Why I Oppose the Cybercrime Law (Even if Mainstream Media Doesn’t)

I’m not a miscreant — someone who wants to cause trouble. So why am I against a law that supposedly is for the protection of those who may be hacked, or subjected to cyber-prostitution, or whose reputations may be wrecked online?

While Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 may project itself at face value to be just those things, reading its provisions coupled with understanding one’s constitutionally-guaranteed rights will reveal that OMGWTF how did that happen?!

For a layperson-friendly account of what’s wrong with the law, check out Spot.ph/GMA Network’s article “Digital Martial Law: 10 Scary Things about the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012“.

Since October 3 (when the law took effect), 10 petitions have been lodged at the Supreme Court asking to have it declared unconstitutional. There are two petitions that articulate my opinion about the said Act: the petition from bloggers and netizens, and the petition from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the Philippine Press Institute.

I object to the Cybercrime Law on the grounds that it tramples on the right to speech and expression, the right to privacy of communication and correspondence, the right to due process, and the right to be secure of unreasonable searches and seizures. It violates the Constitutional rule against double jeopardy by allowing separate prosecution of the same offense under the Cybercrime Law as well as the old Revised Penal Code. It is a bill of attainder because it singles out a definite class (those who use information and communication technology such as the Internet and computer systems) and punishes that class without benefit of judicial trial by granting the Department of Justice power to block access to a website or computer system if it even looks like a cybercrime is being committed.

Additionally, the penalty for a crime committed with ICT is one degree higher than if it had been committed by traditional means, which implies that merely using ICT is an aggravating circumstance and is a bad, bad thing. I’m of the opinion that the Internet and communication technology are tools, which are neutral.

The Cybercrime Law also fails to provide any procedural safeguards and standards in constructing the Implementing Rules and Regulations, which may be changed by the agency involved in its enforcement without public consultation — ripe for abuse.

I’m grateful that my education opened my eyes to my rights under the Constitution and instilled in me the value of fighting for those rights. My training in media ethics says that journalism gives a voice to the voiceless and can be an effective tool for exposing injustices — thus, vital in a democracy.

That is why I was dismayed that this is how mainstream media (consumed by most Filipinos) is covering the fight against the Cybercrime Law. Below is a clip from the very popular showbiz show The Buzz, in which I was one of the people interviewed.

Note how this “special report” conveniently glosses over all the objections by saying we just need to give the Cybercrime Law a chance. If that’s how it’s presented to the masa media consumer, no wonder people are wondering why we’re so upset about this.

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