Philippines: President Aquino Passes Cybercrime Law

President Benigno Aquino III has signed the proposed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law, four months after approval at the Philippine Congress. The law aims to be “an act defining cybercrime, providing for prevention, investigation and imposition of penalties therefore and for other purposes.”

Filed by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, the law will “enable the State to adopt sufficient powers to effectively prevent and combat all forms of misuse, abuse and illegal access by facilitating their detection, investigation, arrest and prosecution at both the domestic and international levels, and by providing arrangements for fast and reliable international cooperation.”

Some groups, however, have objected that the provisions may be overly-broad and may “criminalize ordinary electronic activities of Internet users,” and even “legislate morality,” although the law’s proponents have highlighted the need for government to be up-to-date when it comes to fighting crime in an increasingly digital world.

In a statement, Angara said that “cybercrime does not have any place in the Philippines.” He stressed the need for institutional reforms that will address the fast-paced changes in technology, which government agencies have to catch up with. “We need to give our law enforcement agencies not just the authority but also the capacity to tackle this new problem. And we need to do so fast as cybercrimes grow more sophisticated and complex along with the evolution of technology.”

The law has provisions for the following:

  • Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems (illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, and misuse of devices)
  • Computer-related offenses (computer forgery, computer-related fraud, and computer-related identity theft)
  • Content-related offenses (cybersex, unsolicited commercial communications)

Aside from cybercrimes, the law will also form the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC), which will be tasked to formulate and implement the national cyber-security plan.