Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a far-ranging piece of legislation that was passed by the Senate in June and made official last week. A government official said that the new law is
intended to curtail a number of offenses frequently committed on the internet, but that it also prohibits certain content-related behavior.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that punishable acts under the new law include offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data system, illegal access, illegal interception,
data interference, system interference and misuse of devices.
The law also includes offenses such as computer-related forgery, fraud, libel and identity theft, as well as content-related offenses such as cybersex and child pornography.
The Act is particularly miserable in sections defining banning webcam girls, sex video chat or cybersex. The act defines cybersex as the wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of
sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration .
The law states that the regional trial court shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of this Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission... if any of the elements was
committed within the Philippines .
Anyone breaking the law faces a fine of 250,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000; £ 3,700) and a jail term of up to six months.
One of the authors of the law, senator Edgardo Angara, said the act was needed to detect, investigate and suppress cybercrime such as hacking, cybersex, identity theft, spamming, and child pornography online.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police are now meant to set up a cybercrime unit to exclusively handle cases involving violations of this act . To deal with these cases, the authorities are planning to create
cybercrime courts with specially trained judges.
Philippine media organisations have expressed concerns that it may also be used to curb press freedom because it lists internet libel as cybercrime. According to the act, someone found guilty of libellous comments online, including comments made on
social networks and blogs, could be jailed for up to 12 years with no possibility of parole.