A crudely disguised gag order

Yeah, you read that right.  That’s how I see the Cyber Crime Law.

Last September 12, the President of the Republic of the Philippines signed into law Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.  Now don’t get me wrong; the Philippines is in obvious need of this law to prevent child pornography, theft and all other what nots and shenanigans one can easily run over the vast virtual free space of the Web.  But what I didn’t really see coming — actually, I think no one saw this coming, even though a senator whined about it some unforgettable moment before — is this:  the provision for cyberlibel.

Yep, you read that right.  The nation who was brought to fame and infamy because of a peaceful, non-violent revolution led by the mother of the incumbent president has a provision for cyberlibel.  It still exists even though the UN has constantly frowned upon the existence of libel clauses in the Penal Code.  And the punishment for cyberlibel is far harsher than libel of traditional media.

Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said it best.  And here’s the gist of what he said:

 

For the entire piece, click here.

And my opinion comes right about…. now.

I like the Internet.  I like the world wide web.  Since 2004, it has given me ample space to air out my frustrations, goals and unsolicited criticisms.  It is so inviting.  It does not discriminate.  Anyone can take a piece, plop down and call it their space.  I’ve hopped from tBlog to LiveJournal to WordPress with ease and comfort.  This is my living room.

To tell me I can’t put my feet up when I’m in my own living room is just complete utter bull.

If his mother was still alive now, he should expect a disapproving tone to come from her.  This virtual space may have brought out the most scheming and alluring of criminals, but it has also brought out inquisitive and critical minds.  With anonymity, opinions are freely aired and remain as such:  just opinions.  This virtual space allows every individual to find a comfortable outlet to vent, to speak up.

There’s a reason why celebrities, government officials and other personalities eventually planted their ground on the Web:  because they reach people there.  They get to talk to them, find their fans and their critics, see the things they don’t (or not get to) see, peel their eyes to the realities that their eyes cannot seem to cover.  The people — though mostly loud, incoherent and at times offensive — give their thoughts and views on issues FOR FREE.  You don’t even have to pay a survey facility to conduct a quick census, a free online poll  latched to a frequently visited blogger can easily solve that.

So I don’t get it.  Why silence the tens of millions who have created their space?  This is their living room.  Not yours.  And just because they called your interior decor crappy and overdone doesn’t mean they don’t merit to have a living room of their own.

<vent over>

At present, editorials, activists, and lawyers continually question this law and how its supposed to be implemented.  A senator recently admitted to not having seen the provision for cyberlibel and just agreed to the law in general.  Now they’re saying they’re revising the law since the implementing rules and regulations will not sufficiently qualify the depth of the said provision.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you railroad the process to favor your own intentions.  It backfires.  Splatters.  Like shit hitting the fan.  Like crimson mist.

Get it done.  Get it right.  Set it straight.  You owe the people that much.

To know more about the Cybercrime Prevention Law, read the full text here.

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