PODCAST | Cyber lawyer JJ Disini says music industry jumpstarted career in ICT law

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Lawyer Jose Jesus (JJ) Disini shared his experiences and insights as one of the country’s leading experts in information and communications technology (ICT) law during his guest appearance in the latest episode of the new podcast IN BETWEEN presented by Tech Sabado and Newsbytes.PH.

Known for his expertise in ICT law, Disini graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law and placed 7th in the 1993 Bar examination. He then taught at UP Law where he founded the first research program on Internet and society. He also has a masters degree from the Harvard Law School in the US.

So far, the highlights of his career as a cyber lawyer include the drafting the implementing rules and regulations for the E-Commerce Act and filing a petition in the Supreme Court — the landmark case Disini v. The Secretary of Justice — where he questioned the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

During the podcast, Disini recalled that it was his involvement as a legal practitioner in the music industry in the late ’90s that ignited his interest in technology law. During that time, he said the music industry was undergoing turmoil due to the emergence of digital file-sharing platforms such as Napster.

Disini, who was then a young lawyer working for a law firm, also became a member of the Philippine Internet Commerce Society (PICS) which further exposed him to technology law and eventually jumpstarted his practice in the field.

“I made a plan. I’m going to quit the firm, I’m going to set up my own law firm, I’m going to teach, and then do something I’ve never done before – organize a seminar where I’m going to talk about cyberspace. The other thing I was keen to do is what they call education marketing where you give lectures and educate people about your practice area,” Disini shared.  

Disini also recalled how the Philippine government was pressured in passing the E-Commerce Act in 2000, which had a penal provision against hacking, as a result of the infamous “I Love You” virus that infected more than 10 million Windows personal computers around the globe.

“When they traced the source of the I Love You virus back to the Philippines, which went through Europe and disabled a lot of systems including the computer systems of the Pentagon, the Philippine government took it personally. The US government sent FBI agents here and assisted NBI to do the forensics. At the time, they did not know what crime to charge. That’s why the E-Commerce Act was signed into law,” he said.

When asked about his future plans or projects in the pipeline, Disini replied that he plans to cut back on his legal practice and focus more on efforts that can help the public become aware on ICT and privacy laws. “I would love to focus more on things like teaching and doing more policy work,” he said.

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