MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that seeks to replace the controversial Anti-Cybercrime Law.
Santiago filed Senate Bill 3327 also known as the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF), which was proposed to the senator by a group of concerned netizens, including software designers, academics, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, etc. that will uphold freedom of expression in cyberspace.
“While it is important to crackdown on criminal activities on the Internet, protecting constitutional rights like free expression, privacy, and due process should hold a higher place in crafting laws,” Santiago said in a statement Friday.
“The MCPIF does not suffer from overbreadth and vagueness in its provisions on libel, unlike the law it tries to replace. In fact, it treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act, which is a step forward in the move to decriminalize libel,” the senator said.
She also said that the MCPIF would not be like the Anti-Cybercrime Law that allows for illegal searches and seizures by authorities.
“[The Anti-Cybercrime Law] violates the right to privacy and the Constitutional guarantee against illegal search and seizure through allowing the warrantless real-time collection of traffic data,” Santiago said.
“In contrast, the MCPIF ensures due process by providing strict guidelines for any collection of any data, including the securing of warrants, obligating notification, and limiting seizure to data and excluding physical property,” she said.
The government will also no longer be allowed to block website on its own. She will require a court order before authorities can takedown or censor Internet sites under the MCPIF, Santiago said.
“The dangerous ‘takedown’ clause of RA 10175, where the government may have a website or network blocked or restricted without due process of law, is absent in the MCPIF,” she said.
“My bill specifically provides for court proceedings in cases where websites or networks are to be taken down, and prohibits censorship of content without a court order,” Santiago added.
MCPIF also supports the creation of a new executive department for Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
“Because of the broad range of responsibilities related to the enforcement of laws governing ICT, a department-level office should be established and its functions and jurisdiction should be clear-cut,” the senator said.
Provisions in the MCPIF seek to better equip law enforcement and military personnel to help them combat cyberterrorism as well as to defend from cyberattacks from any hostile entity.
“We need to recognize that child pornography, child abuse, and human trafficking can be committed through the Internet, as much as hacking, piracy, and copyright infringement. We must define these evils in order for us to crush them,” Santiago said.