A few weeks ago, the country was shocked due to the sudden implementation of RA 1015 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. I seldom watch the news but I found out about the law after my mom warned me to be careful of what I post online. I was surprised because my mom has never told me that before. I figured it wasn’t much of a big deal so I shrugged off my mom’s warning. However, as the news about the bill began to spread, a lot of people started to express their opposition to the newly-implemented law. I began to realize that this act was actually a really big deal.
I was astounded after reading some explanations as to why the bill shouldn’t be implemented. Why would the government pass a law that hampers democracy? How come only one senator noticed the flaws and loopholes of the bill? I saw a post as to why Senator TG Guingona opposed the said law. First of all, the provisions in the law are vague and unclear. Virtually anyone can be liable and be charged with crime. Second, the punishment is too grave and unfair. A 12-year sentence? That’s too much. Third, it’s oppressive. You can be charged with two counts of libel, one under the Revised Penal Code and the second under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
As a student, this law gravely affects me. We all know that many adolescents are very active on the internet. I’m an active netizen as well and because some of the provisions on the law are vague and unclear, I could be charged with crime, even if I just retweet, like or share posts containing criticisms. Second, isn’t a basic human right to be able to express one’s self freely? The Philippines is a democratic country and this law simply curtails freedom of expression. However, the Cybercrime Prevention Act is not all that bad. It’s actually good that we finally have a law that aims to prevent cyber crime in the country.
After several cases of unsolved internet crimes (resulting to online criminals not being penalized for their crimes), it’s about time that we have a law for this issue. Its objective is to protect netizens from becoming victims of online crimes but because of certain provisions, the bill becomes an obstacle for freedom of speech. Another good thing about the bill is the establishment of a Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center. It will enable qualified officials to go after people who commit online crimes and file a case against them. The opposing views of the act are those against it and those who are in favor of the bill.
There are also those who believe that we need this law but don’t agree on certain provisions stated in the law. Yes, we do need a Cybercrime Prevention Law but the problem with this bill is that it lacks or is obscure in certain areas. It’s not perfect and it needs to be improved. It may even be subject to misunderstanding and abuse due to the vagueness of the provisions. If I had the power to reconcile these opposing views, I would first hear out everyone’s perspective regarding this bill. This would allow me to know what necessary changes should be made to the law.
The bottom line is, the bill needs to be revised. A law has to be clear and specific before it is passed and implemented. The only way to fix this issue is to improve and make the law better. Certain areas need to be changed and the changes to be made must be acceptable for all, especially the citizens. We cannot deny that the internet has had a huge impact on our daily lives. It is a symbol of humankind’s advancement and development. It is a vast source of data and information. It has allowed people to communicate with individuals who are far away from them.
It empowers people because it is an outlet and platform for us to speak our minds and express our opinions. In more ways than one, it has improved our lives and made it easier. Although it is a valuable research and learning tool, we also cannot contradict that there are individuals who exploit the freedom they have on the internet. There is a need for a Cybercrime Prevention Law because the internet can also be used to commit crimes. However, individuals should also practice being responsible of what they say and do online. Like what my professor said, it’s a matter of personal responsibility. Think before you post.