Computer hacking now a crime under 2 laws

Posted at 10/03/12 4:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has a warning to hackers and so-called hacktivists who continue to deface official government websites, including the Official Gazette site of the Office of the President (OP), in protest of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

In a 2-page statement, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima warned that the "crime," which violates the "confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer data and systems," is punishable under this very law as well as under RA No. 8792 or the E-Commerce Law which penalizes hacking under Sec. 33 (a).

De Lima stressed that there is a "clear line between legitimate expressions of dissent and acceptable forms of protests versus the commission of illegal acts."

"Disagreeing with certain sections of the law or questioning the legislative intent is no excuse to commit crimes -- defacing websites whether government or not, disrupting essential operations and services, and causing damage to scarce resources," she said.

The justice chief highlighted what the assailed law can do to combat globally prevalent cybercrimes.

"Precisely the purpose of the law (RA No. 10175) is to protect our citizens from unscrupulous and abusive actions of misfits and the wicked in society. We see massive cyber fraud, state-sponsored terrorism, telecommunications hacking, credit card scams and consumer schemes that the State is mandated to investigate and prosecute," she said.

Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, head of the DOJ Office of Cybercrime, meantime, pointed out that the number of hacking incidents lately "only shows the vulnerability" of the Philippines information and communications technology framework, "and proves a necessity of a cybercrime law to protect" the public against criminal syndicates and transnational organized crime.

The DOJ stressed that this new office will spearhead the implementation of RA No. 10175 "to ensure the continued development of the business processing outsourcing (BPO) industry, to protect critical infrastructure and to encourage the use of technology and social media by netizens who report abuses and are victims of crimes over the internet."

Aside from mass protests via social networking sites against the law, several petitions had been filed with the Supreme Court (SC) aimed at striking down the law as unconstitutional.