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Monday, October 8, 2012

The unconstitutionality of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

Bill of Rights' section 5 of the Philippine Constitution clearly states: "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances." While I must agree with the fact that in every freedom comes a responsibility, Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 failed to clearly define some of its provisions which, in one way or another and directly or indirectly, violate our constitutional rights. These provisions, being too broad or too vague, are the following:

Section 4 paragraph 4. It makes libel a cybercrime, if committed online;

Section 5. It punishes any person who aids or abets the commission of any cybercrime, even if it is only through Facebook or Twitter;

Section 6. It adopts the entire Penal Code, if the crime is committed by the use of information technology, but the penalty shall be one degree higher;

Section 7. It makes the same crime punishable, both under the Penal Code and the Cybercrime Act;

Section 19. It authorizes the Department of Justice to issue an order to restrict access to computer data which is found to be prima facie in violation of the new law.

Signed by no other than the president himself, Benigno Aquino III on September 12 of this year, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, tasked to fight identity theft, online ph0rnography, hacking, and spamming, is, in today's world, in fact, a necessity. But our lawmakers must be extra careful, deliberate, clear, and specific in defining what it is they all want to pass into a law about. Otherwise, it will only show how much ignorant they have become for their own laws and "ignorantia juris neminem excusat". Cybercrime law needs to be done again. I would like to think, though, that this law is not acceptable in a modern democracy in its present form.


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