The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: The Only Things Non-Cybercriminals Need to Know About the CyberCrime Act
I got another Reader Request yesterday, this time on Facebook from Gem (one of my BFFs), who was wondering why everyone was going all “ROAR!”, “See ya in JAIL!”, etc. about the Philippines’ new Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The truth of the matter is, these laws and things are kind of a hassle to read (seriously, big YAWN…) so when I first heard about it, even I wanted someone to just give me the idiot-friendly version.
But no takers. BAH. Maybe I should’ve said please. So I guess it’s up to me and my doodles to take up the challenge. Sigh. So here goes…
There are only 3 things you really need to know about the Cybercrime Act — unless you actually are a nasty cybercriminal. (If so, you may want to read up a bit more, buddy. And put your lawyer on speed dial while you’re at it.)
The new Cybercrime Prevention Act aims to combat Internet-related offenses. The first thing everyone should know is that for the most part, it’s a good thing and it punishes some pretty heinous stuff:
(Also, internet fraud, identity theft,and blah blah blah… Read it if you want the deets. But YAWN.)
It was going along swimmingly, without the threat of netizens going up in arms about it until someone decided to add LIBEL to the list of cybercrimes at the last minute.
I will leave you to guess who that “someone” was. If you can’t, here’s a clue.
So okay at this point you might be wondering why the whole libel thing has everyone going all nuts, when it should really only threaten journalists, online news providers, political bloggers and so on…
Well, it doesn’t.
…which brings us to THE UGLY (a.k.a. the reason bloggers and snarky social media peeps are going bananas…)
The libel clause in the Cybercrime Prevention act is vague, carries a higher sentence than non-electronic libel and threatens freedom of expression.
Since the Philippines leads the rest of the world in terms of Facebook and Twitter usage, this means that unlike ordinary libel complaints which are oftentimes brought against printed newspapers — given the element of publication — any user of these leading social media tools is now liable for prosecution since the fact that an allegedly libelous writing appeared on the internet is already sufficient to prove the element of publication. - Harry Roque on Rappler
According to Harry:
…electronic libel is now punished with imprisonment from 6 years and one day to up to 12 years, while those convicted for ordinary libel under the RPC are subject to imprisonment only from 6 months and one day to four years and two months. And because parole, a means by which a convict may be spared from actual imprisonment may be granted only to those sentenced to serve a prison term for no more than 6 months and one day, anyone convicted for cyber libel will inevitably serve a prison term.
BAH, right? Also, GAH!
And the worst part of this suckazoid sandwich is that even before this electronic libel fiasco, Philippine libel laws were already crappy and unfair to begin with.
So basically any loser who thinks you’re being malicious can just sue you for libel - even if you’re just stating a fact.
Okay FINE. My fact-checking frenemy Estevan (see comments below) says this has been revised - but I just couldn’t bring myself to delete the drawings.
But there’s this:
Also troubling is the fact that, in the Philippines, libel cases are determined not on the basis of what the writer of the alleged libel means, but what the words used by him mean, leaving room for interpretation. - Jillian York, Electronic Frontier Foundation
So yeah, that’s a problem. If we don’t watch what we say from this point onward, we’re all potential residents of Bilibid or someplace similar now if someone doesn’t do something about this.
…Which is why, in preparation, I’ve already started a PRISON GANG with some of my pals on Twitter.
Who wants to join? :)
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