SC asked to extend restraining order on cyber law


07:53 PM January 15th, 2013

By: Tetch Torres, January 15th, 2013

The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Petitioners against Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 asked the Supreme Court to extend the 120-day restraining order it issued against the implementation of the law.

The restraining order will lapse on February 5.

“We will take up the request in future en banc (full court) sessions,” Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said.

The restraining order was issued on Oct. 5, 2012 after the high court was swamped with 15 petitions from various groups asking that provisions or the entire law be declared as unconstitutional.

During Tuesday’s oral argument, Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said Section 19 of the law which provides that “when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of [RA 10175], the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data” can be considered an equivalent to a search warrant.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro meanwhile said before there can be finding of possible violation, there has to be an investigation or “snooping around” but the law is not specific.

“Section 19 is not specific on how prima facie findings will come about,” she said.

“All we are asking is that there should be judicial intervention,” lawyer Rodel Cruz told the high court.

On Section 12 of the law which provides for real time data collection of authorities, Justice De Castro said the law is vague for it did not identify who can be subjected to such data gathering.

“In terms of coverage, who are covered? It can be anyone, a group, it doesn’t say also…So it can be upon the discretion of the law enforcement. Is there anything under the law that can restrict the power of authorities to collect data?” de Castro asked.

Lawyer Jesus Disini Jr. said there is none.

“If you allow authorities to gather traffic data, can ordinary citizen know they are only collecting traffic data? How can people be assured,” De Castro asked.

Disini said the law does not provide for any assurance. He said the road power given to authorities can be dangerous as he cited the case of former CIA Director and retired four-star general David Petraeus who resigned after his extramarital affairs was discovered.

Disini said the Petraeus case started with a cyberstalking complaint that prompted the FBI to gather electronic data that eventually led to the discovery of the affair.

Next week, it will be the government’s turn through Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza to argue and insist on the constitutionality of the cybercrime law.

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  • Bigboy I

    wag na extend tro!

  • EdgarEdgar

    While it is heartening to know that two (2) justices stood up to protect cyberfreedom, namely de Castro and Peralta, what the public should worry about are the four (4) appointees of the administration to the Supreme Court. Sereno cited suicides related to cyberbullying as reason for putting in place the anti-cybercrime law. This was seconded by Leonen, Bernabe and Reyes. With Sereno h3ll-bent on upholding the anti-cybercrime law and its cyberlibel provision in support of the administration’s position, there is a good chance that the powers that be will get their way.

    Without cyberfreedom and freedom of information, Sereno’s vindictive termination of the Supreme Court psychologists last December 2012 just a few days before Christmas would not have come to light and spread so quickly in the social media. Without social media, Leonen’s altercation with a barber before the year ended would not have come to the public’s attention. Without the freedom to comment freely online, the misdeclared, understated and undeclared assets and liabilities of Sereno and her fellow justices in 2011 SALN would not have spread far and wide after PCIJ,org and GMA7 published their investigative report on the matter (attested to by COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan). An impeachable offense that future administrations can use against them now that a precedent has been established.

    In the next few weeks, we can expect Sereno and Leonen to lobby other members of the high tribunal quietly to secure the votes for upholding the anti-cybercrime law.

    Let us all be vigilant.

    • highlama08

      I think to conclude that Sereno and Leonen have already decided on the petition is premature. The two were long-time law professors–in the classroom, searching and searing questions best test the strength of legal arguments. In fact, in this afternoon’s oral arguments, some of their questions even gave the petitioners an opportunity to reinforce potent points they did not actually focus on during their speeches.

      If they let up in next Tuesday’s oral arguments (when the government defends the law), maybe the suspicion is warranted, but for now, the above insinuations are purely speculative and, arguably, unfair.

      • EdgarEdgar

        In which case you have until next Tuesday to suspend your disbelief. Erudite or not, their tenure in the ivory tower does not preclude these two human beings from having own biases. Nor does it preclude them from working in pursuit of certain interests on behalf of their maker in the palace, or purely for self-interest. Nonetheless, you are free to join the rest of the nation who see things as they are. When you’re ready. Cheers!

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