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SolGen oral arguments Cybercrime Law & some comments

      If you were not at the Supreme Court yesterday and want to get more details beyond the storified version of the Solicitor General’s oral arguments on the Cybercrime Law, here they are: these are right-clicked from rappler reporter Purple Romero’s twitter account (, they’re live tweets; i copied them from bottom to top for a chronological flow of the proceedings,  consolidated where proper instead of paragraphing every 146 letters of tweet.

    We could call them:  “court transcripts by live tweets”, a new phenomenon in judicial proceedings.

   Just some comments so I won’t have to interrupt the flow. The Solgen said that surveillance of traffic data will only show the I.P. address and not the identity of the person. Jeez.

    An I.P. address is not just a number. Most of us who use the internet for work or communication use only one or two personal computers: your mobile/ laptop personal computer and a desktop personal computer in the office. Whatever computer you use, whether your PC or a public computer,  law enforcement authorities who have your IP address and are on real-time surveillance are  capable of  knowing where you are.  An I.P. address of your personal computer  leads to your office address or your home address either through the records of the internet service provider or through physical surveillance; and therefore to your identity.  And then PO1 (police officer 1)  can continue gleefully following your every activity in the internet – without a court order!

      When confronted with the absence of standards for what constitutes “due cause” as ground for real-time collection of traffic date (real-time surveillance of internet data) thru questions from CJ Sereno, Justice Carpio, Justice Tessie de Castro, and Justice Marvic Leonen, (what is due cause?), the SolGen, after hemming and hawing,  in the end, said (and I don’t blame him, his is an unenviable job): “law enforcement can start with internal rule”.

        Internal rule? Kalurky. (kaloka, rough translation: drives me crazy or are you mad). It is being suggested that  law enforcement authorities would agree among themselves that they would be angels for all time and will not snoop on anyone’s internet activity except try to track down the code-breaking & code-writing of hackers. This is like saying: Let’s just trust them na lang, okay.

            From “Oral arguments on the Cybercrime law now starting at SC. Solgen Francis Jardeleza: Revolutionary change has given malefactors to invent a new crime: cybercrime. Jardeleza: Most important chapters of Cybercrime law are 2,3,4. Chapters 2&3 define acts punishable under the law. Chapter 4  specifies new investigative tools to effectuate the law, to locate and identify the anonymous cyber criminal… Jardeleza outlining how Cybercrime law can help authorities trace and arrest “Mr. Hacker.” Jardeleza: The specter of Big Brother was raised. We categorically say RA 10175 does not authorize Big Brother surveillance. Jardeleza: Sec. 12 will only bring law enforcement to IP address, not address like Kalaw 1, 2, 3,4, 5. Jardeleza: We humbly submit that Sec.19 (takedown clause) be struck down, but Sec. 19 does not make void whole Ra 10175. Jardeleza: Is it unconstitutional for the State to criminalize libel? According to this Court, no. Jardeleza: If an utterance is libelous in the physical world, doesn’t it follow that it is libelous in the cyberworld? Jardeleza: Defamation is defamation, whether we communicate through megaphones, letters, radio, tv or email. Jardeleza: For journalists – defamation is defamation whether stories find themselves printed in broadsheet or internet edition. Jardeleza: A “like” is an approval of opinion. Jardeleza: Can a journalist who works for same paper with print and online edition be prosecuted twice? We humbly submit no….

Justice Abad: Can online libel be punished even without RA 10175? Jardeleza: Yes.

Abad: We have legislative admission that online libel does not clearly extend to Internet postings

Jardeleza: Things can go viral – what about reputation?

Justice De Castro: Libel will be considered under broad crimes in Sec. 6

Leonen: Congress does not seem to understand that libel in 1935 is not the libel we have today

Jardeleza: There is no freedom of expression involved in the case of Mr. Hacker.

Leonen: Wouldn’t the best way to protect us from libel is through civil action? Jardeleza: These are matters we submit to those elected

Justice Carpio: If penal law suppresses freedom of speech, it can be facially attacked? Jardeleza: Libel is unprotected speech.

Carpio: You can get traffic data from PLDT without court warrant, correct? Jardeleza: Yes, provided there is due cause

Carpio on collection of traffic data w/o warrant: Let us go to the judge! If u want we can designate a judge 24/7.You can go to his house

Jardeleza: Not all intrusions are unconstitutional, [they are unconstitutional] only if they are unreasonable

Carpio: It’s the use of internet that makes it a cybercrime? Jardeleza: Theoretically, yes

De Castro: Who will initiate determination of due cause? The law does not say how due cause is to be determined. Jardeleza: You’re right.

Jardeleza: The medium can change, but the competing values are the same. Does it harm reputation?

Justice Bersamin: Attempt in the commission of cybercrime – in the revised penal code there is overt act, we don’t seem to require it here

Jardeleza: There is no definition (of attempt in the commission of cybercrime) in RA 10175

Justice Del Castillo: There is no definition of due cause, it’s subject to abuse.

(1/2) Leonen: Are we not giving too much blanket authority to authorities to inspect data packet?

(2/2) Jardeleza: It’s constitutional but we agree there could be more robust procedures

Jardeleza: Cybersex targets cyber prostitution not obscenity.

CJ Sereno: This innocuous-looking section (Sec.3) is the one that caused the most objection (Sec.3 is the definition of terms)

CJ Sereno: You said Sec. 12 is the heart of regulation. If we strike it down, this law is good for nothing.

CJ Sereno: We might ourselves find standards for due cause,  absent.

Jardeleza: Law enforcement can start w/internal rule

Carpio: Why are we allowing law enforcers to do a shortcut? They could always go to the judge.

Abad: I do not find in cybersex provision anything on prostitution or trafficking. The law does not say that. That’s the problem.

Abad: What assurance can you give us that policeman will use real-time collection for a good purpose? None.

Parties are given 20 days to file respective memorandum. Petitioners will file second amended petition on Jan.30.

CJ Sereno on TRO extension: We will address that in due time.