Last week, I was interviewed by TV Patrol Southern Mindanao for my opinion on the Cybercrime Law (also known as RA 101075). Because I am extremely camera-shy, I wanted to say no. However, awesomeness prettiness Vina Araneta was in a hurry so I acquiesced. In 10 minutes, I read commentaries about it, read the entire act (LOL) and formed opinions on a table napkin. And OHMIGOD, I was mad. That made my camera-shyness vanish in thin air. That law is just crazy.
Before you get to read my opinion, I suggest you read the entire act first. Click this link to access the full text to the act. You may also download it there. Prepare vodka nearby and try not to swear too much.
Here are my top reasons why:
1. The punishments are crazy. Say something “wrong” or “defamatory” on your Facebook status or on your Twitter (160 characters) and you can get jailed for at least 6 years and 1 day. Maximum jail time: 12 years. You know what’s interesting? I found this case online and it talked about someone who was charged of attempted murder and he is given this as punishment: 2 years and 4months to 8 years in prison. If you see an imbalanced equation, you can take two shots of vodka at once. Try to steal your neighbor’s WIFI, Facebook bomb your friend’s profile or Instagram some drunk pictures and you’ll get the same jail time threat. All penalties start at P100,000. Crazy, right?
2. Many redundant parts. There were clauses about cybersex and cyber prostitution which where redundant. For one, prostitution, in the Philippines, is already a criminal act. You can get jailed for participating in this business. Prostitution online is still prostitution because it operates on the same rationale (money in exchange of sexual pleasure). Instead of putting it in the cybercrime act, maybe they should have added that to the prostitution law to reiterate that what’s deplorable is the act of selling flesh, not the fact that they’re using the Internet. Moreover, we already have a law about libel, right? And intellectual property. Maybe we should have strengthened those anyway?
3. Plenty of petty. It’s funny how fancy normal online pranks now sound because of the Cybercrime law. There’s “illegal access”, “misuse of devices” and “cyber squatting”. In the normal people’s life, these could mean “using your friend’s phone to access your Facebook without asking permission”, “miraculously getting into a secured wifi system” and “seemingly similar domain names”, respectively. Now we’ll have less of those witty satire articles we loved so much…and less fun to poke our friends with. And get this, you could still get jailed for years if you commit one of those.
You know what? This law is fucking suffocating. Now we have to take extra care about what we say…even if it’s an opinion. Because if it’s “defamatory in nature” then that’s libel. Let’s take a step back and review why we make new laws. We make new laws because there’s a clamor for them. The problem is so grave and so in-your-face that we have to revisit our laws and add a few (supposedly) very relevant things. Have you seen people dying because somebody stole wifi from them? How many celebrities have pretty shunned online tirades? Even Shaina’s vagina lock scandal died peacefully.
Now, you may say that Internet use has gone haywire because it’s abused by a lot of people. I agree to that. However, there are a lot of Internet-based crimes that are more glaring. For example, hacking (no further emphasis needed), intellectual property protection (Hello Tito Sotto!) and yes, libel is pretty grave too, just go easy on the punishment because we have to establish the damage and juxtapose it to other crimes. Seriously, I still can’t get over the fact that if you are charged of attempted murder, you can get jailed for the same number of years. I also found another online document that says that if you commit low-degree rape, you can also get jailed for the same term. More vodka please.
Moreover, I believe that one of the biggest reasons why many people (not just Filipinos) love to go online is because of it’s openness. We love going online because we get updated about our friends, our family and the rest of the world wherever we are. We get almost-free access to the music, movies and stuff that we love. Because of this openness, the Internet is also self-correcting. If you say something bad or wrong, somebody’s going to point it out and you will suffer the consequences. It will stain your reputation. Now tell me if that’s not punishment for you.
There are a lot of good (read: amazing) things that Internet has brought out. It has made people more vigilant by fast information dissemination and validation. It has kept companies on their toes because anytime, an unhappy client can just post about his experience online and that will cost them a lot of sales and bad PR. It has made people more critical about the art that we see, hear and experience. It has also made a lot of careers—not just jobs—for many Filipinos. See, the Internet plays an important role in shaping our political maturity. Philippine law, please don’t give us such a hard time.
A lot of media people and bloggers are now gaining consciousness on the gravity of the content that we put online. It’s even known in the business that if you are a bad writer/ blogger, people will eventually get tired of visiting your blog and you will die a natural (online) death. And other people who are annoying on Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram? We can easily unfriend/ unfollow them! In a heartbeat. See, we know what to do. We know what to say. All I can say is that, I THINK WE ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THIS LAW. Else, we need to stock on vodka.
By the way, do I risk getting jailed for this? You tell me. Because lastly, how the fuck is the government going to monitor online activity by MILLIONS of people? If you wanna enact a law, you better lay down awesome implementation right? Again, you tell me. 😉