Cybercrime Law in the Philippines | Brief Synopsis
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The Philippines’ legal framework for cybercrime and electronic evidence is substantially consistent with the Budapest Convention, with the Cybercrime Prevention Act taking effect in February 2014.

The Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 10175,1 often known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,” which addresses all types of cybercrime committed against and by means of computer system on September 12, 2012.

It contains substantive penal regulations, procedural courses of action, and international cooperation rules. In the Philippines, amendatory bills on cybercrime investigations are always on hindsight, with contemporary provisions on procedural powers, obligations, and extradition being continuously explored.

The dynamism of information technology likewise necessitates constant evolution on the legal approaches that may be subsequently needed as a result of the emergence of novel situations.

The modifications are intended to give prosecutors and investigators with a structured approach to cybercrime probes and to further align national legislation with the Budapest Convention.

The Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 focuses on preventing, detecting, and prosecuting cybercrimes such as offenses against the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer data and systems, as well as computer-related and content-related offenses.

Furthermore, Section 6 of the Act states that any crimes specified and punished by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws that are committed by, through, or with the use of information and communications technology are covered by the Revised Penal Code’s applicable provisions.

It is provided, however, that the penalty imposed shall be one degree greater than that imposed under the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special legislation, as applicable.

Furthermore, Section 7 of the Cybercrime Act states that any prosecution under the Act is without prejudice to any culpability for violating any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.

What is cybercrime law all about?

Cybercrime law establishes standards of acceptable behavior for users of information and communication technology (ICT).

It protects ICT users in general, and mitigates and/or prevents harm to people, data, systems, services, and infrastructure in particular; protects human rights.

This modern day law enables the investigation and prosecution of online crimes and promotes international cooperation on cybercrime issues.

The usage of the internet, computers, and similar digital technology, as well as the acts of the public, government, and commercial sector, are governed by cybercrime legislation, which includes rules of proof and criminal procedure, and other cybercrime-related criminal justice issues.

This statute [Cybercrime Law], as well, provides regulation in order to decrease risk and/or ameliorate the harm caused to persons, businesses, and infrastructure in the event of a cybercrime. As a result, cybercrime law includes substantive, procedural, and preventive.

The State’s awareness of the information and communications sectors’ critical role in the nation’s overall social and economic growth, as well as the necessity to preserve and safeguard computer systems and networks from all types of misuse, abuse, and unlawful access.

The transgressions against computer data and systems’ confidentiality, integrity, and availability. This category includes offenses such as unauthorized access to a computer system or unauthorized access to a computer, as well as cybersquatting, or the acquisition of a domain name in bad faith in order to profit, mislead, and destroy reputation, as well as preventing others from registering the name.

What is the punishment of cybercrime?

As stated above, this cybercrime law is punitive in nature. Thus, the Act punishes anyone who tries to commit a cybercrime, or who intentionally abets or assists in the conduct of a cybercrime, as defined and penalized under the law itself or in relation to the Revised Penal Code.

Furthermore, the Act states that all crimes listed under current laws shall be covered by the Act’s applicable provisions if they are committed through and with the use of information and communications technologies.

Cybercrime Libel | Online Libel

Several bills were presented shortly after the Cybercrime Prevention Act was signed into law in September 2012, with the goal of repealing key sections of Republic Act No. 10175, including the restrictions on online libel.

Such legislation aimed to address the issue of online libel, which was seen as a sort of online censorship in and of itself.

The Supreme Court ruled that online libel only applies to those who create or publish libelous content, not to those who read, comment to, like, or share it. A bill was introduced in the 17th Congress to evaluate these disputed issues that jeopardize the right to free speech.

Procedural Course of Action

The Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 also establishes procedural requirements for law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing and implementing2 the provisions.

To ensure that the technical nature of cybercrime and its prevention is prioritized, as well as the procedures for international cooperation, law enforcement authorities, specifically the computer or technology crime divisions responsible for cybercrime investigations, are required to submit timely and accurate reports.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the one who will handle the evaluation and monitoring, including pre-operation, post-operation, and investigation outcomes, as well as any other documentation that may be necessary.

The National Cybersecurity Plan has four main objectives:

(1) ensuring the continuous operation of the nation’s critical information infrastructures, public and military networks;

(2) implementing cyber resiliency measures to improve the ability to respond to threats before, during, and after attacks;

(3) effective coordination with law enforcement agencies; and

(4) a cybersecurity-aware society.

Seizure Warrants | Cybercrime | Nutshell Discussion

As a necessary consequence of this cybercrime law is the adoption of cybercrime warrants. While our procedural rules govern and regulate the issuance of the commonly known search warrants, nonetheless, by the nature of the object of the seizure or the things to be seized, which are not tangible object, but virtual ones, such as electronic information, the present rules3 relating to regular search warrants may not be sufficient to address that situation of electronic data seizure.

Hence, when what is involved are electronic data, which are illegal in nature or operation and can be the object of search and seizure, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, as part of their rule-making power, promulgated4 A.M. No. 17-11-03-SC otherwise known as the Cybercrime Warrants.

  1. Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012[]
  2. Implementing Rules, Republic Act No. 10175[]
  3. Search and Seizure, Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure[]
  4. Rule on Cybercrime Warrants, A.M. No. 17-11-03-SC[]

RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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