Defamation over social media to be penalized under bill

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2011 07:52 PM | Updated as of May 31 2011 03:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Consolidated Cyber Crime Bill in the House of Representatives, if approved , is set to penalize cyberstalking and defamation over social media.

Committee Chairman Sigfrido Tinga on Monday said, while the bill recognizes freedom of expression, even that has to be within the confines of what is acceptable.

A review of the consolidated version of the bill defines the following acts as cybercrime offenses.

A. Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems such as:

  1. Illegal Access.
  2. Illegal Interception.
  3. Data Interference.
  4. System Interference.
  5. Misuse of Devices.

B. Computer-related Offenses such as:

  1. Computer Forgery.
  2. Computer-related Fraud.

C. Content-related Offenses such as:

  1. Cybersex.
  2. Unsolicited Commercial Communications like the use of a computer system which seeks to advertise, sell or offer for sale products and services without the consent of the recipient
  3. Cyberdefamation.
  4. Cyberthreats.

Violators of this bill, if approved, would be also be held liable under other pertinent laws.

The bill prescribes the following penalties for violators:

  • Prison mayor and/or a P200,000 fine for computer related offsenses and offenses against confidentiality and integrity of data,
  • Prison mayor for cybersex law violators and/or fine of between P200,000 to P1M
  • Arresto mayor or a 50,000- to 250,000-peso fine for unsolicited commercial communications
  • Arresto mayor and a fine of 100 to 300 thousand pesos for cyber defamation.

However, if high penalties are prescribed under the Revised Penal Code, then those will apply.
The bill also says cyberdefamation is coupled with a cyberthreat as defined in the law.

The penalty to be imposed on the guilty person shall be prision mayor or a fine of at least P500,000 but not exceeding P1 million, or both.

Any public official or employee who, by reason of his office, with or without consideration, knowingly commits, conspires in the commission, or knowingly conceals violations of any of the provisions of this Act, shall likewise be principally responsible for the violation and be punished with imprisonment, a fine, or both, and shall suffer the additional penalty or permanent disqualification to hold public office.

Companies could also be held liable when any of the punishable acts herein defined is knowingly committed on behalf of or for the benefit of a juridical person, by a natural person acting either individually or as part of an organ of the juridical person, who has a leading position within.

In addition, its license to do business in the Philippines shall be revoked.

The bill also stipulates that those responsible for the management and operation of a foreign corporation licensed to do business in the Philippines, cannot use as their defense that they were unaware of the violation, unless, they show proof that despite oversight and rules the violation cannot be prevented.