Woman, first to be charged under controversial Philippine cybercrime law

By , on June 16, 2014

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MANILA – A woman indicted of computer fraud has been charged under the Philippines’ controversial cybercrime law. She is the first person to ever be charged under the recently implemented Philippine law.

Justice department records showed on Sunday that Karla Martinez Ignacio was charged with transferring thousands of dollars to her bank account using fraudulent computer data. She faces up to six years in jail if found guilty of the crime.

Martinez, who is set to be charged under the Philippines’ Cybercrime Prevention Act, was indicted by a prosecutor in the city of Las Pinas.

The law is designed to deter and eliminate online criminal activities like fraud, identity theft and child pornography. It also imposes heavy prison terms for online libel, which critics say could be used to stifle dissent and freedom of speech, especially since Facebook and Twitter have become popular avenues of organizing activities like political rallies and street protests in the Philippines.

Although passed in 2012, the implementation of the law was suspended after having come under fire from various sectors.

The Supreme Court ruled in February that the law was not unconstitutional thus enabling its implementation, but also vetoed a provision giving authorities comprehensive powers to shut down websites or record Internet traffic data in real time.