Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a far-ranging piece of legislation that was passed by the Senate in June and made official last week. A government official said that the new law is
intended to curtail a number of offenses frequently committed on the internet, but that it also prohibits certain content-related behavior.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that punishable acts under the
new law include offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data system, illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference and misuse of devices.
The law also includes offenses such
as computer-related forgery, fraud, libel and identity theft, as well as content-related offenses such as cybersex and child pornography.
The Act is particularly miserable in sections defining banning webcam girls, sex video chat or cybersex. The
act defines cybersex as the wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration .
The law states that the regional trial court
shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of this Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission... if any of the elements was committed within the Philippines .
breaking the law faces a fine of 250,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000; £ 3,700) and a jail term of up to six months.
One of the authors of the law, senator Edgardo Angara, said the act was needed to detect,
investigate and suppress cybercrime such as hacking, cybersex, identity theft, spamming, and child pornography online.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police are now meant to set up a cybercrime unit to
exclusively handle cases involving violations of this act . To deal with these cases, the authorities are planning to create cybercrime courts with specially trained judges.
Philippine media organisations have expressed concerns that it may
also be used to curb press freedom because it lists internet libel as cybercrime. According to the act, someone found guilty of libellous comments online, including comments made on social networks and blogs, could be jailed for up to 12 years with no
possibility of parole.
Fans of a best-selling erotic novel face a premature end to their reading pleasure because the second and third instalments of the trilogy have been withdrawn from the UAE bookshops.
Employees at some of the country's biggest bookstores say
all three books of the Fifty Shades trilogy, by the British author EL James, were available until about a month ago, when there was a sudden withdrawal of the final two books in the series - Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
However, the first book in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey , remains on sale.
A saleswoman at Magrudy's in Abu Dhabi's Al Wadha Mall said they were still waiting for books two and three. They're banned. We don't know when we
will get them, she said.
At Book World by Kinokuniya, in Dubai Mall, a saleswoman said the store was not allowed to sell the final instalments.
Virgin Megastore, which has a large display of the first book in Abu Dhabi Mall, said
the second and third books have not been granted approval in the UAE at the moment . Iain Paul Martin, Virgin's regional senior books buyer, said all the store's books required an approval certificate from the department of media content at the
NMC. In this case, books 2 and 3 of the Grey trilogy have not been granted the certificate, he said.
But strangely the National Media Council (NMC), the government authority overseeing censorship, has rigorously denied imposing any such
ban, claiming that stores deciding not to sell the book have decided to do so of their own accord. Ibrahim Al Abed, the director general of the NMC, said the council had nothing to do with these things . We do not censor books. It's up to the
bookshops who can decide to ban the books, he said.
The credit card giant, Visa, is asking paysite operators by way of third-party billers and merchant banks to cease using certain terms in certain contexts---for example, the use of the word forced when combined with orgasm, or the use of
the word torture when combined with ... well, probably any sexual activity.
Again, why this is being done now is unknown, but Visa/MasterCard appears to be very serious in its intent to remove from websites that accept the
cards any hint of sexual activity that could be perceived as violent, even if it is consensual.
Miserable Philippine officials pushed for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members to take action against online pornography and prostitution.
Undersecretary Parisya Taradji of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) spouted at a recent Manila conference:
We all have crucial roles to play to save the lives of vulnerable children and women, who are often the victims of such kind of exploitation,
AT the Conference on Working Toward a Cyber Pornography and Cyber Prostitution Free Southeast Asia the DSWD claimed cyber pornography and cyber prostitution have become troublesome and ever-growing crimes.
Representatives from the ASEAN
countries attended the event and compared notes about their countries' experience and initiatives in fighting cyber pornography and cyber prostitution.