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MANILA, Philippines – An official of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division said they support the passage of the anti-online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) bill, adding it would speed up the investigation of online sexual predators.
“Ang NBI po ay nangunguna sa fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Gaya po ng nasabi ko, ito pong batas na ito ay napakagandang tool na magagamit ng law enforcement para sa pagsugpo po nitong ganitong klase ng krimen,” NBI Cybercrime Division chief Christopher Paz told reporters on Wednesday, July 27.
(The NBI leads the fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Like what I’ve said, this law is a good tool that can be used by the law enforcement in fighting these kinds of crimes.)
Paz said the bill, which is yet to be signed by the President, would speed up the process of addressing cybercrimes.
“Dahil nakasaad po sa batas na ito na hindi na kailangan ng tinatawag na cybercrime warrant para makuha po namin ‘yong digital evidence online at malaking tulong po ito. Magiging mabilis po ang aksiyon,” the NBI official explained.
(Because this bill states that we do not need to have a cybercrime warrant to get digital evidence and this is a big help to us. Action would be much faster.)
Also on Wednesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros held a briefing with representatives of the NBI, the Philippine National Police, and Facebook representatives to give updates on online sexual abuse cases in the country. The briefing was held a few days before the anti-OSAEC bill lapses into law.
Unless vetoed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the bill will automatically lapse into law on Friday, July 29. Under the country’s legislative process, if the president does not act on a bill submitted by Congress, “it will lapse into law after 30 days of receipt.”
Would this really speed up probes?
- Removing another layer. According to Paz, the bill would help in speeding up investigations because another layer in the bureaucracy would be removed: “Nagkakaroon po ng another layer of bureaucracy dito sa ganitong klase ng documentary requirement. Pero siyempre, ‘yon po ang Supreme Court rule so kailangan po ito naman para magkaroon ng sapat na ebidensiya para makulong po itong online predators na ito.”
(This type of documentary requirement adds another layer of bureaucracy. But of course, that’s a Supreme Court rule so we need it to have sufficient evidence to jail online predators.)
- Anti-cybercrime law requires court order. Under section 12 of the anti-cybercrime law, only the collection of traffic data or communication’s “origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying service,” are allowed to be collected without a court warrant.
- Process of court warrant. Under the existing anti–cybercrime law, a court warrant will only be issued if there are no other means of obtaining evidence and if the requestor or law enforcer meets requirements such as: providing reasonable grounds to prove that crimes are committed or about to be committed and grounds to believe that the evidence that will be gathered is essential for the conviction of any person.
- Does ‘no warrant’ threaten rights? Lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of non-government organization EnGendeRights, said “the cyber warrant actually protects the rights of the suspect because it’s issued by the judge.”
- What does the new law say? Under the proposed bill, the “no warrant” is not absolute because it only applies to internet service providers or ISPs and some stakeholders to fulfill their duties under the law, like preserving evidence while still observing due process.
During the briefing, Hontiveros said representatives of Facebook committed to address online sexual abuses in the country. According to the senator, the social networking site agreed to help the Philippine government in crafting the implementing rules and regulations of the anti-OSAEC bill if it becomes law.
Hontiveros also said that during her meeting with the PNP and other stakeholders, they agreed to follow three steps in helping the government enforce the law once it is passed:
- Immediate takedown of sites
- Preservation of evidence
- Transmittal of evidence to authorities
Facebook also promised that aside from upholding their community standards, they will also improve mechanisms to fight online sexual abuses, according to Hontiveros.
She also said her office would reach out to other social networking platforms besides Facebook. – Rappler.com