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Philippine Websites Hacked Over Cybercrime Law

MANILA - Hackers angered over a new Philippine anti-cybercrime law attacked several government websites on Thursday, posting messages denouncing the new legislation.

The group calling itself "Anonymous Philippines" hacked websites for the central bank, the Manila water service and other agencies to say the bill, which was signed into law earlier this month, violated people's rights.

"The Philippine government has just passed a bill that effectively ends freedom of expression in the Philippines," their warning read.

It cited provisions in the law that would jail anyone who commits libel on the Internet, whether through tweets, blogs or Facebook messages.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino's official gazette was subject to an attack but it was not successful.

Many of the websites were back up in a few hours, he told reporters.

Lacierda also defended the controversial law, saying "what the cybercrime act does is attach responsibilities to cyberspace".

The anti-cybercrime law punishes crimes using the Internet including fraud, forgery, child pornography, identity theft, spamming and "cyber-squatting".

Senator Teofisto Guingona, an ally of Aquino, filed a petition at the Supreme Court on Thursday, questioning the constitutionality of parts of the law such as the provisions on libel.

He charged that the new law punishes online libel with up to 12 years in jail compared to four years for print libel.

It also gives the justice secretary excessive powers to go after alleged cyber-criminals, his petition said.

Related Reading: Philippine Leader Signs Law to Combat Cybercrimes