MANILA, Philippines - Various groups opposing Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act trooped to Padre Faura in Manila to call on the Supreme Court (SC) to strike down controversial provisions of the law and restrain government from implementing these provisions.
Their protest action, dubbed 'Black Tuesday,' began at around the same time the justices of the high court sat in en banc session, and on the agenda, the various petitions against the legislation. To date, there are 7 petitions filed against RA No. 10175.
|'Black Tuesday Protest' at SC vs Cybercrime Prevention Act. Photo by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
The protesting groups used different antics to dramatize their cause.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), one of the petitioners, held the usual program with loud speakers in tow. They were led by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino who said the version of the law passed at the lower House did not include, for example, criminalizing libel in cyberspace, the takedown powers of the Department of Justice (DOJ) over websites, and the monitoring of correspondences and data traffic of subject persons and sites.
The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance or Pifa, for its part, brought a tarpaulin that read: 'Stop Cyber Martial Law.' Its members were gagged with black tape to symbolize government's "silencing" of their rights to free speech, among others.
The group said the freedom to use the Internet to express their advocacies as well as criticize government is very important to them.
Pifa is an advocacy group. It has a website that opens discussions on various proposed legislations and public projects.
A social networking group, headed by popular personality Marlene Aguilar and her Facebook friends, also came. They were a bit bold -- putting up the dirty finger to express their dismay to the assailed law.
Aguilar warned President Aquino that Anonymous Philippines, the group behind the defacing and hacking of government websites, is only a fraction of what she called Anonymous Global, which is ready to attack Philippine websites to no end in protest of RA No. 10175. Aguilar said this is an "army" Pres. Aquino cannot defeat.
A group of photographers-bloggers also came to take part in the protest.
The Manila Police District sent anti-riot policemen who were monitoring the protest action as it progressed.
Petitioners against RA No. 10175 before the high court are the following: Louis Biraogo, Disini, et al., ALAM party list, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Adonis, et al., Palatino, et al., and Bayan et al. u
Collectively, the provisions of the law they want declared unconstitutional are the following:
-- Sec. 4 (a)(3), which includes data interference, defined as "the intentional or reckless alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right, including the introduction or transmission of viruses," in the list of cybercrime offenses;
-- Sec. 4(b)(3), which lists computer-related identity theft, defined as the intentional acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of identifying information belonging to another, as one of computer-related offenses;
-- Sec. 4(c)(4), which criminalizes libel, not only on the internet, but also on "any other similar means which may be devised in the future;"
-- Sec. 5(a)(b), which identifies other offenses punishable under the law, such as: (a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime; and (b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime;
-- Sec. 6, which raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications;
-- Sec. 7, which provides that, apart from prosecution under the law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws;
-- Sec. 12, which authorizes the real-time collection of traffic data;
-- Sec. 17, which authorizes service providers and law enforcement agencies to "completely destroy the computer data subject of a preservation and examination" order;
-- Sec. 19, which authorizes the DOJ to block access to computer data when such data "is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act;" and
-- Sec. 20, which states that those who fail to comply with provisions of Chapter IV (Enforcement and Implementation), specifically orders from law enforcement agencies, shall face imprisonment of prision correctional (6 months and 1 day to 6 years) in its maximum period or a fine of P100,000 or both, for each noncompliance.