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Why the Cybercrime Law is not the answer to child cyber porn

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To combat cyber porn using children, the government is vigorously pushing for the Supreme Court to unfreeze the Cybercrime Law (Republic Act 10175) and allow it to take effect.

But they haven’t specified just what it is in the law that will help them.

Is it the fact that the law shoehorns the entire Revised Penal Code into cyberspace and imposes extra-heavy criminal penalties on ANY crime committed with the help of digital technology?

Would it be the fact that the law will allow anyone — say, a senator? — to sue for libel anyone on Facebook?

Could it be the bit that lets government block any website it chooses — the way China does?

Or perhaps it’s that bit in the Cybercrime Law that allows the government to spy without any accountability? That might be it.

I cannot stress enough the dangers of the Cybercrime Law. Its atrocious lack of safeguards can easily enable rogue cops and government officials to commit crimes of extortion and blackmail using the digital highway.

In the course of my investigation, I also learned that the Cybercrime Law was enacted in order to enable the Intellectual Property Rights Office (IPO) to go after those who download music on the Internet from torrent sites. This is one of the REAL USES of the Cybercrime Law.

It is also not enough to simply remove the section on criminal libel from the Cybercrime Law. Because the Cybercrime Law is not just about libel. Or just about child pornography. It includes all the crimes in the country’s statute books including rebellion.

It hands policemen and personnel of the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation as well as employees of the private telecom companies the power to spy on everyone – private citizens and even government officials. That’s because the wording of Section 13 on the “Real-”Real Time Collection of Traffic Data” is so vague.

Given what’s been happening in the US about the rogue activities of its National Security Agency, can we expect OUR law agencies (which are not exactly famous for being clean and effective) to do better? By the way, the NSA has also been claiming it was just studying metadata, which might be true, but that didn’t stop it from rampant and wholesale snooping on any target they chose, without oversight or accountability.

Anyway, I doubt the Cybercrime Act can do much to stop cyber porn because, as the police recently disclosed, those who make their children and other relatives engage in sex before video cameras use video chats. Most probably, my hubby Alan told me, they use Skype. And Skype is encrypted and even foreign governments have had a tough time cracking the encryption so they can spy on terrorists who use the service.

Alan, who has been lecturing on Internet privacy at the International Institute für Journalismus in Berlin, also noted that in order for authorities to effectively use the Cybercrime Law to catch cyber porn producers, they would have to spy on the Internet activities of a large section of the population and see which IP addresses might be suspect.

That would be the equivalent of saying “there might be snatchers in Manila and we don’t know who they are, therefore we should be allowed to freely raid and search every home in the hope that maybe we’ll find them.”

The police said cyber porn is a thriving cottage industry in Cebu, Pampanga, Cagayan de Oro and Metro Manila. So there you go. The real-time traffic collection of data would have to be undertaken in those areas.

Read more: http://raissarobles.com/2014/01/21/a-license-to-snoop-why-the-cybercrime-law-is-not-the-answer-to-child-cyber-porn/

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.