ICTO to convene body for Cybercrime law guidelines in October

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) said Friday it will be convening a body in October that will be drafting the guidelines for implementation of the new Cybercrime law.

Officials said they will be receiving private sector and academe nominations next week for members of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), the body charged with coming up with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The controversial law, which has stirred strong oppositions from media groups and Filipino Internet users, seeks to penalize cybercrimes such as hacking, spamming, cybersex, and Internet libel, among others.

The CICC will be composed of the ICTO Executive Director as Chairperson; Director of the NBI as Vice Chairperson; the Chief of the PNP; Head of the DOJ Office of Cybercrime; and one representative from the private sector and the academe each, as members.

“The same process of transparency and accountability that we used to select members of the Comelec Advisory Council will be used in the selection process for the academe and private sector members of the CICC,” ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre said.

As member of the CICC, private sector and academe representatives will be able to raise concerns about the new Cybercrime law and suggest safeguards against potential abuse for inclusion in the IRR.

Casambre said they are looking to convene the body by the first week of October to get the ball rolling on drafting the Cybercrime law’s IRR.

The ICTO official, meanwhile, stressed that they have taken into account the “controversial provisions in the new law,” especially the clause on Internet libel, which imposes graver penalties than libel offenses committed offline.

Casambre said they will be holding “consultative meetings with various stakeholders and ensure that the IRR” will not stifle basic human rights, not least of which is Internet users’ freedom of speech and of expression.

“We totally understand the concerns of our netizens on this controversial issue, and we hope to address this when we start drafting the IRR,” he added.

Signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 seeks to curb the increasing incidents of cybercrimes in the country, particularly those involved in organized cybercrime syndicates.

Violators face a punishment of prison mayor or reclusion temporal and/or a fine (between P200,000 to P1,000,000) depending on the offense as stated under the new law.

The Cybercrime bill is the second consecutive ICT-related bill signed by the administration into law, following the enactment of the Data Privacy Act in August.