SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 6710 seeking to add prohibitions and increase penalties for violations of Republic Act No. 8484, otherwise known as the "Access Devices Regulation Act."
HB 6710 is principally authored by committee on banks and financial intermediaries chairman Rep. Ben Evardone and committee on basic education and culture chairman Rep. Ramon Durano VI. It was favored by all 224 House Members present during the voting.
The bill aims to acknowledge advances in information technology on access devices, which are cards, codes, telecommunications services, or other means of account access used to initiate fund transfers or to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value.
The bill notes that these advances have been exploited by criminals and criminal syndicates in perpetrating fraudulent activities that ultimately undermine the trust of the public in the banking industry.
In light of this, it declares the commission of a crime using access devices as a form of economic sabotage and a heinous crime.
Integral provisions of the bill include updating the Access Devices Regulation Act to reflect technological advances that are now commonplace in country.
For instance, it defines hacking as "unauthorized access into or interference in a computer system or server, or information and communication system in order to corrupt, steal, or alter without the knowledge or consent of the owner."
Skimming, a fast-growing threat in the country, is defined as "a type of fraud that occurs when an ATM is compromised by a disguised card reader that saves an ATM card number and its corresponding personal identification number (PIN)."
Applications are also included in the bill as a computer program designed to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities.
Other concepts introduced into RA 8484 by HB 6710 include online banking, and automated teller machine (ATM) card.
Prohibited acts under RA 8484 are also expanded through the approved bill.
The provisions of HB 6710 declare illegal skimming, copying, or counterfeiting any credit card, ATM, or debit card and obtaining any information therein with the intent to access the account and operate the account. The bill further considers this a violation whether or not cash is withdrawn or monetary injury is caused.
Possession of any type of any skimming device, electronic gadget, or equipment that is used to perpetrate the foregoing acts is also prohibited.
Further, it declares as illegal the act of accessing any application, online banking account, credit card account, ATM account, debit card account, in a fraudulent manner regardless of whether it results in monetary loss to the account holder.
The measure levies heavier fines against violations as well.
Economic sabotage—defined as hacking a bank’s system, skimming 50 or more ATM cards, or committing any of the prohibited acts affecting 50 or more accounts—shall be met with life imprisonment and a fine of P1 million to P5 million.
Meanwhile, an offender in possession of 10 or more counterfeit access devices and/or unauthorized access devices and was able to access at least one account or gained credit through fraudulent use of any of the devices shall face minimum imprisonment for 12 to 20 years. In addition, the offender shall be fined P500,000, or twice the equivalent of the aggregate amount of all affected or exposed bank accounts, whichever is higher. / CMBE