VARIOUS petitioners against the controversial Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) gathered on Saturday to assail the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision on the law, saying that the high court’s ruling is “pock–marked with several erroneous decisions that pose even greater danger for Internet freedom.”
In the #NotoCybercrime Law Assembly arranged by youth group Kabataan party-list and Bloggers and Netizens for Democracy, petitioners re–presenting students, academi–cians, the media, Internet ad–vocates, bloggers, lawmakers and various other sectors of society expressed concerns over the court’s recent ruling.
The petitioners have an–nounced that they would file individual or joint motions for reconsideration before the court.
Rep. Terry Ridon, the legal counsel for the petition of the group of students, campus journ–alists, and academicians that assailed the Cybercrime Law, expressed grave concern over the court decision, saying that the ruling “shows how little our justices understand the Internet.”
Apart from voicing his dis–agreement with the ruling on online libel, that Ridon earlier said would “pose imminent threats not only to journalists but to Internet users at large,” the young lawyer—now a legislator at the Lower House—also explained that several other portions of the court’s decision poses “grave threats to Internet freedom.”Ridon said that upholding the consti–tutionality of Sections 6, 13, 14, 15, and 17 would also largely affect Internet activity and restrict the relative freedom Internet users currently enjoy.
In its decision, the high court upheld the constitutionality of Section 6 that imposes penalties one degree higher when crimes defined under the Revised Penal Code are committed with the use of information and commu–nications technologies by explaining that “in using the technology in question, the offender often evades identi–fication and is able to reach far more victims or cause greater harm. The distinction, therefore, creates a basis for higher pe–nalties for cyber crimes.”
Section 6 of RA 10175 states, “All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act, provided that the penalty to be imposed shall be one degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
“The SC fails to realize the broad ramifications of this provision. Through Section 6, it is presumed that all crimes committed with the use of information and communi–cations technology (ICT) would automatically be graver than if the crime was committed in the real world. The problem lies in interpreting what constitutes crimes using ICT,” Ridon explained.
“If you get serious physical injuries because you were hit by a laptop or a keyboard, does that fall under Section 6? The SC ruling is silent on this,” Ridon elaborated.
The militant youth lawmaker also assailed the decision to uphold Sections 14, 15, and 17.
Section 14 that authorizes the disclosure of computer data while Section 15 authorizes the search, seizure, and exami–nation of computer data, both with the issuance of a court-issued warrant.
According to the decision, both provisions are constitutional and “do not pose any threat on the rights of the person from whom they were taken” as disclosure, search, and seizure can only be done after judicial intervention.
“What the high court fails to realize is that under these sections, Internet service providers can be compelled by the government to produce all available data for any particular subscriber. This means all your private correspondence and communications you send can be used against you in court. All e-mails, text messages, and other correspondence. This can be used as justification for service providers to track and keep records of communications and can provide cover for covert Internet snooping,” Ridon said.