Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Senate Anti-Cybercrime Bill And The I-Cafés

The Philippine Senate, by a vote of 13 in favor and 1 against, finally approved their version of the Anti-Cybercrime Bill (Senate Bill 2796) last January 30, 2012. The bill, among the items in its Section 3 - Definition of Terms refers to "Service Provider" as:

1)  any public or private entity that provides to users of its service the ability to communicate by means of a computer system; and

2)  any other entity that processes or stores computer data on behalf of such communication service or users of such service.

Based on the above definitions, i-cafés clearly fall under no.1 and as a service provider will be liable to Punishable Acts under Chapter II, Section 4 on Cybercrime Offenses, specifically Item 6 about Misuse of Devices that says:

a)  The use, production, sale, procurement, importation, distribution, or otherwise making available, without right, of:

i.  a device, including a computer program, designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act; or

ii. a computer password, access code, or similar data by which the whole or any part of a computer system is capable of being accessed with intent that it be used for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act;.

b)  The possession of an item referred to in paragraphs 6(a)(i) or (ii) above with intent to use said devices for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this section.

For clarity, under the approved Senate bill "Without Right" refers to either:

(i)  conduct undertaken without or in excess of authority; or

(ii) conduct not covered by established legal defenses, excuses, court orders, justifications, or relevant principles under the law.

I am not a lawyer but if the above provisions are strictly implemented, I take it to cover the violations of i-cafés in using pirated software. Although we know that there is already the Intellectual Property Code that penalizes software piracy, it is an open secret that many i-cafés continue to violate the law.

There are other provisions in the approved Senate Anti-Cybercrime Bills that could apply to i-cafés such as the Content-related Offenses on Cybersex and Child Pornography. Likewise, i-café owners can be held liable for Computer-related offenses (computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud) when the violations are traced to have happened in their business places.

By the way, Senate Bill 2796 provides for penalties of PhP200,000 to PhP1.25 million and imprisonment of up to 12 years. If you feel that there are undue provisions in the proposed Anti-Cybercrime Law, the time to act is now. Do not allow what happened in the Anti-Child Pornography Act where we voiced out our objections during the promulgation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations. It could be late in time again.

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