Article: The Cybercrime Law and How It Affects Your Freedom of Expression
By: Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, News5
On September 12, 2012, President Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. It provides a number of provisions which penalize a number of acts which may be committed only by individuals who are deep in cyber-technology. It also provides provisions which may put anybody, computer-savvy or not, in trouble of ending up in prison.
I would rather talk about the latter implications of the new law because they involve the members of the general public who probably may not even know that, in writing something in their computer, they may already be committing an act that may put them behind bars. These provisions may infringe their constitutional freedom of expression.
Section 4 (4) of the Cybercrime law provides that "the unlawful and prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future." Libel is a content-related offense that can be committed by just about anybody using the computer.
Libel is defined in Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) as a "public imputation and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstances tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead."
"Public" means that the imputation was heard, read or seen by somebody else, regardless of number, other than the person to whom the imputation was directed. Article 355 provides that this can be committed "by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means". Libel is punishable by imprisonment that can last as long as 4 years and 2 months in...