Has the Aquino administration turned its back on the campaign pledge to prioritize the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, and instead passed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a bill that should have focused on running after dangerous criminals but is mostly seen as the government’s sneaky attack on online freedom of expression and to deter netizens like bloggers, online journalist, etc., in raising awareness against erring government officials?
“This section on libel has grave implications for freedom of speech on the Internet. People who post on Facebook, Twitter and write comments in news websites can be sued for libel in much more insidious ways than those in the traditional news media.
I am all for making people personally accountable for what they post online, but not this way.” – Raissa Robles
The National Press Club of the Philippines has recently retracted its statement that offended majority of the bloggers:“…. the target of the law’s punitive provisions, especially libel, are the so-called ‘bloggers’ and other unscrupulous authors of damaging remarks against any person. Many of these often anonymous elements are masquerading as ‘legitimate’ members of the press.”“These are the people who hide in the cloak of anonymity by coming out with bogus Internet accounts to destroy other people’s lives and reputation.”NPC Antiporda acknowledged the statement’s flaws and said the club had actualy meant cyber-bullies rather than the more generic term, bloggers. Here is the retraction sent by NPC president Benny Antiporda.“The National Press Club of the Philippines retracts its statement lauding the signing of the Cybercrime Law (Republic Act 10175) into law by President Benigno Aquino III.
“The National Press Club also apologizes for any offense it may have caused to bloggers, citizen journalists and campus journalists, who may have felt included in the statements made by NPC president Benny Antiporda in the text of the NPC’s earlier statement.
“We sincerely apologize to the bloggers, citizen journalists and campus journalists whom our statement may have offended,” Antiporda said. “We intended no offense and we offer our sincerest apologies as we retract our statement.”
“What we wanted to stress in that statement was that there must be responsibility and accountability in making information public online, as well as offline, in other media” he said.
“Media men have long asked for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act. Guess what. The joke’s on us. We got a libel law instead with absolutely no safeguards which the rich and the powerful can now use to chill critics. How convenient that the law was passed just eight months before a national election.
Good job, senators and congressmen. Let’s remember this on election day.
It was Senator Sotto who inserted libel as a “content-related offense” in Republic Act No. 10175 (the Cybercrime Law).”
“Who inserted that libel clause in the Cybercrime Law at the last minute? Why, nobody else but Senator Vicente Sotto III. Because of Sotto, libel is now a crime that’s lumped together with cybersex, child porn and strangely enough, the electronic mailing of advertising spam.” – Raissa Robles
Please also take a look into this section of the bill:
“Chapter 4 Sec. 12 – Real-Time Collection of Traffic Data
Law enforcement authorities, with due cause, shall be authorized to collect, or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time associated with specific communications transmitted by means of a computer system……..”
Since “computer” may mean your phone, does this mean a “law enforcement authority” can “collect or record” in “real time” data from your phone if s/he has “due cause?”
Who says the “law enforcement authority” has “due cause?”
How will “law enforcement authorities” collect data from your computers?
Here are the names of the senators who voted “Yes” to the Senate version on Third Reading of the Cybercrime Law:
Gregorio Honasan II
Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Ramoln “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Manuel “Lito” Lapid
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos
Vicente Sotto III
Only Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona voted “No.”
*credits to Raissa Robles, and other social media peeps.