Philippines Supreme Court Issues Preliminary Injunction against New Cyber Crimes Law

Yesterday the Philippine Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction against a recently passed anti-cybercrime law that had harsh penalties for violators of various statutes within the law. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the court issued the temporary restraining order to keep the government from enforcing it while the courts decide if it is legal on the country's constitution. Despite public protests and pressure to lawmakers who supported the bill, it managed to gain passage in the legislature and was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III last month. The law officially took effect last week but legal challenges from various rights groups put the kibosh on the law actually being enforced.

The court has suspended the law for 120 days and oral arguments for and against the law have been scheduled for January 15. The court also ordered the government to respond within 10 days to 15 petitions seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. The goal of the law was to fight Internet crimes such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography.

But critics like the country's journalists and rights groups opposed the law because it also makes online libel a crime, doubling the normal penalty. It also blocks access to websites deemed to violate the law. Many opponents of the law fear that that politicians could use it to effectively silence anyone online that they believe is a critic – including journalists. Critics also claim that the law violates basic freedom of expression rights and due process.

Source: KEYC TV

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