Friday, October 5, 2012

Cybercrime Law and its controversies


Alright!

Now, we have this latest law to talk about, worry perhaps?Hmmmm...Republic Act No.10175, famously known as Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, is signed into law last September 12, 2012. And since it is already a law, anybody caught committing a cybercrime could be criminally charged in court!Arggghhh.

So what's this law all about?Why there's a fuss? Who would be affected?Are bloggers and columnists are in danger?

As a blogger who maintained blogs and post several articles online, I am anxious and deeply bothered with this law and how this would affect the style of my writing hehe!

Since libel is one of the criminal offenses included in the bill, I should be careful now in attacking famous personalities, my question is : Am I not allowed to criticize..uhmmm...Kate Middleton?^___^  Thank God she is not a resident of the Philippines.

I am also afraid that I cannot download images anymore for my blogs due to the provision of "illegal access"  in the Cybercrime Law.

Looking back on how this law should be abided and treated, I researched several articles online what are the contents of this law so that I know where to put my best foot forward without stumbling on the land mine of troubles.

Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 covers lurid internet offenses such as:
  • Cybersquatting - also known as domain squatting. Well, I agree on this, it is very beneficial to bloggers and site owners. Now, I can sue anybody who will squat my domain in bad faith. This is nothing new to the world, the United States already has Anticybersquatting. This means that anybody could be charged criminally if they would use somebody's (abandoned or inactive) website in bad faith---example posting pornography contents or doing illegal activities -- or selling it to others at high price.
  • Cybersex - graphically refers to virtual sex encounter where two or more persons are connected remotely via computer network. This includes sending sexually explicit messages online. Doing something racy online is also categorized as cybersex. So exhibitionists take note.
  • Child Pornography - refers to images, film, shows and writing of sexual explicit activities involving children.
  • Identity Theft - Obviously this refers to someone who steal or assume other's identity. So to people who love to pretend they are Princess Diana or Prince Charles or Tom Cruise or Barack Obama your days are numbered!Well, according to the definition of "identity theft" you will be held liable if you are using a different name, assuming that identity as yours, using personal information, government-issued identification cards in order to access information or obtain credits without permission from the owners. 
  • Illegal Access - Oh well, almost everybody commits this offense. (Yeeeey! I am not included because I am not into downloading anything in the net, I find it tiring and waste if time). You commit this crime if you download someone's photo and post it to other's site in bad taste without his or her permission (Facebook users who are rude, irresponsible and impolite poking fun with other photos by posting it, be careful). It includes  illegal downloading copyrighted materials such as music, movies, shows. This is good because someone's work can be extremely protected.
  • Libel - also known as defamation. If someone slanders or maligns the government, religious belief, groups or individuals online which could badly damage the reputation and bring negative image then that someone could now be sued in court....and this is where all the protests and public reaction started.

Other people say that this provision should be amended and must be defined carefully,because it is very unclear and somewhat confusing. Under this provision, anyone who will be caught criticizing the government and public officials will now be charged with cybercrime.

This is largely beside the point because it could hamper one's freedom of expression. This provision should need to be modified (and not repealed as what other suggested) by emphasizing clearly what are libelous act and to what extent an offender should be penalized in court.

Almost everyone said their piece regarding the inclusion of libel.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, who was one of the senators who opposed the passage of this law, argued that the provision is so broad and vague that it's not even clear who should be liable for a given statement online. He said that under the provision, Facebook users and even Mark Zuckerberg (the FB founder) could now be charged with Cyber-libel due to the feature "sharing" and "liking" comments and posts.

Senatorial candidate, who happens to be the first cousin and namesake of the President, Bam Aquino, already talked to the latter to take a look on the libel provision as he understood the social networking culture of the new generation, the younger Aquino however did not disclose what was the answer of the President. 

But Senator Angara had answered on this. He said "merely stating one's opinion is not covered". Cybercrime Law states that "Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission or any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable". If a person is just merely commenting based on personal opinion and views he is not liable but if he is posting malicious and vicious comments or articles that could badly damage and ruin the dignity and reputation of individuals, groups, government and country then that's the time he would face criminal charges.

Angara continued that internet users who are merely "liking", "re-twitting" and "sharing" malicious posts, videos or comments, could not also be charged with Cybercrime, unless there's a proven conspiracy to ruin the image of a certain individual or group.

Nevertheless, the provision still creates a public fuss because it might be used by others to punish someone even though he is just presenting his personal views, so there's still a need with this provision to be amended.

Well, in my own opinion libel as part of the cybercrime is okay as long as it is defined clearly as to what extent the person could be held liable. For me, a person can commit this crime if he or she posts slanderous message/blogs/articles online that can badly hurt and damage the reputation and dignity of another person, organizations, nations or other groups. 

Vicious attack, malicious messages and comments are very rampant on the internet, as if they just came out from a bad fight, a gruesome experience that all they do is bully people online. There are really irresponsible internet users who are downright cruel, rude and impolite when posting comments, who are out of their senses criticizing and vilifying other sects, groups and individuals and these kind of people need to learn a hard lesson and deserve to be jailed. 

Slandering is different from merely stating your opinion. There's a world difference between expressing your freedom of expression by presenting your views against the act of attacking the person below the belt with unfounded accusations, ruining his reputation and tarnishing his dignity, these irresponsible and dull-witted individuals who committed that act must be charged in court with cyber-libel to teach them a lesson that refinement of character cannot be learned elsewhere, that what they are doing is actually abusing the good intention of "Freedom of Speech.

Here are the things to remember to avoid being landed in a hot water:

  • Act as a decent person when you interact online. 
  • Watch your actions. 
  • Don't abuse the fact that internet is for everybody and anything could be done online as you please, you are really an idiot from hell! 
  • Be careful with the words you utter and the things you share online.
  • Before posting a message, comment or articles, ask your conscience first if it is worthy to be posted or shared.
  • Be responsible not to share or like malicious and vicious messages.
  • Don't make excuses that you just want to air your grievances online or just want to exercise your freedom of expression. Ignorance of the Law excuses no one.
  • Don't hang online and join forums or comment on articles and posts if you are frustrated, depressed and in deep trouble and distress, there's a great chance that your comment will reflect the negative forces deep within you at the expense of other people.

Moral Lesson: If you don't want to be charged, then be responsible with your conduct online, be polite and observed social etiquette and good manners all the time, trust me, Cybercrime Law is nothing to worry about, it's just a matter of behaving and observing a proper social etiquette or you may choose to act irresponsibly, rudely and discourteously then suffer the consequences.

It's okay to criticize the government, the nation, politicians, other groups and individuals as long as you maintain refinement of character, respect and courtesy, a smart person does not talk garbage words..

Okay, now, after doing my research about Cybercrime Law and finding that I am safe as a blogger. I can now sleep well ^_____^

Update: News have it that the supreme court issued a temporary restraining order against the Cybercrime Law due to massive protests. Well, the law only needs to be amended and should not be junked totally, only the provision of libel needed certain forms of modification. The other provisions are fine, it is timely and it is for our protection -- Cybersex, Cybersquatting and Illegal Access to our photos by others and then post it elsewhere with ridiculous captions are serious internet crimes that should be given enough attention.



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