The Philippines is today making headlines around the world after President Benigno Aquino III signed a law that bans cybersex as part of a cybercrime prevention tactic. The act, signed last Wednesday, September 12, prohibits the "willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, direction or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration."
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 aims to cut down on cybercrime by making certain acts such as cyber-squatting, computer-related forgery and identity theft, and child pornography, illegal. However, also included on the list of punishable offenses under this new act is cybersex and some harsh new punishments for libel. The Electronic Frontier Foundation cites the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines as saying the new act actually broadens the scope the country's libel law, which it describes as "so antiquated and draconian that the United Nations Human Rights Council itself declared it excessive and called on the Philippine government to review the law with the end of decriminalizing libel."
Wired UK reports that the cybersex portion of the act is an effort to put a stop to sex trafficking and forced prostitution. However, the law doesn't make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts, which means consenting adults could also find themselves breaking this law.
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines: Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
- EFF: Philippines' New Cybercrime Prevention Act Troubling for Free Expression
- Wired UK: Philippines passes law that criminalises cybersex