- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) - Media groups and Filipinos are stepping up calls for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used suppress online freedoms.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect Wednesday despite petitions to the Supreme Court to stop its implementation. It is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. The citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear it will be used by politicians to silence critics.

It considers libel as a cybercrime and raises cumulative penalties to 14 years in prison. It allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.

Many Facebook users in the Philippines have replaced their profile pictures with black screens.

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