Legal Issues

by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
cybercrime, philippines

Philippine Government Ignores Public Concerns, Continues To Push Extreme 'Cybercrime' Law

from the not-listening dept

One of the striking -- and depressing -- features of the Internet today is the almost universal desire of governments around the world to rein it in through new laws. We wrote about one such attempt in the Philippines a couple of months ago, where the government is trying to bring in some particularly wide-ranging and troubling legislation. Although the Philippine Supreme Court put a temporary restraining order on the law, the Philippine government is not softening its stance, and has asked the court to lift the order. Its arguments are pretty worrying:

"there is always a presumption of validity that attaches to every legislative act"
Oh, really?
It also said the law only "regulates and penalizes" acts defined as cybercrimes like hacking, and does not prevent the petitioners from using the Internet and expressing their thoughts.
Well, that rather depends on how you define cybercrimes, of course.
The government said "traffic data" referred to in the Cybercrime Law is "non-content data" that consists of the origin, destination, route, time and date of the communication. It said that unlike content data, which is considered private, traffic data is an "auxiliary to the communication and is necessarily shared with a service provider who is a third party."
That is exactly the same erroneous argument used by the UK government to justify its Snooper's Charter. The problem is that some traffic data -- like destination Web addresses -- give considerable information about the content being viewed. For example, if people are visiting Web sites that are critical of the Philippine government, it's pretty clear what they are reading about.

The GMA News piece quoted above lists many other dubious arguments given by the Philippine government in favor of lifting the ban. Ironically, the way it dismisses or ignores the important issues raised by petitioners to the Supreme Court only serves to confirm the impression that the government is not really interested in achieving a fair and balanced solution here, but intends to push through its plans regardless.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and on Google+

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