Topic: The Philippines' first "hacker" conviction
This issue is a potential hornet's nest of opinions. I'd like to hear what you guys think anyway. Yes, I'd much rather listen to BSD peoples' opinions over any other group...
Here's the issue:
We've just had the first conviction under the Philiipines' E-Commerce Act, oficially designated as Republic Act 8792.
Now, this particular piece of legislation, in it's Sec. 33(a), sets forth thus:
SEC. 33. Penalties. - The following Acts shall be penalized by fine and/or imprisonment, as follows:
(a) Hacking or cracking which refers to unauthorized access into or interference in a computer system/server or information and communication system; or any access in order to corrupt, alter, steal, or destroy using a computer or other similar information and communication devices, without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the computer or information and communications system, including theintroduction of computer viruses and the like, resulting in the corruption,destruction, alteration, theft or loss of electronic data messages or electronic document shall be punished by a minimum fine of one hundredthousand pesos (P100,000.00) and a maximum commensurate to the damage incurred and a mandatory imprisonment of six (6) months to three (3) years;
This was the particular law and particular provision under which the defendant was prosecuted, allegedly for breaking into the computer network of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA, http://www.neda.gov.ph). The defendant alleged in his trial that he was acting out of the purest of motives (ok, suspend the laughter), in short, that he was being a whitehat and all that, only doing so in an honest desire to inform the admins about the vulnerabilities in their system in the hope that they will patch those holes, and after which the sun will shine on Philippine cyberspace, music from some godforsaken broadway musical will filter through, and everyone will be smiling, heralding the advent of a period of peace and digital harmony (damn my cynicism gets the better of me a LOT of times).
Ok so that's the deal. Guy gets nailed, goes on trial, gets royally reamed and convicted.
Issue: The prosecution used the argument that the defendan't motives were immaterial, the crime contemplated under Sec. 33(a) being "Mala Prohibita." (That's legalese for "We don't care what your intent was, the act itself is illegal, regardless of intent")
The news item that I can readly point to regarding this trial and subsequent conviction is this:
http://news.inq7.net/infotech/index.php … y_id=52070
Now please don't mind the opinions there, those are of politicians and whatnot, and would rate zero on if we were to consider a rational reckoning of the issues presented, raised, and deliberated upon in the trials. I merely point to it in order to show how grandstanding traditional politicians, and even some "new blood" political young turks are crowing about the isue, without really shedding light on the validity of the arguements raised in an arguably important test case.
The following link, however, is important, inasmuch as the author/blogger is one of the prime movers behind the enactment of RA 8792. He is Prof. JJ Disini of the University of the Philippines College of Law, a professor I had the pleasure of studying the law under. (The type who interrupts a long class session with "This is getting boring, let's order some pizza"... that type..and why people love him.) and whose opinion I'd listen to more than those of conviction-hungry prosecutors or worse, publicity-grabbing politicians. In two particular blogs/posts, he raises some questions about how the law was applied to this particular "test case."
http://disini.i.ph/blogs/disini/index.p … log=disini