Philippine Supreme Court Suspends Cybercrime Law

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines today suspended implementation of the country's new cybercrime law for a period of four months.

"Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday the court issued a temporary restraining order, keeping the law from taking effect until it can review whether certain provisions limit civil liberties," VOA News reports. "The law, which went into force last week, targets identity theft, hacking and child pornography, among other offenses. But critics have taken particular issue with a provision that gives heavy punishment for online libel. They also fear a clause that allows the government to shut down websites and monitor online activity without a court order."

"The most controversial aspect was a libel provision that seemed to indicate that citizens could be arrested for negative comments toward the police or government leveled via Facebook, Twitter or the internet in general," writes Forbes' Paul Tassi. "Further compounding the issue was the fact that a Senator who inserted the libel provision recently was the target of internet outrage after it was documented that he lifted speeches from bloggers and the US’s Robert F. Kennedy. Opponents said it was his 'hurt feelings' that would enact a part of the law that would essentially legalize Chinese-style censorship of the Filipino people."

"The court declared in a brief written notice that the law would be suspended for four months while the tribunal studies the arguments for and against it," Channel NewsAsia reports. "'The court resolved... to issue a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and for a period of 120 days, enjoining the respondents from implementing and/or enforcing (the cybercrime act),' it added. Such an order stops Philippine laws from taking effect until further orders from the court, while making no immediate judgment on their legality."