Freedom Limitations on Senate Bill No. 53

As we face the virtual challenge of computer world, the country has taken a big leap for Internet regulation. Although numerous stakeholders have given different kinds of reactions and goal oriented results but most of them believe that regulation in the use of the internet is far much to be achieved.

When the Philippines filed the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom or MCPIF, stakeholders are adamant that constitutional freedoms should also be protected.
Good enough that the right of every citizen to showcase their insights and opinions to the internet is particularly addressed. Provided, such right to petition the government for “redress of grievances” must not go beyond the limitations of freedom of speech which can be contained especially if there exists a clear and present danger that the state ought to prevent.

Although now we have all the freedom to publish materials or upload information to the internet—a move that would benefit all of us—then there should also be a need to contain false statements that can destroy one`s image, credibility and integrity especially when such person is not a public figure at all. So, why not put more pressure by not infringing to one`s constitutional rights or in violation of letter d section 4 of the bill on removing one`s own published content or uploaded data when such contents need for further validations and rectifications. Hence, if that person has the capacity to remove from the internet the specific content or data, then he should be compelled to do so as such public information can make the subject person a target of unsolicited personal criticisms. If there is a will, then there is a way to easily access the search engines like Google to block or delete unnecessary articles in the internet maliciously imputing a certain private individual.

Section 5 of the bill guarantees state protection and promotion of universal access to the internet creates a huge impact when it comes to country`s economic viability. It has been said that the progress of the country is gauged on how accessible the internet is to the people regardless of their status in life. Under this section, the bill has designated certain parameters of internet accessibility. As such, regulations should also be implemented to children of minor age especially in accessing to pornographic sites and other violent online games in addition to the exceptions laid down in paragraph (i) of section 5 in which upon courts discretion, a person’s right to unrestricted access may be suspended. To ensure inaccessibility on restricted sites unsuitable for children, there is a need to provide an effective tool to block these sites. Some have already provided an effective tool to prevent children from viewing pay-per-view porn through valid credit cards. Sad to say, there are more than 26 million porn sites and most of these have yet to be killed by paid subscriptions.

The risk assumed attendant to removal of a code under paragraph (b) of section 6 that restricts the operation of the device must be emphasized that modification of the component or configuration and code prior to the purchase shall not only be a cause to a waiver of the warranty but an offense to prevent potential criminal acts of individual’s property rights.

The government should be wary about this. Otherwise, the increasing volume of index and non- index crimes will continue. In Metro Manila alone, cases of robbery with homicide under article 294 of the Revised Penal Code continue to rise. One concrete example is the killing of advertising manager Kristelle “Kae” Devantes last September 7, 2013. The arrested suspects claimed they were only planning to take Devantes’ car, laptop and cell phone, but ended up killing her.

Thieves can easily sell their loots to surplus dealers, buy and sell stores and bazaars which provide services that can modify and unlock security codes of cell phones and laptop computers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Filipino regular surplus buyers who continue to patronage this scheme as most these stolen items sold to surplus dealers are much cheaper in price.

Filipinos are so much fascinated with Facebook as one of the effective and useful communication tools among social media outlets available in the Internet. They can chat here for free, browse pictures of stolen memories and submit different types of applicable communications in order to oscillate with the high technology trend that the world now fluctuates. As an effective tool of communication, it takes a role of a utility. And, as government regulates Meralco and Maynilad as utilities, Facebook should also be regulated.

There was once a proposal by a group of scholars calling for a people`s term of service agreement for Facebook. In an article published by Tim Berners-Lee, he stressed that the settlement would be a jointly conferred contract that replicates some shared and common patrons` urgencies by saying that captivated users and consumes activists would widely dispute their unanimity imports by plunging them into model contract. It boils down to the point that contracts could be independently improved and the users have the right to have all of their resources constantly scored. Hence, users, should have a spot-on reparation for marketable use of the user`s names thereby attaining discretion which implies that companies promise not to disclose personal information will be sustained particularly to intermediaries unless users meaningfully opt into such disclosure for each party. (Melbert, Ari. “Fighting Facebook, a Campaign for a People`s Terms of Service.” The Nation 22 May 2013. Web 14 April. 2014)

Surprisingly, such parameter could also be a medium of enforcement of the Bill of Rights online or through the internet. Using the doctrine again laid down in the content based restrictions, if the nature of the free speech creates a clear and present danger of a substantive evil then it should be regulated. The articles to be posted should automatically be deleted like what the administrator does in the search engine Wikipedia, where articles are carefully funnelled and can be deleted if posted without enough reliable sources available in the Internet. Haters and bashers should be avoided as they could degrade one`s personality. Thus, the authority of the State to suspend one`s right to unrestricted internet access should not only confine solely to the courts but can also be exercised by any government agency contrary to paragraph (d) of section 5.

As a movie fanatic, I learned how to explore the beauty of the internet especially free online movies and television series. But, these sites have certain terms of services which need to be clarified. This is necessary in order that users of the Social web could claim publicly that these ultimate rights, which includes but not limited to the clarity of terms of service, the hegemony of users, the apportioning of their data and certainty of privacy change, should be put into proper context.

As far as the issue of protection of one`s privacy looms is concerned, outlining it as a core and vital discussion in the introduction of magna carta for internet freedom, it is to be suggested that protection against potential traditional labor exploitation should be given effect.

