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Philippine high court stops cyber law
Publication Date : 09-10-2012
The Philippine Supreme Court stopped for 120 days the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
At the same time, the high court has set an oral argument on January 15 to hear both parties for and against the law.
During Tuesday’s full court deliberation, the high court justices unanimously issued a temporary restraining order after it was flooded by petitions assailing the constitutionality of several provisions of the said law.
A total of 15 petitions from various organisations told the high court that several provisions of violates the 1987 Constitution specifically the provisions on freedom of speech, equal protection of the law, right to privacy, illegal searches and seizures, double jeopardy.
The law is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. But citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear politicians will use it to silence critics.
The law contains a provision that says libel — which is already punishable by up to six years in prison — is also a cybercrime. It doubles cumulative penalties for online offenses and allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.
Human rights and media groups have unsuccessfully campaigned for years to downgrade libel from a criminal to a civil offence, saying politicians often use the law to harass journalists and other critics.
Many Facebook and Twitter users in the Philippines and the portals of the main media organisations have replaced their profile pictures with black screens as a protest against the law. With Associated Press