Much ado about the cybercrime law (Whatever happened to Onel?)
Years ago, when Onel de Guzman launched the ILOVEYOU virus onto cyberspace, he crashed computers worldwide.
Later, the world discovered that a Filipino student unleashed this virus, which lured people to clicking an email attachment from a friend with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.”
A media frenzy followed. All eyes were on the Philippines, a country that earned a bad reputation for launching such as devastating computer virus.
Sadly, as cases mounted against Onel de Guzman, the country had no laws that would help government prosecute him. Thus, the E-commerce Law was passed under the watch of former President Joseph Estrada. But the laws were not retroactive. So De Guzman was never charged and government prosecutors had to let him go.
Years after the ILOVEYOU virus debacle, government convicted a Filipino found to have attacked the gov.ph website. It was the first successful conviction that used the E-commerce Law.
Efforts to push for a cybercrime law in the Philippines have been happening since the early 1990s. Back then when I was still chasing technology stories, I remember a group of security experts and government volunteers working together to draft the law that was consistent with Cybercrime laws from around the world.
So in fairness to the people who started this, the intent was clear and good in the beginning.
Now, we have this controversial Cybercrime Law, which has earned mounting opposition from different sectors.
Senators who signed this bill into a law have recently suggested that they made a mistake. Some admitted that they even didn’t read the whole bill. Hmmm.
It’s sad that this law which was meant to protect us from cybercriminals is earning bad rap in the country.
But as they say, strike when the iron is hot. This should also be a good opportunity for the original proponents to start educating the public about cybercrimes, and why the law is needed.
Several groups have recently emerged on Facebook, including this one, which is a good place to start more discussions about this law, and what’s wrong with it.
No law is perfect.