4 Oct 2012
President Aquino of the Philippines signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law on 12 September, sparking public protests and media concern over the possibility of a crack down on the freedom of speech. The controversial law targets online crime and is intended to protect the young by barring online child pornography, as well as helping to prevent cybersex, block identify theft and reduce spamming. However, critics of the Cybercrime Prevention Act are concerned that its measures also make libel a ‘cybercrime’ punishable by a term of up to twelve years in prison. As such, civil rights protesters and other media fear the new legislation could be used by the government to target its opponents and clamp down on freedom of speech. One source also points out that the new law gives government officials new powers to ‘search and seize data’ from the online accounts of the Filipino population.