We heard about moves against feasible violations on intellectual property rights, guarantee and safety against one`s privacy, clarity on some technical issues, durableness and reliability to cope up with the world trend but the very much needed government`s emphatic wise move to fortify and shelter the circumstances of on line workers is expressively vague. The fact that enactment of labor legislation is dedicated to protect Filipino workers from the mighty and to correct the injustices that are inherent in employer-employee relationship, these hallmark Philippine labor laws will definitely go to waste if not properly handled well in coping up with the vulnerability of falling as preys from internet predators and victims of web scams such as internet fraud. In an article published in the internet, a brilliant mind highlighted an idea that there are great chances of losing potential job opportunities among online job seekers using the internet should government fails to act on it. Online job seekers should possess and appreciate the same fortifications as workers who do not employ internet as their routine and absolute edge for their daily grind. A mutual customary is essential for the advancement of vocation on line and valuation giving set of limitations and restraints upon the worker. (A Magna Carta of the Web Must include Labor Rights, – Trebor Scholz “journalism”)

Freedom of speech lodges the highest ranking in the hierarchy of values in the bill of right. In law school, the first thing instilled to my mind is the fact that indeed, no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the kindred rights of individuals and groups within our society. Well, it should be well respected as our main weapon to expose irregularities when it comes to tyranny and different kinds of abuses especially to crooks in the government. It sets forth demand that necessitates the clear understanding that classically a law possesses the supposition of constitutionality albeit rigid and painstakingly anatomize its legality under own constitution. I agree with Miriam Defensor-Santiago`s insights when she answered to some queries on Online libel, Cybercrime Law, MPIC, PDAF Scandal, DAP dated February 2014, that while it is true that when in doubt, a law is presumed constitutional before the courts and while our very own magistrates have endorsed ways of indulging character assassination under different provisions, the importance given by the bill of rights to the freedom of speech and above the philological of the law itself, inside the structure that no law shall be passed curtailing the freedom of speech should be accentuated. Divergent to the conjoint hypothesis in support of laws in general, any directive or regulation to that effect in contradiction on freedom of speech is apparently unconstitutional.

I also agree with Santiago`s analysis that Online libel is identical to any of the conventional, if not customary configurations of media. Due to its vast influence which is now outlined in the internet, most of the time it fashions an unpolished gaffe in the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the traditional media against that of the social media. She stressed that these are two wholly and absolutely two different kinds of cosmoses as they don’t function within the same realm as the orthodox tri media like radio, TV and print. In this particular category of avenue, an individual may take ample time before he can answer any character assassination spearheaded by his enemy using the internet. In short, if someone has successfully smeared or defamed another using the web, that person attacked may find teething troubles and exertions to rectify and air his side against technical hitches especially one who is not that capable of accessing the sweats of computer know-hows.

On issues concerning the doctrines of vagueness and overbreadth as two important issues on libel pointing out that one can hardly know who are covered by it, the question on the identity of the sender, the service provider, the individual netizen, or a particular group remains to be answered. I adhere to the brilliant senator`s answer when she underlined that this particular issue must be given legal significance with legal basis enshrined within individual`s constitutional rights. Worse, Santiago underscored, that if they are not using true identities, how are we going to go beyond what they professed to be their identities in the internet? That, I believe is the main problem today. Moreover, It lays down the more insignificant features of overbreadth when the said law, Santiago anxiously said, has grasped almost all legal avenues that one cannot now distinguish the basic principle that the law should be confined within its limits. The senator further said that this law plus the interpretation of the Constitution makes this field so open that you no longer have any clear voice or signals on where the line ends or begins. So, if someone publicizes a libellous article against another, it is very difficult for that person to receive equal space and equal time because the illicit fortune of his or her enemy makes him or her so rich that she or he is virtually outside the reach of our judicial system. But, that does not apply on the internet. On the internet, if someone posts a blog or tweet, or someone comments against you, you have the full right to answer and defend yourself immediately. In traditional media, the sad part is, sometimes critics ask for payment or “bribes” just to make them stop from criticizing people, regardless if the criticism is true or not. That is the main difference between the internet and traditional media with respect to the crime of libel. It is a vast universe unlike the restricted universes of traditional media. (Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago)

It was so pleasing to hear when the Philippine Supreme Court declared that the libel clause in the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act is deemed constitutional, ending the abuses spearheaded by some abusive individuals who engage defamatory posts on the internet. Now, they can go to jail if they continue to defy this landmark decision of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, only the original author can be accused and if found guilty can be sent to jail withholding any liabilities to those who like, share or comment on the post. Again, let me stress, freedom can always be abused. In our country, different kinds of freedoms written in our constitution are applied so cumbersomely without thinking that too much exhaustion of these freedoms can already hurt people`s lives. Still, a lot of questions are raised that the libel clause is absurd. But let me clarify that it is illogical and incongruous if the victims of malicious imputations are private individuals and not of course government officials and public figures whose criticisms are directed against how uncouthly handle their respective responsibilities especially in mishandling public fund and abuse of authority.

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One Response to Freedom Limitations on Senate Bill No. 53

  1. Pingback: Students’ Take: MCPIF (SB 53), Data Privacy Act (RA 10173) | Berne Guerrero

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