DOJ to form 'cyber police' team
MANILA, Philippines – A team of “cyber police” will soon keep a close watch over the Internet to catch, solve, and foil crimes online.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima made the announcement on Wednesday, August 12, at the launch of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“Our response is to build a team of cybercrime professionals equipped with the requisite expertise, backed up by adequate resources and operating under an ethical framework to ensure that we can deliver justice,” De Lima said in her speech after she signed the IRR with Science Secretary Mario Montejo and Interior Undersecretary Edwin Enrile.
She gave her assurance that the government “will be equally vigilant in the protection of civil liberties be it on the streets, in justice processes, in the courts and on the Web.”
“This is one way where the citizen's trust and confidence can be nurtured and grown,” De Lima said.
Long way to go
The justice secretary admitted that the Philippines has a long way to go in cybercrime prevention as the law was passed 3 decades after the birth of the Internet.
“Cybercrime offenders have had about 3 decades of head start, giving them the valuable time to hone their malicious craft. It's about time that we in the government take that step to finally tackle them head-on,” De Lima said.
The implementation of the Cybercrime Law was delayed by a petition before the Supreme Court questioning its constitutionality. (READ: TIMELINE: The road to SC's Cybercrime Law verdict)
In February 2014, the High Court upheld certain provisions of the law, including online libel, but struck down the controversial takedown clause. (READ: FULL TEXT: Cybercrime law constitutional – Supreme Court)
In 2014, the Philippine National Police recorded 614 cybercrime-related cases, 22% scam-related, 16% involving cyber libel, 11% on voyeurism, and 9% involving identity theft.
Authorities have ironed out overlapping government functions in implementing the law to ensure its quick enforcement.
"Ang cybercrime importantly dapat mabilis. Iyong ebidensya ngayon, mamaya wala na. Hindi tulad ng baril or bolo na nandiyan lang, may dugo. Dito wala eh, walang traces. Mabilis dapat ‘yung law enforcement as a team," said Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, head of the DOJ's Office for Cybercrime.
(In terms of cybercrime, it’s important that the response is quick. Because your evidence can just vanish. It’s not like [crimes involving] guns or machetes that are just there; you can see blood. Here, there are no traces left behind. Law enforcement should be quickly executed as a team.)
Sy appealed to the public to report high-impact cases since the government has limited resources. He cited as an example cases involving big syndicates that use the Internet to prey on minors and women.
“We are making an appeal: When reporting crimes, we hope these involve something that affects a lot of people and not just fights between boyfriend and girlfriend, or fighting among family members. Our resources are very limited," Sy said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Sy also said the government will focus on the so-called "Internet budol-budol," wherein victims are tricked to send money over the Internet.
“’Ngayon ang mga kriminal, [iniisip nila] bakit magpi-pickpocket? Mabubugbog ka pa! Ngayon, [puwede mong gawin] online, nakaupo ka lang, nakanakaw ka na ng password. You're in the safety of your home. Wala kang pagod eh," Sy said.
(Criminals now are saying, why do you have to pickpocket? You risk getting mauled! Now, [you can do it] online, you just sit back and steal passwords. You’re in the safety of your home. You don’t have to break sweat.)
Sy also maintained the DOJ's position that cyber libel should not have been included in RA 10175, “but since it’s already there, we'll have to move forward with it.”
Concerned agencies will draft an “investigation manual” providing guidelines on reporting cybercrimes to international law enforcement agencies like the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and European Police Office (Europol). – Rappler.com
Handcuffs on keyboard image via Shutterstock