Justices to cyberlaw critics: How about Chris Lao case?

SC justices ask cybercrime law critics: How about Chris Lao case? What of victims of cyberbullying?

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers argue against the cybercrime law before the Supreme Court.

They say the law is too broad and vague.

But some justices point out, there has to be liability for online posts.

Ayee Macaraig reports.

To critics, it’s e-martial law.

But Supreme Court justices ask: What if you’re cyberbullying victim Chris Lao?

What if Twitter users @IamDerekRamsay and @HecklerForever with thousands of followers attack your reputation on the web?

Justices play devil’s advocate as 5 lawyers argue against the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act on day one of oral arguments in the Supreme Court.

Petitioners say provisions like online libel violate freedom of speech and expression, and vaguely identify liability in the age of retweeting and sharing.

But Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justice Marvic Leonen point out there is a need to protect private citizens, with the ease and permanence of posting negative messages online.



It’s really a case of first impression because we had not had a facial challenge on libel itself. Because the Internet is new, this is also a case of first impression on whether or not electronic libel could be punished as such.

Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares argues against imposing penalties one degree higher on cybercrimes compared to ordinary crimes.

He says this means the law brands technology as evil, and discriminates against Internet users.

Lawyers Rodel Cruz and JJ Disini stress the need for a court order or warrant before government can block access to computer data, what’s known as the takedown clause.

They say a warrant is also needed to allow government to collect traffic data in real-time.



The problem with infringement of privacy is that if you’re being watched, what you do online will vary. You will not do things. You will visit certain sites but not certain sites, so in that sense your freedom is implicated. Your ability to do things online is implicated.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza says Congress has yet to advise him whether it will send its own lawyer to defend the takedown clause, as he admits that it is unconstitutional.

Petitioners call on the Supreme Court to act quickly with the restraining order on the law’s implementation set to lapse on February 6.



Yung Congress, wala nang panahon eh. We will resume session on Monday, January 21. We will only have 9 session days. I don’t think there is enough time para pag-usapan ulit itong cybercrime prevention legislation. So we’re hoping Supreme Court talaga.

Government will have its turn to defend the law on January 22.

How do you balance rights and responsibilities?

The Supreme Court raises this question as petitioners defend the primacy of basic freedoms.

The law’s critics concede government should fight cybercrimes but they insist that the measure in its current form is not the answer.

Ayee Macaraig, Rappler. – Rappler.com 

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