House approves bill against cybercrime

The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading a bill that defines and punishes cybercrime, completing the triumvirate of ICT legislations that Congress has approved this year.

The Senate passed its version of the cybercrime bill last January, before proceeding to approve the data privacy and DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) bills.

The upper chamber’s swift action on the three ICT bills despite the impeachment proceedings put the pressure on the House to pass the cybercrime bill although it earlier approved its version of the data privacy and DICT bills.

In the legislative process, a bill must be passed by both houses of Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives – before it can be signed into law by the president.

House Bill 5808 was authored by Reps. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), Eric Owen Singson, Jr. (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Marcelino Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City) and Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora).

HB 5808, also known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,” will allow the government “to adopt sufficient powers to prevent and combat all forms of misuse, abuse and illegal access by facilitating their detection, investigation, arrest and prosecution at both the domestic and international levels, and by providing arrangements for fast and reliable international cooperation.”

The bill also seeks the creation of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President to formulate and implement a national cyber security plan.

Offenses punishable under the measure are those against confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems such as illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, and misuse of devices.

Computer-related offenses such as computer forgery and computer-related fraud and content-related offenses which include cybersex, unsolicited commercial communication, cyber defamation, and cyber threats are also punishable under the measure.

Likewise, aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime and attempt to commit cybercrime are liable to be punished under the proposed law.

Penalty for the commission of offenses against confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems and those that are computer-related is prision mayor or a fine of P200,000.

Cybersex offense is punishable by prision mayor or a fine of P1,000,000 or both while child pornography offense is meted with a penalty of reclusion temporal or a fine of P1,250,000.

Furthermore, unsolicited commercial communications offense is punishable with arresto mayor or a fine of P250,000 or both.

The bill was passed by the lower chamber despite some objections by some House members, particularly Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino and civil society members who claimed that some provisions of the proposed legislation were “vague and overly-broad that it may criminalize ordinary electronic activities of Internet users.”

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