Cybercrime law covers text messages, says lawmaker

By: Allan Nawal, Germelina Lacorte, October 8th, 2012 05:33 PM

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Before you shoot off that text message to anyone, make sure it is not derogatory.

This, in essence, was the warning of Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño when he said that the cybercrime law, or Republic Act 10175, not only curtails the right of Internet users but also of cellphone users.

“Because it covers text messages and calls as well,” Casiño said in a statement e-mailed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The militant lawmaker said section 3c of the cybercrime law covers any medium of ICT media, including voice, video, and other forms of data.

Section 3d, he added, defines computers and computer system as “any type of computer device, including devices with data processing capabilities like mobile phones, smartphones, computer networks and other devices connected to the Internet.”

“This practically means that communications and data on any type of phone or ICT device are covered by this very repressive law,” Casiño said.

He said candidates who might try to put down an opponent via text messages, could find themselves in trouble.

“This means if I text my friends that a certain candidate is a ‘cheap, second-rate, trying-hard copycat,’ that person can haul me to court for violating the cybercrime law and have me locked up for 10 years,” Casiño said.

He said that while the case may not prosper, “the mere possibility that one can be charged for online libel is enough to silence ordinary people and stop them from expressing critical ideas.”

ICT industry players in Davao City could not agree more.

Samuel Matunog, vice president of the Davao ICT Inc., said the law can also potentially kill the bullish ICT sector.

Matunog said Section 19 of the cybercrime law, which allows the Department of Justice to shut down or block access to a computer data, if found to be violating the act, can potentially bring millions of damage to the industry.

“What if malicious pranksters will just lodge unfounded complaints? Before we know it, our computers are already blocked,” Matunog said.

He said that instead of trying to kill the industry, lawmakers should have passed a law that would help it grow more.

“We are the world’s number one texting capital, and the world’s fastest-growing site for BPOs, we need laws that will encourage creativity among the young,” Matunog said.

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