February 5, 2012
The Philippines government is about to come down hard on .PH domain name cybersquatters; placing them in the same category as cyber-criminals.
Cybersquatting is the practice of a party registering a domain name they have no rights over in relation to that extension's policies. For example, in Australia, cybersquatting would include an instance where a party registers a .com.au domain name that is the name of a company they don't own for the purposes of diverting traffic from that company or to resell the domain name to the company at a greatly inflated price.
Cybersquatting of Australian domain names is usually referred to an independent arbitrator. Should the findings be in the complainant's favour, the domain may be transferred to the complainant. There is no criminal case for the respondent to answer; although there may be civil actions launched by the complainant.
However, in the Philippines, cybersquatting will soon be treated as a serious crime.
The Philippines Senate recently approved Senate Bill 2796, aka the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which includes an Act to "prevent fraudulent acquisition of a Philippine domain name over the Internet and for other purposes."
While policies allow for a .PH domain name to be registered by anyone, anywhere in the world; part of the .PH domain name registration agreement states: "to the best of the Nameholder's knowledge and belief, neither the registration of the Domain nor the manner in which it is to be directly or indirectly used infringes the intellectual property rights of another party in accordance with the law effective in the jurisdiction/s where the Nameholder resides or conducts business."
Given this clause, a party in the Philippines who registers a .PH domain name with the intent of cybersquatting could be viewed as cyber-criminal under the new legislation.
Penalties under the act are harsh:
"Any person found guilty of any of the punishable acts enumerated in Sections 4A and 4B of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment of prision mayor or a fine of at least Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP200,000.00) up to a maximum amount commensurate to the damage incurred or both."
The term "prision mayor" is a jail term with a duration of six years to twelve years. Two hundred thousand pesos is approximately AUD $4,364.
The Philippines Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is a far-reaching document; covering some forms of online content, spyware, forgery, software that poses a risk to user privacy and security, scams, phishing and computer "grayware". According to Wikipedia, grayware refers to applications that operate in a way to be annoying or undesirable, but not necessarily destructive or a security threat.
Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 can be viewed here.
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