Anti-Cyber Crime Law–Nothing else new about Libel except the use of Computer

I have read several negative feedback about “libel” in the new anti-cyber crime law–RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) which was signed into law recently by President Aquino. But as i go over with the provisions of the new law, there’s nothing new about libel except the addition of the use of computer in the commission of libel.

RA 10175 adds the “committed through a computer system” phrase in the “Means of Libel” (original provision of Art. 355 of the Revised Penal Code below).

Art. 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. — A libel 
committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, 
engraving,radio, phonograph, painting,theatrical exhibition,
cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be 
punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium 
periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both,
in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the 
offended party.

Long before the RA 10175 was passed, some cyber legal experts had already opined that libel committed online is already included in the libel law provisions of the Revised Penal Code. In one of his interviews, Atty. Jose Jesus “JJ” Disini Jr., a cyber law expert said many had mistakenly thought that defamation on Facebook is not covered by our libel laws. The phrase–“or any similar means” in Art. 355 of the RPC encompasses writing and posting defamatory statements on Facebook and in any online pages and sites.

In my Media Laws and Ethics class at the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City i’d lined up the legal basis of libel on Facebook and warned my students on the implications of what they’ve been writing on their FB wall. Here’s an excerpt of my lessons which i also posted on this blog years ago:

Some writers in the online community have already expressed their apprehension that the new anti-cyber crime law shall be used to harass bloggers and online writers. Again, even without RA 10175 online libel is already covered by the existing libel law. However, some judges opined that the “similar means” should be clearly defined to include libel committed on television, radio broadcast and in online sites to avoid subjecting it to several interpretations.

In the case of RA 10175 it only includes the “committed through a computer system” as one of the means of libel while the phrase “similar means” is retained. (Below is item 4 under (c) Content-related offenses of Chapter II Punishable Acts of RA 10175.)

(4) Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as
defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as 
amended committed through a computer system or any other
similar means which may be devised in the future.

CONCLUSION

In my opinion, the issue on harassment against the online community is no longer an issue since several libel cases have already been filed in relation to online defamation. But what is clear, we now have a law that runs after cyber criminals who shall commit similar offenses below:

  • Hacking (cracking)
  • Cyber squatting
  • Identity theft
  • Computer Fraud
  • Cybersex
  • Child Pornography
  • Commercial Spams
  • Libel

Read RA 10175 to know more of the provisions of the law, especially the fines and penalties thereat. Happy blogging and be responsible online writer!

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#9 – Avoiding Libel on Facebook (569 views)

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Thank you for reading my articles.

Avoiding Libel on Facebook

The new battleground for committing libel is now the internet. A lawyer has said the Philippines has no specific internet libel law making doubts if libel cases stemmed from defamatory statements on Facebook and other social networks shall prosper.

The world’s first-known libel case on Facebook was filed in Europe in July 2008,  by British businessman Matthew Firsht against his former school friend, Grant Raphael who alleged the former as a gay. Firsht won and awarded damages for the libel case and  breach of privacy.

In the Philippines, the first libel case on Facebook was filed by celebrity cosmetic surgeon–Dr. Vicky Belo against writer-lawyer-activist Atty, Argee Guevarra who imputed  on Belo as the “Reyna ng Kaplastikan, Reyna ng Kapalpakan” referring to the alleged malpractice of the Belo clinics. (Update: The case was dismissed after the judge trying the case ruled that there was no libel on the internet yet. However, several similar cases have been pending in several courts nationwide.)

In the offing for a possible libel battle are the controversial shout-outs of Film Director and Actress Gina Alajar on her Facebook making some negative comments against young starlet–Krista Ranillo over the alleged affair of the young star with boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. Read in one of the shout-outs of Alajar’s account: If I am Jinkee Pacquiao, I will not give up Manny. “Krista Ranillo is not at all worth it!

Definitely, libel on the internet as well as in broadcasting are not specifically mentioned in our libel laws. However, there is a provision in the law that covers every means of libel.

Meantime, I am reserving the rest of the spaces on this page to my Media Laws & Ethics class at the University of San Jose Recoletos for further discussions….

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