The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which has recently been passed by the government in the Philippines now outlaws cybersex which it considers to be a cybercrime. The law also has a section on libel, which has raised serious concerns with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 describes cybersex as: “the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.”
Those convicted face a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison and a fine of up to 250,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000).
The law also makes ‘illegal access,’ ‘illegal interception of data,’ ‘spam’ and ‘cybersquatting’ illegal. Filipino nationals planning on leaving the country to escape this restrictive and rather harsh legislation will need another action plan. They have thought of that, the law “shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of this Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission.” Basically if you have a Filipino passport, they own you and your internet!
The new act will be enforced by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). They will set up a special cybercrime unit that will deal exclusively with cases that relate to the act. A special cybercrime court will also be introduced and the judges that preside over cases will be specially trained. There is a lot of ‘special’ going on here, but it remains to be seen with the legislators and investigators will actually be in the know or not.
The section of the law devoted to libel has caused a major stir, several freedom of speech advocates, the EFF and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines are afraid that it will just give the government all the power it needs to attack online speech and expression.