With the Cybercrime Law in effect, democracy is fast becoming more illusory.
The Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law tramples upon our hard-earned freedoms – the right to free speech, the right to free expression, the right to a free press and the right to privacy. Putting restrictions on the internet contravenes our rights guaranteed by the highest law of the land, the Philippine Constitution and violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Philippine government is a signatory.
It is dangerous. The broad and vague definition of cybercrimes renders all citizens, including journalists who are heavy internet users, vulnerable to being charged of the crime. For one, the mere alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document or electronic data message may be considered criminal.
The law also strengthens libel that has been used to muzzle the press. As it is, libel as a criminal offense violates our constitutional rights. The powers-that-be file libel cases against our fellow journalists for the mere exercise of our duty to tell the truth. Cybercrime law has made it even worse with minimum punishment for online libel raised twelve-fold. A mere status update on Facebook may be deemed defamatory and all those who would like and share it may be liable for “aiding or abetting the commission of cybercrime.”
Another monstrous provision pertains to the real-time collection of traffic data. It allows authorities to act as Big Brother in the cyberspace, monitoring electronic activities.
Section 19 of the law provides the Department of Justice the unbridled power to block or restrict access to computer data if found prima facie to be in violation of the law. The Justice Secretary, acting as judge and executioner, may order the take down of any website, or even an account to a social networking site without due process.
The passage of the law, coupled with inaction on bills that promote transparency and openness (i.e. Freedom of Information, Decriminalization of Libel), reveals the paranoia of the Aquino administration. If those in government cannot tolerate the slightest criticism from ordinary citizens, democracy would just be sugar-coated authoritarianism.
For all these reasons, we join the widening clamor for the junking of the Anti-Cybercime Law.
To view the names of the fellows, click here: Fellows of the 15th Graciano Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop