THE Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday gave the government the go signal to fully implement the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, also known as Republic Act No. 10175.
The SC upheld the constitutionality of online libel but ruled as unconstitutional the powers given to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to block access to computer data.
The SC en banc, through Associate Justice Roberto Abad (Justices Velasco and Perlas-Bernabe took no part in the voting), declared as unconstitutional Sections 4 (c) (3), 12, and 19 of Republic Act No. 101-75.
Section 4 (c) (3) penalizes the posting of unsolicited commercial communications, section 12 authorizes the collection or recording of traffic data in real-time, while Section 19 authorizes the DOJ to restrict or block access to suspected computer data.
The tribunal upheld the constitutionality of the law criminalizing online libel, which is perceived to be a curtailment of freedom of expression, but said only the author of the post or article shall be punished or prosecuted.
In its ruling, the court partially granted the relief sought in the 15 consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of the cybercrime law.
The court declared that Section 4 (c) (4), which penalizes online libel, is not unconstitutional with respect to the original author of the post but unconstitutional only where it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it.
The high court declared that “Section 5, which penalizes anyone who aids or abets the commission of cybercrimes and anyone who attempts the commission of cybercrimes, is not unconstitutional in relation to the commission of the following cyber-offenses: a. Illegal access under 4(a)(1); b. illegal interception under 4(a)(2); c. data interference under 4(a)3); d. System interference under 4(a)(4); misuse of devices under 4(a)(5); F. Cyber squatting under 4(a)(6); g. Computer-related fraud under 4(b)(1); h. Computer-related identity theft under 4(b)(3) and i. Cybersex under 4(c)(1), but unconstitutional only in relation to the offenses punished by 1. Child pornography under 4(c)(2); 2.
Unsolicited commercial communications under 4(c)(3); and online libel under 4(c)(4).”
The court also ruled that Section 7, or the provision on prosecution under the Revised Penal Code as well as under RA 10175, is unconstitutional as far as it authorizes the prosecution of an offender under both section 4(c)(4) (online libel) and Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (libel), and also where it pertains to section 4(c)(2) (child pornography) for being in violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy.
The cybercrime measure was signed into law by President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd on September 12, 2012 to address legal issues concerning online interactions and the internet in the Philippines.
These online interactions include cybersquatting, cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, illegal access to data, and internet libel.