February 2, 2012
ANGARA: ANTI-CYBERCRIME BILL IS NO SOPA
Senator Edgardo J. Angara emphasized that the anti-cybercrime bill is not a threat to basic freedoms and will, rather, protect them from abuse on cyberspace.
Voting 13-1, the Senate approved on Third Reading the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Senate Bill No. 2796) which establishes a legal framework for the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of such Internet-related crimes as identity theft, fraud, hacking and child pornography.
"This bill is the product of collaboration not only among my fellow lawmakers, but also with many experts and resource persons," said Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.
"Throughout the process of crafting the measure, we conducted public hearings and consulted the appropriate government agencies like the DOJ [Department of Justice], the PNP [Philippine National Police], the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation], and DOST-ICTO [Information and Communications Technology Office, formerly the Commission on Information and Communications Technology]," he explained.
"We even tapped top-notch IT lawyers and members of the Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team [PH-CERT], which is a private sector endeavor."
Angara stressed that he was especially mindful about protecting civil rights and freedoms of enshrined in the Constitution.
"Some claim that the bill lends itself to abuse and leads to the encroachment of people's Internet rights. But by putting up a legal framework and laying down the foundations for due process, the measure actually safeguards our rights and extends their protection into our digital space," stressed Angara, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology, and Engineering (COMSTE).
"Likewise, by designating the roles of certain government agencies and creating new ones wherever appropriate, we provide a holistic national cybersecurity policy," he explained.
Angara cited forecasts from Kaspersky Labs showing that Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, will be one of the regions most vulnerable to cyberattacks in 2012.
He also noted pronouncements from PNP-CIDG Chief Director Samuel Pagdilao, Jr. that the country is becoming a safe haven for foreign cybercriminals, especially those involved in credit card fraud, identity theft, and in running illegal gambling rings and cybersex dens.
"Clearly, the freedoms we enjoy from high-speed connectivity coincide with expanded opportunities to commit crimes. I sponsored the bill precisely because real harm can be done," explained Angara.
"I understand many people are apprehensive on account of the global uproar caused by SOPA in the U.S. But the Cybercrime Prevention Act is in no way its Filipino version, and should not be mistaken for it."
Angara noted that though the bill has been approved in the Senate, its counterpart measure is still pending in the House of Representatives. If passed, the measure will have to undergo bicameral review before it is forwarded to the President and signed into law.
"There is still time for us to make amendments," explained Angara. "But that also means we all have more time to study the measure more thoroughly and formally voice out our concerns. I am convinced that at the end of this process, we will be able to enact a law that meaningfully protects our cyberspace without hindering basic freedoms."