Philippines: Iron cyber-fist in faux democratic velvet glove

Media groups, Filipinos protest tough cyber law

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI | Associated PressFilipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday Oct. 3, 2012. Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls Wednesday for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect Wednesday despite last-minute petitions to the Supreme Court to stop it. The justices said they will take up the issue next week.

The law is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. But citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear politicians will use it to silence critics.

The law contains a provision that says libel — which is already punishable by up to six years in prison — is also a cybercrime. It doubles cumulative penalties for online offenses and allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.

Associated Press/Aaron Favila – Filipino journalists and some media group leaders hold their petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act as they submitted them to the Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines Continue reading