'Give Cybercrime Prevention Act a chance'
- Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The main proponent of the recently enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act has asked critics, particularly bloggers and other users of social media websites, to give the law a chance and see how it would be implemented.

Sen. Edgardo Angara defended the need to have the law in place and emphasized that it has the legal framework to safeguard basic freedoms such as the right to free expression.

With over 30 million Filipinos now with access to the Internet, Angara said that some form of regulation must be put in place in order to prevent abuses by some users.

“The Internet has become so pervasive that it is already an essential component of many people’s lives. But as the technology evolved, so has the opportunity expanded for real harm to be done,” he said.

He said without the law, cyberspace will be open to all kinds of legal problems and victims of legitimate Internet-related crimes will not be afforded due process.

“With (the law) in place, we actually extend the protections provided in our Constitution to the digital realm,” Angara added.

One of the main objections of the critics has to do with the inclusion of libel as a punishable offense under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

They said Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III was behind the last-minute insertion of the libel clause into the law.

Sotto denied the allegations and explained that what was included in the bill passed by the Senate were crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code, which includes libel.

He said that social media should not be exempted from the law against libel because just like print, radio and television journalists, they should be held accountable for what they convey through their reports.

Sotto lamented that there is no accountability in social media, and as such, the law would level the playing field with the journalists of traditional media.

Angara said the critics of the law should just wait for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to come out and see if the concerns they have are addressed.

An inter-agency body comprised of the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Information and Communications Technology Office under the Department of Science and Technology has been tasked with the crafting of the IRR, which should be ready within 90 days of the signing of the law.

The law was signed last Sept. 12.

ANGARA CYBERCRIME PREVENTION ACT DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY OFFICE EDGARDO ANGARA LAW LIBEL REVISED PENAL CODE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER VICENTE SOTTO SOTTO
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