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Philippines’ Cybercrime Law now in effect, punishing online libel is constitutional

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The Philippines’ Supreme Court today ruled on the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012, or RA 10175, and the constitutionality of most of its provisions. Punishing online libel was declared constitutional.

But despite being constitutional, it will be on the condition that only the original author will be held liable. It will not penalize the receiver of the post, or those who react to the post.

In September 2012, President Benigno Aquino signed the Cybercrime bill into law. Following this, citizens went to social media sites to express their outrage about the online libel provision, which they argue would force citizens to limit what they post on social media sites and other online platforms.

The controversy spurred Anonymous group to hack a number of government websites as part of its protest.

The take-down clause (Section 19), which allows the Department of Justice to block access to any digital content considered evidence of any violation of the CyberCrime Law, was deemed unconstitutional.

Real-time collection of traffic data (Section 19), whereby “Law enforcement authorities, with due cause, shall be authorized to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real time,” was also ruled unconstitutional.

A few minutes after the announcement broke, netizens are already sharing their thoughts on Twitter.

@ANCAlerts quotes BayanMuna partylist representative Neri Colmenares in an interview, where he shares his disapproval on the decision. He says:

Libel in many countries is no longer criminal. Here, it’s criminal and worse, it’s now considered a crime on the Internet. The Cybercrime Law can really stifle the use of technology and threaten the right to free press & freedom of expression.

Following this decision, the CyberCrime law can now be implemented by authorities after being held off for two years.

(Editing by Paul Bischoff)


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