BPAP: Warrantless collection of data in cybercrime law may turn off investmentsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), one of the staunchest supporters of legislation against cybercrime, has expressed reservations over controversial provisions inserted in the last minute that could undermine the benefits the law.
In a statement posted on its website, the BPAP, which represents the $11-billion-a-year outsourcing industry, said it was unfortunate that provisions that could potentially restrict freedom of speech in the country were inserted without consulting private sector stakeholders.
“It is unfortunate that last-minute provisions on libel and freedom of the Internet were inserted into this important bill without the benefit of stakeholder perspective, including ours,” BPAP said.
“Although we are individually concerned about the last-minute insertion of the provision on libel, BPAP members are collectively more concerned about the similarly last-minute provision on warrantless collection of traffic data,” the group said.
The warrantless collection of traffic data could erode the confidence in the Philippines as a business process outsourcing (BPO) destination, given companies’ reliance on security and absolute privacy.
BPAP said it would await and respect the Supreme Court’s decision on the law.
The high tribunal is set to tackle 11 petitions against the Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, during an en banc session this week.
The President on Friday said he did not agree that the provision on online libel should be removed and that he had to enforce the law—otherwise he could be “impeached for dereliction of duty.”
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, said she expected the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional. She said the law’s use of “overbroad and too vague” language violated the Constitution.
BPAP president Benedict Hernandez, for his part, said most parts of the cybercrime law were designed to promote the development of key Internet-enabled industries such as the BPO sector.
“The Cybercrime Prevention Act is meant to provide the resources and legal framework to identify, prevent and impose punishment for Internet-based crimes and safeguard users’ online information from unauthorized data collector,” Hernandez said.
“Because IT-BPO firms utilize the Internet and computer technology as the principal channel for communication processes, the industry will benefit from provisions covering system and data protection, device security, and penalties for computer-related offenses,” he added.
At the International Outsourcing Summit (IOS) held on Monday, Hernandez said the local BPO sector has been on track to hitting its target of earning $13.4 billion in revenues for 2012 from $11 billion in 2011. The industry is also expected to end the year with 772,000 employees, up from 600,000 at the end of last year.
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