Miriam’s version decriminalizes libel
MANILA, Philippines - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is pushing for a crowdsourced anti-cybercrime bill version 2.0 that seeks to address the controversies in the previous one.
The senator said the so-called Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) addresses the issue of cybercrime while also protecting freedom of speech on the Internet. She said this is a direct response to Republic Act No. 10175, which has been halted by the Supreme Court.
“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.
For one, the MCPIF seeks to decriminalize libel. “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.”
It also does not allow double jeopardy, which is contrary to what was inputted in the first version. RA 10175 also prosecutes offenses already committed against the Revised Penal Code, even if the offenses are from a single act.
No takedown clause
She also said the MCPIF guarantees one’s right against illegal searches and seizures. “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.”
She said the “takedown” clause in RA 10175 has been quashed in her version. She said court proceedings are warranted before a website or network is taken down. It also prohibits censorship of content sans an order from the courts.
The Department of Justice does not have an encompassing power in her version, unlike the original one. While the DOJ is also given the powers to ensure enforcement, the proposed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will become the "lead agency" for oversight vis-a-vis the use of the Internet.
She explained her version prepares the proposed DICT and other law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation, the police and the military for handling cybercrimes.
Section 47 of the bill provides amendments to the AFP Modernization Act to ensure the country has weapons and defenses 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.
She said the MCPIF will ensure the harnessing of ICT for national development while blocking crimes.
She said that if it will be passed into law, the MCPIF will be the first 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.