By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
After being opened for signature since November, 2001, the Philippines finally became party to the Budapest Convention Cybercrime, the most relevant international agreement on cybercrime and electronic evidence.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement during the Palace press briefing that the Philippines has become the 57th party to the convention after we signed the instrument of accession last December, 2016 and with the Senate concurring on it last month.
“With the landmark signing of this convention, the Philippines can now squarely address the issues brought about by Cybercrime at both the domestic and international levels including its facilitation, investigation and prosecution,” he said.
On February 20, the Senate unanimously concurred in the ratification of the Convention, saying it facilitates multilateral cooperation and enhanced collective capability to suppress cybercrime.
According to Senate foreign relations committee chair Loren Legarda, the Convention remains as the “sole binding international legal mechanism” adopted by countries against cybercrime and is also crucial in fighting child pornography.
“This treaty is very important to protect our people from cybercrime especially since the country is the number one haven for those committing child pornography,” Legarda said in a statement.
Legarda was citing a UNICEF report which states that the Philippines is the number one global source of child pornography and a hub for livestream sexual abuse trade.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also welcomed the Philippines being party to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.
“Our accession to the Convention will level the playing field between the Philippines and foreign counterparts in pursuing a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrimes,” Aguirre said in a statement.
The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime seeks to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations.
It was drawn up by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime deals with copyright infringement, computer-related fraud, child pornography, hate crimes, and violations of network security.
The Convention also contains a series of powers and procedures such as the search of computer networks and lawful interception.
Its main objective is to pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, especially by adopting legislation and fostering international cooperation.
The offenses defined by the Convention are illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery and fraud, offenses related to child pornography, and offenses related to copyright and neighboring rights.