The dark days of SOPA and PIPA are behind the US, at least temporarily as copyright tycoons reground and restrategize, attempting to come up with measures that don’t cause the entire internet to shut down in protest.
But one country has already moved ahead with similar legislation. The government of the Philippines has passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which on the surface, as usual, sounds perfectly well-intentioned. But when you read the actual contents of what’s been deemed “cybercrime,” SOPA’s proposed censorship sounds downright lax by comparison.
Yes, there’s the usual hacking, cracking, identity theft and spamming, which most of us can agree should be illegal. But there’s also cybersex, pornography, file-sharing (SOPA’s main target) and the most controversial provision, online libel.
Now, as someone who has been the target of many a vicious attack from commenters or forum posters, I can understand frustration with the nature of online anonymous criticism. But to actually try to make such a thing illegal? You wade into dangerous waters that anything resembling freedom of speech will likely drown in. And that’s overlooking the free speech implications trampled by banning pornography and file-sharing as well, two provisions getting less attention due to the severity of the libel section.
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Over the past few weeks, Filipinos online have been trying to raise awareness over the potentially dangerous provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012.
Under the guise of campaigning against cybersex, hacking, identity theft and other online crimes, the Philippine Congress passed a law, approved by President Aquino, which contains provisions which go counter to basic human freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and even the Philippine Constitution.
And it would seem that the campaign have fallen to deaf ears as the Supreme Court earlier today refused to issue a restraining order against the implementation of the law (which takes effect just an hour from now). The high court has yet to render its judgment on seven petitions against the law filed by various lawyers, journalists, bloggers and human rights activists.
I do hope that just like what happened during the protests against SOPA, where everyone on the net regardless of country and region, voiced out objections against the repressive measure, social media users from different parts of the world would also express sympathy against the passage of the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Law. Then again, that might also be too much to ask for.