I might be getting myself a headache. Wait. Scratch that. Legislators
might be giving me a headache.
Recently, certain senators have been butting heads over the Reproductive Health Bill (which I haven't read fully yet). And because Filipinos are Filipinos, persons were teased (or bullied, whoever side you're on), feelings were hurt, and lo and behold, an additional clause for the the cybercrime law was born.
What are the clauses of what the cybercrime law is against anyway?
Chapter Two of RA 10175 says that the law is against:
(a) Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems:
It includes Illegal Access
, which is accessing any part of a computer system without any right of doing so. It also includes Illegal Interception
which the law defines as "the interception made by technical means without right of any non-public transmission of computer data to, from, or within a computer system including electromagnetic emissions from a computer system carrying such computer data."
The third sub-clause is on Data Interference
, which is intentionally altering, damaging, deleting data "without right". This also includes computer virus transmission and introduction. The fourth sub-clause is System Interference
, which the bill defines as intentionally altering/hindering computer function or network function. And that's done by"inputting, transmitting, damaging, deleting, deteriorating, altering or suppressing computer data or program, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right or authority, including the introduction or transmission of viruses."
So far, it seems a pretty great law to pass, right? The clauses will prove to be quite useful, especially for companies and certain individuals. For instance, there's a sub-clause that tackles what the law calls Cyber-squatting
, or "the acquisition of a domain name over the internet in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy reputation, and deprive others from registering the same". It may also potentially protect people from Computer-related Forgery, Fraud, and Identity Theft
. Additionally, it also prohibits Cybersex
and Child Pornography
. Oh, and Unsolicited Commercial Communications
(i.e. spam e-mails).
What's the issue here, then?
Now, from what I've heard and what I've read, the sub-clause Computer Fraud
would be the clause related to libel. In this case, it's just another word for cyber libel. My brother and I had been discussing why libel is such a crime in the country. I told him that it really has something to do with culture. We're a people used to saving face; our reputation is important to us. Females don't want to be called certain terms. Families keep mum about what's really going on just to protect their names. The public may not be as forgiving when it comes to labels and their scrutiny of you.
Within the past few months, there have been a lot of memes and even groups dedicated to poking fun at certain legislators. It still is a pressing issue, and the fact that sub-clause number six has been added to the bill has made this blow out of proportion. What disappoints me is that even though most clauses of the law would prove to be useful, with proper execution, the sub-clause on Computer Fraud
feels like it was added out of mere impulsiveness and anger. What's more, this sub-clause might one day be impractical, seeing as the term "libel" can be so misleading and arbitrary. How this bill is being handled makes a lot of people so dismayed and shocked. Legislators should not be using their positions of power for their own benefit, or use it as a bitter response against critics.
I still have my fears about RA 10175, though. How would it be implemented? Will I still have a voice? Will this lead to censorship? I hope our senators earnestly listen to The People, taking note of our concerns--because what the law really is about protecting the country's citizens.