September 28, 2012
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has called on its member organizations to join the fight against the Cybercrime Prevention Act, saying that the new law signed by President Benigno Aquino III will violate the people’s constitutional rights. Posted on Bayan’s website bayan.ph was the group’s expression of support for free speech on the internet.
The group is also supporting a “day of action by netizens and citizens” on October 2, during the en banc session of the Supreme Court.
“The new cybercrime law reeks with potential violations of our constitutional rights including our right to privacy and right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The government will now have tremendous powers, including the collection of real-time traffic data based simply on ‘due cause’, search warrants based on ‘reasonable grounds’ and not probably cause, the blocking of access to websites and the forcible taking down of websites among others,” said Bayan secretary general.
The group said that the law was an assault on the constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“Imagine that the computer is your virtual “house, paper and effects” and contains all your private activities. Through this law, government can check in on your house and your activities, conduct searches based on ‘reasonable grounds’ (Sec.12), monitor your traffic data based on ‘due cause’ (Sec.12) and then take away your house or prevent you from accessing your own home (Sec.19),” Reyes added.
Bayan also finds worrisome the provisions of the law criminalizing online libel with a heavier penalty, calling it a regression in terms of protecting free speech on the internet.
“With admissions coming from lawmakers that the law is flawed, we are confident that the people’s opposition will succeed. We urge the Supreme Court to give due course to all the petitions filed and will be filed against the draconian cybercrime law,” Reyes said.
The group also assailed a seemingly-catch all provision in Section 6 of the law which states that “All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be”.
“Will we now have offenses such as inciting to sedition with the aid of a computer? Or rebellion committed via the internet? The potential for harassment suits against government critics is so huge under this law,” Reyes said. ###