Sponsorship Speech: Budapest Convention on Cybercrime

February 12, 2018

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Budapest Convention on Cybercrime
12 February 2018 | Senate Session Hall


Mr. President,


Cyberspace is now at the core of how societies, groups, corporations and individuals worldwide interact with each other. Considering the dynamic nature of the ‘Knowledge Age’ we are in, it is imperative that the country is ahead of the curve as it navigates its way through this technological revolution, mindful both of its promised benefits, and, perhaps crucially, its incumbent threats.


There is a pressing need to enhance the national cybersecurity capability to be able to protect vital government networks, information and communications technology (ICT) infostructures, businesses, and individuals. It is important for the country to utilize all means at its disposal and adopt all necessary mechanisms to effectively address threats associated with cyber-technology, particularly cybercrime.


According to the 2017 State of the World’s Children report of the UNICEF, the Philippines is the number one global source of child pornography and a hub for the live-stream sexual-abuse trade. Around 8 out of every 10 Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse or bullying. For this reason alone, we need to enhance national cybersecurity.


It is in this light that your Committee on Foreign Relations seeks approval of Senate Resolution No. 616 under Committee Report No. 238, entitled: Resolution Concurring in the Accession to the Convention on Cybercrime.




The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe during its 109th Session on November 8, 2001 and was opened for signature on November 23, 2001. It entered into force on July 1, 2004.


To date, the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime remains the sole binding international legal mechanism adopted by countries to address the threats posed by cybercrime. With 56 states parties ratifying the treaty, as of September 2017, the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime has facilitated multilateral cooperation and enhanced collective capability to interdict and/ or suppress cybercrime.


As a ground-breaking international legal framework on cybercrime, the Convention has produced numerous significant best practices and has spurred even non-signatory countries to adhere to some of its provisions.


Salient Features


A major feature of the Convention is the track towards the harmonization of domestic legal procedures of state parties, with the intention of addressing the emergence of so-called ‘safe havens’. These ‘areas’ are created when certain activities are not criminalized in a specific country. This results in individuals and/ or organized groups being able to act with impunity in committing offences in these countries. In addition, harmonization is crucial in the effective cooperation between and among law enforcement agencies.


The Convention employs a comprehensive response in dealing with cybercrime. For instance, the multilateral agreement has provisions for addressing significant offenses, procedural laws and international cooperation. As regards substantive offenses, these include: (1) offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems and data; (2) computer-related crimes, including, but not limited to fraud and extortion; (3) content-related offenses, such as online voyeurism and child pornography; and (4) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement. These provisions cover the wide spectrum of cybercrimes and are designed to offer flexibility in addressing future forms of cybercrimes and cyber threats.


The Convention also promotes cooperation ‘to the widest extent possible’ between and among state parties. These cooperative arrangements may cover investigations of cybercrimes and the gathering of electronic evidence. Cooperation is likewise encouraged in the area of information sharing, specifically in the real time collection and interception of traffic and content data, respectively. Provided, that these arrangements are allowed under the state parties’ domestic laws and other relevant treaties.


Thus, the Convention avoids obligatory provisions on mutual assistance between and among parties. Mutual assistance is only extended within the ambit of permissive domestic laws of the requested party, and the relevant mutual assistance treaties. Nevertheless, the Convention robustly fosters mutually beneficial cooperative arrangements between and among state parties to ensure effective action in combatting cybercrimes.


Advantages of Ratification


When the Internet was introduced, it was heralded as something that would transform the world for the better. But as it improved many things, and ushered in a more intertwined humanity, it also gave rise to numerous unintended consequences, foremost of which is cybercrime.


In their recent forms, cybercrimes have become conspicuously more sinister, complex and diverse. They can be a brazen multimillion-dollar bank heist, an international cyber-pornography operation peddling children through so-called “private chatrooms”, or disrupting an entire international airport’s operation.


Since cybercrime, by its very nature, is borderless, simultaneous and persistent; cooperation, coordination, and collaboration with other countries is therefore vital. Our engagement beyond our borders, through mutual cooperation, will be a key element in effectively addressing the scourge of cybercrime and cyber threats, while ensuring that the country conforms with international norms in protecting privacy rights, personal data and freedom of expression.


Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, accession to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime will provide the Philippines distinct guideposts on the track towards harmonizing our national laws with prevailing international legal frameworks and practices. This, in turn, will enable us to be in step with these norms and provide the country with an important framework for steering our continuing effort to fine-tune our national laws, practices and procedures, and shore up our resilience in the face of a dynamic ‘Knowledge Age’.


Further, the Philippines will be able to engage a significant number of like-minded countries on mutually beneficial cooperative and collaborative arrangements in combatting cybercrimes and gain access to crucial assistance that would benefit our efforts to strengthen domestic capability in this regard.


Finally, the accession will be an incontrovertible message to the international community of our resolve to play an active part in the comprehensive response against a concern that not only affects the Philippines, but the whole world.


On the basis of these compelling reasons, I humbly recommend that this Senate concurs in the ratification of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.


Thank you, Mr. President.