[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Philippine court suspends anti-cybercrime law
Supreme court issues temporary restraining order while it decides whether certain provisions violate civil liberties.
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2012 12:41
The Philippine Supreme Court suspended the law for 120 days and scheduled oral arguments for January 15 [EPA]

The Philippine Supreme Court has suspended implementation of the country's anti-cybercrime law while it decides whether certain provisions violate civil liberties.

The law aims to combat internet crimes such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography.

Journalists and rights groups oppose the law because it also makes online libel a crime, with double the normal penalty, and because it blocks access to websites deemed to violate the law.

They fear such provisions will be used by politicians to silence critics, and say the law also violates freedom of expression and due process.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday that the court had issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from enforcing the law signed by President Benigno Aquino III last month.

The law took effect last week but there has been no report of anyone being charged with violating it.

The court suspended the law for 120 days and scheduled oral arguments for January 15.

It also ordered the government to respond within 10 days to 15 petitions seeking to declare the law unconstitutional.

Seriously flawed

Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, commended the court and urged it to "go further by striking down this seriously flawed law".

In one of the petitions filed with the court questioning the law's constitutionality, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it would "set back decades of struggle against the darkness of 'constitutional dictatorship' and replace it with 'cyber authoritarianism'".

Many Facebook and Twitter users, and the portals of several media organisations in the Philippines, have replaced their profile pictures with black screens to protest against the law.

Hackers also defaced several government websites in protest.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of the left-wing New Patriotic Alliance, another petitioner, said the court's order was "a major victory for freedom and civil liberties".

Aquino has supported the online libel provision, saying people should be held responsible for their statements. But he has also said he is open to lowering the penalties.

Several legislators, including some who approved the law, have said they will try to amend the legislation to address civil-rights concerns.

356

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.