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Philippines Addresses Web Crimes

June 14, 2000

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Joseph Estrada signed an electronic commerce law Wednesday, spurred by criticism the Philippines had no system to punish perpetrators of last month’s ``ILOVEYOU″ computer virus.

Under the law, which went into effect immediately, hackers and those who spread computer viruses can be fined a minimum of $2,350 and a maximum ``commensurate″ with the damage caused, and can be imprisoned for up to three years.

The law does not apply retroactively to those involved in the so-called ``Love Bug″ virus, which was traced to the Philippines and spread last month to millions of computer systems worldwide.

Authors of the law said it will facilitate the exchange of information and transactions through electronic media and promote security of electronic documents.

Estrada said it will also improve government services because it calls for the computerization of government agencies involved in issuing permits, licenses and other documents.

The law will not necessarily deter hacking, said Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

``I think the psychology of a person that would make him do something like an `ILOVEYOU’ virus is different,″ Roxas said. ``It is a challenge for them.″

The Philippines is the fourth Asian country to pass an e-commerce law. The others are Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

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