amendments could be possible as well.

  10. Mag salsal lagi pag nasa skype at mg phonesex para lahat ng pulis nkaupo nlang sa upuan ng eenjoy ...... Bwagxhaha! Bachelor kya ating pangulo kya alam nyo nya!

  11. Ito ang resulta sa pag benta ng shoal sa China ni Trillanes. Napahiya at nabulgar sa harap ng publiko ang silent move ng gobyerno ang daming nagreklamo.

  12. separate kang mag-isa "KALAWANG" ka sumisira sa maayos na bakal. sana wag magpadala ang may maayos na kaisipan, di tulad ng isa ito na gusto ihiwalay ang vismin sa luzon.

  13. Hoy! sa palagay nyo ba nasa maayos ng direksyon ang Pilipinas? Sino ang handang tumangkilik sa Martial Law ha?

    Magisip kayo....!!!!!! kung ganitong nangyayari ngayon sa palagay nyo hindi ito martial law? Imbes na supurtahan nyo ang mali ng Gobyerno lumaban kayo at ipaglaban nating lahat na mali ang batas na ito kaya dapat amyendahan.

    Huwag kayong maging tanga mga Gung-gong kayo porque mga asawa nyo sundalo at moment nyo na.. bakit mga anak nyo di gagamit ng Internet?

    Tama naman maging PRO Government kayo eh pero kung hindi nyo kayang tulungan ang mamamayan na ituwid ang mali huwag nyo silang pigilan. intiendes?

    Sa palagay nyo amg isa ang sinumang Visayas and Mindanao? Hindi ano.. kahit mga taga Northern Luzon tututol dito. Hindi ang mga Pumirma ng baboy na batas na ito ang mayari ng Pilipinas.

    Porque ba napahiya ang mga Pulitiko pag nag nakaw sila at nabatikos sila e implement nila ang ganitong batas para wala ng mag criticized sa kanila?


  14. ano `to!para sa mga corrupt na pulitiko??? kaming mga taong bayan,tinanggalan nyo kami ng karapatan na sabihin namin ang mga katiwalian ng mga nasa puwesto sa gobyerno,internet ang paraan namin para malaman ng mga taong bayan at ng mga pulitiko kung anong kababalaghan ang nangyayari sa nakakaawang sitwasyon ng naghihirap na mga pilipino! kayong mga pulitiko,ayusin nyo trabaho nyo!

  15. Si noy noy ba gumawa nga batas? Lehislatura di ba? Bakit si noynoy ang tiitira dito?

  16. Let us not buy products made in China. Let us also stop buying products from the companies of Lucio Tan and Ramon Ang.

  17. and Henry Sy!Wag nyo nang problemahin yang cyber crime law na yan dahil end of the world na sa dec21!! WOO HOO!! Tangina ka Panot-noy!! Bwahaha!!

  18. taga mindanao kami,,gusto nanamin tumiwalag sa luzon, mga walang kwenta ang pag iisip ng mga tao dyan..

  19. Si Senator Sotto daw ang culprit nitong cybercrime law na ito na siningit na crime against libel.

    Dapat ang inatupag iyong mga murderers, carnappers, holdappers, roberries at shabu drug lords - dapat ang mga ito ay hindi na bailable. Tapos iyong mga illegal recruitment agencies, horders, land grabbers, corrupt officials - non bailable din dapat ang mga ito.

  20. Basta ako nasa canada ako. Haha.

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