SENATOR Miriam Santiago on Wednesday filed a bill replacing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 with a more “realistic” law protecting the rights and freedoms of Filipinos in cyberspace while penalizing cyber criminals.
Santiago said Senate Bill 53, or the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) will be an improvement on Republic Act 10175 which she said confined the Philippines to 20th century capabilities.
“Laws that have an impact on cyberspace must address the realities of the present and the challenges of the future,” she said.
One of the main features of Santiago’s measure is making libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act as stated in the cybercrime prevention law.
RA 10175 not only treats cyber libel as a criminal offense but also imposes a higher penalty than what was prescribed under the Revised Penal Code.
The particular provision in the cybercrime prevention act has been vehemently opposed by netizens who see it as a violation of their constitutional rights.
Santiago said SB 53 upholds the right to free speech of Filipinos in cyberspace.
“The MCPIF treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act. It is not overbroad or vague in its provisions on libel, unlike the cybercrime law,” she said.
If passed into law, SB 53 will be the first law to be created through “crowdsourcing”, an online process of getting work done by tapping people on the Internet who volunteer their talent and skills.
According to Santiago, a group of netizens— software designers, IT specialists, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, human rights advocates—approached her office with a draft of the MCPIF.
The group formulated the MCPIF through discussions in an open Facebook group, email, Google Hangout teleconferences, and social media channels like Twitter.
“I call on all our young people to voice their support for this bill through social media. You are our new opinion-leaders. After the RH Bill, we saw how powerful social media can be in advancing our causes,” Santiago said.