My response to the Palace statement on the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 10175)

I have always called out the President, or at least his Communication group on how “social media would improve the communication processes between government and its people.” Blog Watch welcomed this opportunity to engage with government. Jane Uymatiao even added that it “signals a paradigm shift and acknowledges the growing role that bloggers can play in good governance and reportage. Second, it reinforces my own hope that the incoming administration is walking the talk about transparency and openness. After all, bloggers potentially would have diverse opinions on different issues and the Aquino administration has all the opportunity to listen to a group of citizens (young and wise in years) who will call it as they see it.”

Unfortunately, our requests  were never granted. This did not stop Blog Watch from continuing to advocate constructive engagement with the social media users in government.

Opportunity for reasonable discourse

With the new Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175) now effective, the Office of The Presidential Spokesperson issued a statement that “we believe there is an opportunity for reasonable discourse between concerned stakeholders and the Department of Justice. This dialogue can address stakeholder concerns as the Implementing Rules and Regulations are drafted. We urge the fullest and widest participation of stakeholders in this process.”

While I appreciate the government’s efforts to respect our constitutional right, I cannot be complacent without the Implementing Rules and Regulations in place. Most of the netizens have always been ready to help the government. Juned Sonidoadds that “a lot of what the Government labeled as critics would be more than willing to join in discourse. Just set the date and we will be there.”

Cocoy Dayao is also appreciative. “We have a government that does listen. We have senators coming out to say: let’s talk. These are the very people who passed this law. And they are coming out to ask: if we did wrong, tell us. Let’s talk. Let’s hash things out. Let’s fix it”, says Cocoy.

I am willing to sit down with the relevant agencies concerned. Even as I write this, I am in touch with legislators who want to amend the contentious provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Law and promote internet freedom.

Speaking out

The spokesman called out on the critics of the Cybercrime Act “to speak out against online vandalism and bullying with as much vigor and passion as they have expressed in their objections to certain provisions of this law. If our freedoms have been hard won, it would do us all well to remember that in the end, vigilantism harms the cause of freedom of expression and civil liberties for all netizens.”

I understand the frustration of the persons behind the online vandalism but I do not agree with these methods. Like most netizens opposed to the Cybercrime Law I believe the law needs to be amended, and or repealed. There are many ways to express anger or frustration Anger that leads to a positive resolution is what I strive for. That is one reason I joined thePhilippine Internet Freedom Alliance , the Black Tuesday Protest and the PH Netizens Bill of Rights Working Group. Many netizens are involved.  Carlo Ople wants to pressure Senators to amend/repeal the Cybercrime Law and show this through a microsite calledInternetfreedom.ph

Jego Ragracio points out that admitting to the mistake of passing the law andencouraging more debate is all well and good, but whether you agree with the law or not, its inherent dangers cannot be denied. Jego believes that defacing websites, does not justify the restrictive and objectionable provisions of R.A. 10175 and give its proponents the chance to go, “See? That’s why this Act has to stay as it is – to get offenders like you under control and put you in your place!” In the end it is self-defeating, pointless, and an abject waste of time. Worst of all, it muddles the issues and distracts from what we ought to focus on.

The key word is focus.

Cocoy emphasizes

 

Ideas not DDoS will win the day. Constructive debate, not DDoS will win the day.”

I agree with my fellow bloggers Juned, Cocoy , Jego and like bloggers who continue to be consistent in not condoningacts of hacking. Defaced sites deprive citizens access to information and forum for discussion.

Any netizen who agrees that the Cybercrime Prevention Act is dangerous to our rights to freedom of speech and privacy can find many things to do that are constructive.

We need fairness and equality. Second: sign a petition before the Supreme Court, if you can not, call your representatives, write to them— or even the President, and make them care. Third: inform and educate people about the Internet. Why is this law wrong? Fifth: Engage government in constructive, and well-informed debate. Lastly, join us in crafting a magna carta for Internet freedom. This is transformative action. Ideas, not DDoS will win the day.

 

We welcome engagement with government, to craft a better law that protect women’s and children; that strive for equal protection for everyone.

 

 

Let’s use the power of social media to spread the word. Long live Internet Freedom!

 

Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Images from the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance. Some rights reserved.


 

 

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