Anti-cybercrime law will not be used against journalists—CIDGBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Trust us, we will not spy on journalists or try to curtail press freedom.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) made this assurance on Tuesday to allay fears that members of the media and bloggers would be harassed by the government under the newly enacted anti-cybercrime law passed by Congress.
Speaking in a news briefing, CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. maintained that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, or Republic Act 10175, did not authorize law enforcement agencies to spy on journalists and critics of the government.
“There will be no surveillance of journalists or other individuals,” Pagdilao told reporters at Camp Crame.
“If there is no complainant, we will not initiate investigation on our own. When someone comes to us for grievance, rest assured (that we will observe) fairness,” he said.
“Trust us. We are CIDG,” he added, noting that the agency had not been accused of any wrongdoing since his office started its crackdown on Internet-related crimes two years ago.
Pagdilao, a lawyer, said the “batting average” of libel cases that resulted in a conviction of accused journalists was not significant anyway.
“If you look at libel cases filed (against) members of the media, they hardly prosper (in courts). I think that would also be the case under this law,” he said.
Senior Inspector Roberto Reyes, CIDG computer forensic investigator, said the police would need to secure a court-issued warrant first before accessing the email address, computer and other electronic devices of an individual accused of violating the law.
Reyes said the CIDG and other law enforcement offices tasked to implement the law did not have the equipment to monitor all the exchanges of information in the Internet.
“Our actions will be complaint-based. If there is no complaint, there’s no reason for us to monitor,” he said.
“What we will monitor are the hackers who are involve in computer intrusion and systems intrusion,” Reyes added.
While he acknowledged that the provision on libel has been the most contentious portion of the law, Pagdilao said the measure would greatly help the government in going after syndicates involved in scams, cyber pornography and other computer crimes.
“This is a step forward as far as we are concerned… This is a positive act and this is going to give us an arm or tool by which the law enforcement sector can prevent and fight cybercrimes that are already in our midst,” he said.