Miriam files bill to replace anti-cybercrime law, decriminalizes libel
SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Saturdays said she is seeking the passage into law of an “anti-cybercrime law version 2.0” to replace the controversial Republic Act No. 10175, and decriminalizes libel.
In her statement, Santiago said that her Senate Bill No. 3327, also known as the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF), will protect the rights and freedoms of Filipinos in cyberspace, while defining and penalizing cybercrimes.
“The MCPIF does not suffer from overbreadth and vagueness in its provisions on libel, unlike the law it tries to replace. In fact, it treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act, which is a step forward in the move to decriminalize libel,” the senator said.
“While it is important to crackdown on criminal activities on the internet, protecting constitutional rights like free expression, privacy, and due process should hold a higher place in crafting laws,” she said.
Santiago points out that the MCPIF upholds the freedom of expression of Filipinos in cyberspace, unlike Republic Act No. 10175.
Santiago adds that her bill differs from R.A. 10175 in that it guarantees the right against illegal searches and seizures.
“R.A. 10175 violates the right to privacy and the Constitutional guarantee against illegal search and seizure through allowing the warrantless real-time collection of traffic data.
In contrast, the MCPIF ensures due process by providing strict guidelines for any collection of any data, including the securing of warrants, obligating notification, and limiting seizure to data and excluding physical property,” Santiago said.
The senator said that the MCPIF mandates government agencies to provide security for the data they collect from citizens to ensure their right to privacy.
“The dangerous ‘takedown’ clause of R.A. 10175, where the government may have a website or network blocked or restricted without due process of law, is absent in the MCPIF,” Santiago said. “My bill specifically provides for court proceedings in cases where websites or networks are to be taken down, and prohibits censorship of content without a court order.”
The MCPIF also prohibits double jeopardy. R.A. 10175 allows double jeopardy through prosecution of offenses committed against its provisions and prosecution of offenses committed against the Revised Penal Code and special laws, even though the offenses are from a single act.
S.B. No 3327 also seeks to clarify the mandate and organization of the proposed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the creation of which is currently pending before Congress.
“Because of the broad range of responsibilities related to the enforcement of laws governing ICT, a department-level office should be established and its functions and jurisdiction should be clear-cut,” the senator said.
The MCPIF prepares the proposed DICT, law enforcement agencies, and the military with provisions for handling cybercrimes. Section 47 of the bill provides amendments to the AFP Modernization Act to ensure the country has weapons and defences against cyberattacks by terrorists, violent non-state actors, and rogue or enemy nation-states. The bill’s Section 48, on the other hand, mandates the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to combat cyberterrorism.
“We need to recognize that child pornography, child abuse, and human trafficking can be committed through the internet, as much as hacking, piracy, and copyright infringement. We must define these evils in order for us to crush them,” Santiago said.
Santiago’s bill also enables the country to harness ICT for national development by ensuring government agencies are keeping up with the realities of and advances in information technology, such as those involving consumer welfare and copyright laws.
If passed into law, S.B. No. 3327 will be the first law to be created through “crowdsourcing.” Crowdsourcing is an online process of getting work done by tapping people on the Internet who volunteer their talent and skills.
According to Santiago, a group of concerned netizens—composed of software designers, IT specialists, academics, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, human rights advocates—approached her office with a draft of the MCPIF.
The group formulated the MCPIF through discussions in an open Facebook group, email, Google Hangout teleconferences, and social media channels like Twitter.