After 'Hello, Garci', GMA rejects loose controls on traffic logs

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2011 01:43 PM | Updated as of May 31 2011 12:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other lawmakers in the Committee of Information and Communication Technology flatly rejected a proposal by the National Bureau of Investigation to remove the requirement of a court warrant before a telecommunications company can release the traffic logs of cellphone users.
Traffic logs contain information like call logs.
NBI Head Agent Migdonio Gonzon was making the request for inclusion in the proposed CyberCrime Bill, which drew emphatic reactions from the lawmakers.
“You’re violating the law!” Arroyo said, raising her voice.
Committee Chairman Sigfrido Tinga told representatives of telecom companies: “We should not be able to get traffic data.  May we remind telcos this is law. You should not be furnishing people other than subscribers the traffic data.”
Earlier, Arroyo asked: “What's basis of issuance of warrant? You cannot issue warrant just because you want to tap someone. It has to be defined. Otherwise you have police state!”
This was after the Committee had just approved at their level the proposed CyberCrime Bill. The bill will be sent to the Appropriations committee for its funding requirements and then to plenary for its consideration.

In 2005, then President Arroyo admitted before nationwide TV that she had called up a poll commissioner a year earlier to inquire about her votes during the 2004 presidential election. Her admission came after the release of the so-called "Hello, Garci" tapes, which contained alleged wiretapped conversations of Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and various officials.

Critics said the taped conversations proved that Arroyo cheated in the 2004 presidential election to ensure a 1 million vote margin over close rival Fernando Poe Jr. The scandal culminated in several impeachment attempts, which were rejected by Arroyo allies in Congress.

CyberCrime amendments

On Monday, Arroyo moved to approve the CyberCrime bill of which she is one of the co-authors. There was no objection from the committee so her motion was carried.

The approval came with amendments on 4 major points.
1.     the definition of “cyber”
2.     amendments with regards to jurisdiction—removing limitation on the nationality of those involved and the coverage of the impact area of the crime.
3.     amendment proposed by Rep. Susan Yap deleting the portion defining cyber pornography and cybersex to include payments. Deletion makes lewd exhibition on cyberspace per se a crime.
4.     Amendment to include threats to life and threats to national security as limits/requirements for which an issuance of a court order for the interception of data.
The same CyberCrime measure, if approved , would also penalize cyberstalking and defamation over social media. Tinga said while the bill recognizes freedom of expression, even that has to be within the confines of what is acceptable.

The CyberCrime bill was approved by the House in the 14th Congress but failed to pass the Senate. The Senate version is now on 2nd reading.

After 2 technical working group meetings, the consolidated version of 9 original bills as approved included the following:
-adoption of definition of terms as used in Budapest convention
-rewording of content related to offenses considering passage of laws penalizing voyeurism and child pornography
-included provision on cyber defamation and cyberthreats
- the creation of a joint congressional oversight committee
The bill also creates an investigating arm under the Office of the President.

The original authors include Arroyo,  Susan Yap, Eric Singson Jr., Marcelino Teodoro, Juan Edgardo Angara, Carmelo Lazatin, Rufus Rodriguez and Mariano Michael Velarde Jr.

“This law if passed will protect and safeguard not only integrity of computer systems but veracity of database and confidentiality of data storing systems as well as all networks from misuse abuse and illegal access," Tinga said.
Arroyo likened the Cybercrime bill to the Visiting Forces Agreement on the matter of jurisdiction where participants will be held liable where crime was committed. She suggested that the NBI already come up with a proposed budget especially for this measure.