Philippines court suspends cybercrime law

Philippines court suspends cybercrime law

Philippines court suspends cybercrime law

Updated 9 October 2012, 20:35 AEDT

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a controversial cybercrime law, amid huge online protests over fears it would impose enormous curbs on Internet freedoms.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said a "temporary restraining order" was issued by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Such an order stops Philippine laws from taking effect until further orders from the court, while making no immediate judgement on their legality.

"The Supreme Court temporary restraining order is an exercise of the power of judicial review. We respect and will abide by it," de Lima told reporters.

"Our advocacy for a safe cyberspace and interdiction of organised crime will continue," she added.

The 15-member Supreme Court held a meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss petitions seeking to outlaw the cybercrime act.

No other details about the restraining order were immediately available.

The law, which went into force last week, seeks to stamp out non-controversial cybercrimes such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography.

However one provision that metes out heavy jail terms for online libel, tougher than for defamation in the traditional media, has caused an uproar.

Equally controversial is a provision that allows the government to shut down websites and monitor online activities, such as video conversations and instant messaging, without a court order.

Human rights groups, media organisations and netizens have voiced their outrage at the law, with some saying it echoes the curbs on freedoms imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.

Philippine social media has been alight with protests, while hackers have attacked government websites and petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court calling for it to overturn the law.

Senator Teofisto Guingona, one of at least 13 people or groups to have asked the court to strike down the cybercrime law, hailed the reported injunction.

"With this temporary restraining order, the tyrannical powers granted by the law are effectively clipped. However, the fight is not over," Guingona said in a statement.