Seven Effects of the Supreme Court Decision on the Cybercrime Law

Today the Supreme Court of the Philippines has rendered its decision on the Cybercrime Law – declaring the following ( taken from the FB status Supreme Court Spokesman Atty Ted Te):

The Court declared the following provisions of RA 10175 (Cybercrime Act) as UNCONSTITUTIONAL, either wholly or “contextually” (in relation to a situation or another provision):

1. Sec. 4(c)(3) (Unsolicited Commercial Communications)
2. Sec. 12 (Real time collection of traffic data)
3, Sec. 19 (Restricting or blocking access to computer data)
4. Sec. 4(c)(4) (online libel- only where it penalises those who simply receive the post or react to it) but NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL as far as the original author is concerned.
5. Sec. 5 (aiding or abetting in the commission of a cybercrime/attempt to commit a cybercrime) only in relation to secs. 4(c)(2) (child pornography), 4(c)(3) (unsolicited commercial communications) and 4(c)(4) (libel);
6. Sec. 7 (liability under other laws) only in relation to secs. 4(c)(4) (libel) and 4(c)(2) (child pornography).

All other provisions not so declared by the Court are considered NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The point of contention in this development is that online libel cannot be applied against those who receive or react to a post in other words the crime of libel is limited to its author. The debates and legal battles will begin again i am sure. What though are the effects of this ruling.

First, The number of online libel will increase, possibly coupled with offline libel. Providing a double whammy – unless this was addressed in the SC decision.

Second, The number of netizens will be using pseudonyms and pen names to get their message across.

Third, The number of TOR browser users will increase.

Fourth, Social commentary will be the same, although one might see an increase in cryptic posts and posts with wit. Those who hope that this may curb social commentary will be sadly mistaken. If anything this will increase social commentary.

Five, the Internet Freedom rating of the Philippines will slide again. A perfect example of a backward slide in the democracy ladder.

Six, Somewhere a government satrap and a member of congress will be thinking of ways to control the people on the net again. All in the name of country and safety and not personal ambition and hatred for freedom of expression.

Seven, The idea that the Supremes are not supreme. And one is reminded of a not so old man who had two wives. The first wife hated his white hair and everyday she would pluck them out. While the second wife hated his black hair and everyday she would pluck them out. And no sooner than you can say Supreme Court Decision the not so old man became known as the bald man.

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