End of CyberFreedom

Legal Online Editorial Cartoon by Manix Abrera

In a matter of hours, the recently-signed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 will become effective – and with it, the beginning of another tribulation the likes of which have never been thought possible during the dark days of the martial law regime.

And yet, the public outrage is off the charts.
UN internet freedom is a right

What does this mean to you? It means that we are being denied of a right to express ourselves online… for the wrong reasons too. Simply sharing or liking post that the government deems offensive can net you some jail time? Is tweeting a grievance a criminal offense now?

This started because a certain senator plagiarized passages from a blogger and a famous US president into his speeches – and later said about the blogger “blogger lang yon.” Such brazen nonsense from him, yet he continues to dig his head into the sand, say he doesn’t get the revulsion against him and denies that he or anyone in his staff inserted a provision against online libel at the last minute. It’s a safe bet he is just waiting for the law to go into effect and he will go on a counterstrike – the sign of a cowardly and bitter old man. He’s in the same boat as the PNP who denies that they made these statements:

It is also hard to believe that our Supreme Court, in its first major test since the impeachment of Renato Corona, declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the Act. These justices have apparently forgot the one provision in our Constitution that actually targets these kinds of laws:

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

To the Emilian, what does this law mean? The EAC administration will simply use this law to further crack down on our freedoms – to stop dissent against them. We wouldn’t be able to even speak up without the school stifling our rights. This is the revival of a time when our admin only listened to people it only wanted to hear from and a time when our publication was corrupted to serve them.

For our government, who speaks big about transparency and accountability, signing this law is a major step back without our president even knowing it. Some of our government officials have invested time to establish a social media presence to better interact with the public. If we make honest criticisms against them, would the authorities use this law to smoke them out? It is understandable that the law aims to stop crimes that have become too apparent in today’s wired world. Punishing those who commit online piracy, child pornography, cybersex, identity theft, proliferation of spam and plagiarism we can take but online libel we cannot. What is our government afraid of? That a redux of EDSA Dos done like the Arab Spring – a series of revolutions that spread like wildfire over social media – would come their way? Are they shaking in their boots now that the people have spoken up? They do, they just don’t want to admit it.

We have the power to be responsible in what we post as long as what we publish is backed up by solid evidence – but suddenly declaring it a crime to criticize wrongdoings or speaking up for our rights is the height of stupidity. Are we going to wake up one day and log in to our Facebook accounts to find a subpoena in our inbox – worse, we can’t even access the site at all? We may not care how countries like China and Iran treated their netizens and exercised their Internet controls, but this in all honesty we can say … it is not that farfetched for our short-sighted government and security apparatus to emulate how they did it. And this is a country who has one of the freest democracies in Southeast Asia and started a trend in non-violent revolutions long ago, not to mention being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, no less!

Eto ba talaga ang gusto mong Daang Matuwid, PNOY? Daang itinuwid sa paglilipol ng mga pambabatikos sa iyong pamumuno? Daang itinuwid sa pamamagitan ng isang batas na bigla-biglang napatupad kung kailang may mga mas importante pang panukalang nakabinbin sa Mababang Kapulungan? Sana makatulog ka ng mahimbing at hindi ka multuhin ng mga magulang mo ngayong gabi, dahil kung buhay pa sila, kahit sila hindi rin sasangayon sa ginagawa mo.


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