MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants hackers to face the rule of law.
De Lima, who was given broad powers under the Anti-Cybercrime Law, gave the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) a standing order to run after groups or persons responsible for the defacing of government websites right smack on the day the controversial law became effective.
"They will trace who the hackers are and apprehend them. For this purpose, they need to coordinate with the intel units of other investigative bodies," she told reporters.
Among the latest hits by the “hacktivists” are the Official Gazette (www.gov.ph) and the official websites of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Ironically, NBI’s website was also hacked. Its operations went back to normal late Wednesday afternoon.
In Malacañang, officials denied the Official Gazette was hacked. Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the website could not just carry the load brought about by a number of visitors who want to download a copy of the law.
The website was taking a long while to load. The page also said it was being secured by a cloud-based service against denial-of-service attacks.
De Lima said the hackers face arrest and prosecution for illegal access of computer systems.
This is defined under section 4 (a) of the new law. Section 8, on the other hand, provides that the violator will face imprisonment of six to 12 years or a fine of at least P200,000 or both.
"The purpose of the law is to protect our citizens from unscrupulous and abusive actions of misfits and the wicked in society… disagreeing with certain sections of the law or questioning legislative intent is no excuse to commit crimes - defacing websites whether government or not, disrupting essential operations and services and causing damage to scare resources,” she said.
Groups have also questioned section 19 of the law, which gives De Lima the authority to restrict or block access to computer data.
The Justice Secretary was also tasked to set up a computer crimes unit, called the DOJ Cybercrime Office.
This will be headed by Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy.
De Lima, nonetheless, vowed that objections from the public will be addressed via a multi-sectoral dialogue on October 9.
She said the inputs there will be noted in the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations of the law. She said the IRR will "clarify and harmonize the so-called objectionable portions in the law."
"We will gradually handle this matter and very prudently because of the objections being raised and pending petitions. So even without TRO (temporary restraining order from the SC), perhaps our implementation will not be immediately full-blown," she told reporters.