Lawmakers move to amend Cybercrime law
MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers filed bills that seek to repeal contentious provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Sen Francis Escudero -- who voted for the approval of the law -- filed Senate bill 3288 on Tuesday, October 2, seeking to repeal Sec 4(c) 4 of Republic Act 10175 because it penalizes online libel.
Sec 4(c) 4 defines libel as "the unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future."
Escudero said that with the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, libel becomes a "state tool to restrain freedom of speech."
Escudero wrote in the bill that seeking to have Sec.4(c) 4 stricken off from the law is consistent with his goal to remove imprisonment as a penalty for libel. Escudero has filed Senate Bill 2162 in 2010 which called for the decriminalization of libel.
The law takes effect Wednesday, October 3, after the Supreme Court (SC) failed to issue a temporary restraining order when the High Court met en banc Tuesday. SC insiders said the justices needed more time to study the law and would deliberate on it Tuesday next week.
At least 7 petitions have been filed with the Court calling on the justices to nullify the law or some of its provisions. The petitioners -- bloggers, artists, journalists, political parties, lawyers, and members of the academe -- argue that the law violates freedom of expression and gives the government too much power over Internet users.
Meanwhile, lawmakers Raymond Palatino and Teddy Casiño from the House of Representatives filed House Bill No 6613 or the Internet Freedom bill on October 1, which mandates the repeal of Sections 4(c)4, 5, 6, 7 and the whole Chapter 4 of RA 10175.
Section 4 of the law lists libel as one of the cybercrime offenses, while Sections 5, 6 and 7 seeks to punish persons who helped commit a cybercrime, and those who attempted to commit cybercrime.
The entire Chapter IV of the anti-cybercrime law grants the Department of Justice the power to restrict or block access to computer data found to be in violation of the RA 10175. It specifies methods of collecting data.
“The passage of Republic Act No 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, poses serious threats to Internet freedom, the right to privacy and other essential civil liberties including the freedom of speech, expression, and the press,” Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino said.
“The insertion of provisions regarding online libel and vague sections on data collection and sanctions is essentially an online censorship law," he added. - Rappler.com
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