House panel tackles amendments to give cybercrime law more teeth

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A HOUSE panel tackled on Thursday proposed amendments to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 that will give law enforcers more leeway in going after suspects and using the national ID system as a standard requirement to prevent fraud.

Davao de Oro Rep. Maria Carmen S. Zamora, chair of the Committee on Strategic Alliance, said updating the law is crucial as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated cyberattacks as people relied more on online transactions.

“Sources say that losses incurred by bank clients from cyberattacks exceeded P1 million in 2021 alone,” she said.

Bernard R. Yang, deputy director for operations of the national police, said there were 41,667 reported cases of cybercrime from March 20, 2013 to December 9 this year.

Mr. Yang said the most prevalent among cybercrimes and cyber-related crimes is swindling or online scams, accounting for 5,337 case or 41.76% of the total.

Others were illegal access, computer-related identity theft, online libel, access devices, threat, data interference, photo and video voyeurism, unjust vexation, and system interference.

The police official recommended that the law be amended to allow the retention of computer data and information of bank account holders suspected of committing cybercrime and cyber-related offenses for use in case development and as evidence.

He also said law enforcement agencies should be allowed to request information if there is a verified complaint or through a subpoena.

Mr. Yang also called for the use of the national identification card as a requirement in online platforms to prevent criminals from using fake identities.

Bukidnon Rep. Jonathan Keith T. Flores, meanwhile, raised the need to strengthen coordination between the police, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice (DoJ) to improve the country’s conviction rate.

He said, “Most of the cases that have been dismissed are those filed by the PNP (Philippine National Police) without consulting the DoJ,” Mr. Flores said.

The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center has been tasked to send more comprehensive proposed amendments that will be included in a draft bill. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz