Cybercrime law repressive for online activism–militants

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 18 September)—Militant groups here warned Tuesday that Republic Act (RA) 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 signed by President Benigno Aquino III last week can be used to repress online-based activism.


RA 10175 is an act defining cybercrime, providing for prevention, investigation, suppression and the imposition of penalties therefore and for other purposes.


Calling the law as a “Trojan Horse,” Juland Suazo, public information officer of Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, said in a text message the insertion of libel in the law as among the cybercrime offenses will be used to limit freedom of expression and to suppress telling of the truth in the internet.


From the Greek mythology, Trojan Horse has come to mean, according to the MacMillan Dictionary, someone or something that seems good or helpful to a person or organization but whose real purpose is to harm or destroy them.


Suazo said online reform advocates who will expose anomalies of government officials, military, police and corporations will resort to self-censorship to avoid being labeled or charged for cybercrime.


Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte reportedly said earlier that libel is also a punishable crime under RA 10175.


By inserting libel as among the cybercrimes, Suazo said the “greatest casualties of the law are transparency and the people’s right to know.”


Cybercrime offenses, stipulated in Section 4 of RA 10175, include offenses against confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and system. It particularly covers illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, and cyber-squatting.


In addition, the law considers forgery, fraud and identity theft as computer-related offenses. Content-related offenses are cyber sex, child pornography, and unsolicited commercial communications.


Other offenses, stipulated in Section 5 of the law, are aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime and attempt in the commission of cybercrime.


“Fighting child pornography and other cybercrimes are welcome. But fighting corruption and anti-people and anti-environment policies via online will be suppressed [by RA 10175], especially by the current regime which does not welcome legitimate feedback and criticisms,” Suazo said.


Cherry Orendain, Anakbayan Southern Mindanao spokesperson, described cybercrime law as the “electronic version of Martial Law or E-Martial Law.”


“It poses a risk to the critics of the government since it allows [the] prosecution [of] libel. It runs counter to Article 3 Section 1 (Bill of Rights), which allows freedom of speech online and a clear manifestation of the Aquino government’s dictatorship,” she told MindaNews.


Orendain stressed that internet has greatly influenced the means of communication and information gathering among the youth, and has become a major tool for propaganda aside from television, radio and print.


“Progressive youth groups like Anakbayan consider internet as an important tool to educate the people and at the same time to expose and oppose the inutility and fascism of the Aquino administration,” she added. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)