In less than 40 minutes (as of writing this), R.A. 10175, or The Cybercrime Prevention Act will take effect here in the Philippines. It is a law which, according to Forbes, “makes SOPA look reasonable”.
Normally, I don’t like to take a more active part in anything related to politics. I’m sure it’s not a very good thing but I’ve always been hesitant in sharing my opinions regarding controversial issues. For this one however, I knew I had to stand up and do my part.
The bill was penned with seemingly good intentions. There are a lot of crimes that can happen online. But that doesn’t mean that you can curtail people’s freedom of speech or their right to privacy just to prevent those crimes from happening. These are basic rights of every human and it should be obvious that you can’t pass a law which violates these rights. Laws are passed to protect people’s rights, not the other way around.
Filipino netizens are calling this the e-Martial law or the Cyber Martial Law, and with good reason. If someone posts a disparaging comment about you on the internet, you can sue them for libel and everyone else who liked, reblogged and/or shared the comment. The poster also gets 12 years in prison. Not only that, if you are found “guilty” of committing libel online, you’ll be serving two sentences: one for the libel provision in the constitution and the other for the one in the Cybercrime Prevention Act. For real.
I don’t get how the Philippine government can be so arrogant to think that this will stick. People all around the world protested against SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and other such bills in other countries. They weren’t passed for a reason. People don’t want this passed for a reason. My advise to those who accepted this? Get your bruised egos in check and do your job. There are so many other issues that needs resolving in the country.
We wouldn’t need to worry about cybercrimes if people knew how to use the internet properly. I suggest that they hold web ethics workshops instead of enacting this law. The less ignorant people are and the more ethically-inclined the users are, there would be no need for this. We really just need to share with everyone the consequences and implications of cybercrimes.
Anyway, it is now 12:10 AM, October 3, 2012. This act should now be technically in effect which means that the internet is now dead.
If you’re a Filipino and you don’t want to kill the internet, or if you’re not a Filipino but want to support the Filipinos in this fight, then please speak up and do something. We all need to contribute, even in the smallest of ways such as changing your profile picture to a blank black photo.
Before I go though, I leave you with this list of readings to familiarize yourself with this issue. After all, ignorance is not always bliss.
- Republic Act No. 10175 – Philippine Government, Official Gazette.
- PIFA.ph – Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance
- Digital Martial Law: 10 Scary Things About the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 – GMA News Online
- Junk the Cybercrime Prevention Law – Change.org (Online Petition)
Please please please, if you can, sign the petition. It will mean so much, not only to me, but to all the Filipinos who want this bill junked.
Until next time dear readers.