Anti-cybercrime law takes effect

Posted at 10/03/2012 12:00 AM | Updated as of 10/03/2012 11:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 takes effect today, October 3, after the Supreme Court (SC) did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction on the implementation of assailed provisions of the controversial legislation.

According to well-placed ABS-CBN sources, discussions on the petitions filed against Republic Act No. 10175 and applications for the issuance of a TRO or injunctive writ were instead reset to next Tuesday's en banc session.

Atty. Maria Victoria Gleoresty Sp. Guerra, acting chief of the SC Public Information Office, confirmed this later in the day.

She said in a statement that the petitions "are up for further study."

This, however, does not mean the high court will no longer restrain the implementation of the assailed provisions.

On several occasions, TROs or injunctive writs were issued after several en banc discussions, or after the holding of oral arguments.

Velasco to write ponencia

Seven petitions have been lodged with the high court, so far, against RA No. 10175 by Louis Biraogo, Disini, et al., ALAM party list, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Adonis, et al., Rep. Palatino, et al., and Bayan et al.

The petitions have been consolidated and reportedly assigned to Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. as writer of decision or ponente.

Collectively, the provisions of the law they want declared unconstitutional are the following:

-- Sec. 4 (a)(3), which includes data interference, defined as "the intentional or reckless alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right, including the introduction or transmission of viruses," in the list of cybercrime offenses;

-- Sec. 4(b)(3), which lists computer-related identity theft, defined as the intentional acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of identifying information belonging to another, as one of computer-related offenses;

-- Sec. 4(c)(4), which criminalizes libel, not only on the internet, but also on "any other similar means which may be devised in the future;"

-- Sec. 5(a)(b), which identifies other offenses punishable under the law, such as: (a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime; and (b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime;

-- Sec. 6, which raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications;

-- Sec. 7, which provides that, apart from prosecution under the law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws;

-- Sec. 12, which authorizes the real-time collection of traffic data;

-- Sec. 17, which authorizes service providers and law enforcement agencies to "completely destroy the computer data subject of a preservation and examination" order;

-- Sec. 19, which authorizes the DOJ to block access to computer data when such data "is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act;" and

-- Sec. 20, which states that those who fail to comply with provisions of Chapter IV (Enforcement and Implementation), specifically orders from law enforcement agencies, shall face imprisonment of prision correctional (6 months and 1 day to 6 years) in its maximum period or a fine of P100,000 or both, for each noncompliance.

RA 10175 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino on Sept. 12.

10 justices present

Guerra said Tuesday's en banc session had a quorum with 10 justices present.

They are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Bienvenido L. Reyes, and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.

Not present were Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Mariano C. Del Castillo who are all official business abroad for the Justice Sector Peer-Assisted Network Community of Practice Meetings for Information Systems Professionals in the Justice Sector and for Public Prosecutors held on September 27-28, 2012 and October 1-2, 2012, respectively in the Republic of Croatia.

Justice Abad, meanwhile is on personal leave.