Freedom-oppressing cybercrime law
By Johanne Margarette R. Macob
ARE we having martial-law-cyberspace-edition now?
I was surprised how fast the Cybercrime concept was put into law as RA 10175, taking into consideration the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill’s pending state. Did the President and the senators who voted actually mull the idea over? I doubt really.
I am not opposing the idea of regulating certain actions being done online, but I am against the oppression of the freedom of speech, as a journalist and as an ordinary citizen. Fine, control the immoral acts such as computer-related identity theft, cybersex, computer-related forgery, and pornography, but not the freedom of expression.
Not the right to free speech. Apart from that, I think the said ‘law’ is a corrupt one, it also is unconstitutional. As stated in Article 3, sec. 4 of the 1987 Constitution, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” So what just happened?
The government should’ve considered this thought: the people who are online are just reacting to what the other people (particularly the personalities) are actually doing. It is not cyber-bullying, I would rather call it cyber-social-involvement. For instance, if someone goes online and says someone’s awful enough to commit plagiarism, then what’s wrong with that? Bullying is way too different from expressing your constructive, concerned opinion. Bullying has no factual basis, mind you.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has declared that the passage of the ‘law’ is actually inconsistent with the “tuwid na daan” advocacy supposedly committed to transparency and freedom of expression. The provisions on what constitutes libel, who can be charged of libel, and the like weren’t clearly defined. The ‘law’ imposes prior restraint to the freedom of expression in cyberspace.
If everything you put on the internet is under the eye of “Big Brother” who is too much conscious about his reputation, then everything you say can be subjected to libel. Instead of watching our acts and words online, why don’t you just guard what you are doing so you won’t hear or see something defamatory (on your part) from us?
The FOI bill goes together with the core good government ideal, transparency, so why didn’t you like to approve this? I bet because you only want to keep an eye on our simple genuine actions so you can do your deeds liberally. FYI, we are the watchdogs. Beware.