President Benigno Aquino III has signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, transforming the bill into a law more than four months after the approval of House of Representatives.
Louis Casambre, executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), confirmed to Newsbytes Philippines, which first posted the story, that Aquino signed the legislation on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.
Cybercrime Prevention Act is “an act defining cybercrime, providing for prevention, investigation and imposition of penalties therefore and for other purposes”.
The House of Representatives noted on its website that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 will “enable the State to adopt sufficient powers to effectively 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 Act was filed by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology. It was approved by the Senate on January and by the House of Representatives on May.
Prior to its enactment, the act received objections, the most prominent one coming from Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palantion who claimed that “some provisions of the proposed legislation were “vague and overly-broad that it may criminalize ordinary electronic activities of Internet users”.
According to InterAksyon, Pres. Aquino was pressured by Sen. Angara to sign the bill when local law enforcers busted the operation of what was considered to be the largest cybercrime group in the country late last August. They have arrested a total of 357 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals who were reported to have defrauded at least P20 million a day during their operation.
“These operations have made it very clear that cybercrime does not have any place in the Philippines,” said Angara, in a statement. “We can only laud the resolute and single-minded efforts of the government,” he added.
“We need to give our law enforcement agencies not just the authority but also the capacity to tackle this new problem. And we need to do so fast as cybercrimes grow more sophisticated and complex along with the evolution of technology,” Angara emphasized.
In an ABS-CBN update, De Lima has approved the deportation of the arrested Taiwanese after holding the offenders in a makeshift detention area for almost a month now. They will be deported minus the criminal charges De Lima initially wanted to file against them.
The latest approved version of the bill from the congress groups the offenses punishable under Cybercrime Prevention Act into three broad groups:
Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems (illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, and misuse of devices)
Computer-related offenses (computer forgery, computer-related fraud, and computer-related identity theft)
The act sets the penalty of prision mayor (six months to six years in prison) or a fine of PhP 200,000 for the commission of cybercrime acts under the first two groups; while the penalty of arresto mayor (up to six months in prison) or a fine of PhP 250,000 or both is set for the commission of unsolicited commercial communications, also known as spamming.
The act will also pave way to the creation of Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) that will formulate and implement a national cyber security plan.