As the world celebrates #InternetFreedomDay today in commemoration of the formation of the broadest coalition in history to stop PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) from being quickly and quietly passed by the US Congress, the Philippines Internet Community remains ablaze in fighting against the Cybercrime Law.
Last January 15, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has started with its oral arguments on RA 10175 or more known as the Cybercrime Law. Protesters have once again marched to Padre Faura to oppose the said law. The Cybercrime Law was passed on September 12, 2012 and has been said to address issues concerning crimes happening on the Internet such as cyber sex, child pornography, identity theft, and libel.
“Is it really there to protect women when even women’s groups have said that the law incriminates women more? Is it really for the good of the people or for their own, personal agendas? We believe that the Cybercrime Law does not answer the problems on the Internet but does more harm than good,” Ayeen Karunungan, spokesperson of the Dakila Artist Collective said.
Sections of the said law have been questioned on its constitutionality. Section 19, also known as the takedown clause, is one provision strongly opposed by the public. It empowers the Department of Justice to restrict and/or take down content without the need for a court order.
A few days before the start of the oral arguments in the Philippines, Aaron Swartz, an Internet freedom advocate, committed suicide in his New York apartment as he faced charges and 35 years on jail for for downloading academic journals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His case against the government was highly criticized by the public, who believes the US government has not justified its case against Swartz.
Protesters in the Philippines have quoted and cited Aaron Swartz and his advocacy for free and open Internet. “Aaron Swartz is an inspiration for Internet freedom activists in the Philippines. Like him, we believe that information should be shared. Like other advocates, we believe that the Internet is a powerful tool in disseminating information and empowering the public. It has made democracy what its should be — participative rather than representative,” Karunungan said.
“The Internet is now threatened by a government that fears the power of its people. Internet freedom will be in our hands, but only if we fight for it. Dakila is one with the international internet community in this struggle, as we battle our own fight against the Cybercrime Law in the Philippines.” Karunungan added.
The solicitor general is to reply on January 22 and the temporary restraining order on the law will be lifted on February 6. Petitions have been made requesting for the extension of the TRO.
Image via Accessnow.org