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B por Bendetta: A protest on cybercrime and bullying


Jake Crisologo | The Philopino

editor’s note: R.A. 10175 or The Cybercrime Prevention act of 2012 was passed by the Senate and House of Representative on June 5,2012 and June 4, 2012 respectively. It was approved on September 12, 2012 and takes effect today, October 3,2012. 

We’ve got a kid held at gunpoint in Colegio de San Agustin (CSA).  We have China, in sheer and annoying audacity, establishing a prefecture in the highly contested Scarborough Shoal. We have Tito Sotto crying out libel because of “kurgs” in Facebook and Twitter, hackers in V for Vendetta masks going into government sites and seizing information, and a kid from UP Business Ad going all weepy because he speaks Taglish and it happens to annoy people.

We’re talking about bullying, people- the sweet, delicious and awful art of bullying. And also the possibility that I may be sued later for what I’m about to write.

Tito Sotto is a stupid man. After obvious plagiarism, shallow anti-RH Bill sentiments, and just sheer stupidity, he is now also responsible for adding the libel clause in the RA 10175. Yes, libel is actually a crime in the Philippines, but the problem with adding it to an Anti-Cybercrime Law is that the internet has its own dynamics that don’t follow normal circumstances of crime.

I’m all up for making cyberspace cleaner, but when they sneaked in that libel clause the Anti-Cybercrime Law became simply undemocratic. The internet is one of the last avenues where we can say whatever we want without fearing anything more than assholes in the internet who don’t agree with what we say. That’s what’s beautiful about the internet: the way that it’s all ours and that it’s self-monitoring in a sense. Curtailing the freedom of speech in such an avenue – an avenue where the flowering of diverse ideas is so prevalent – is stupid because it won’t make us think less nor make us less critical.

It’s funny actually; a law that’s supposed to prevent cybercrime is resulting into more cybercrime, at least following its set definition. Come on. After tonight, does the government think we will simply shut up because of some law that we don’t even really believe in?  Can they even handle all the cybercriminals after today? Just imagine the costs!

We’re being bullied, which is sad because the law should be good. As far as I know, there are provisions that protect identities, prevent cybersex exploitation and the spread of child pornography. But why shouldn’t we be sued for anything that we post online anyway? Why should a hurtful post be more excusable when it’s on the internet?

In my opinion, again, it’s because the internet follows its own dynamics and there’s such a thing as netiquette. The internet follows its own mechanism to monitor content and discussion. I admit that it’s not perfect and that it has its problems. In some countries, cyber-bullying is so extreme that many young people have committed suicide after constant “kurging” and threats on the internet. I believe in accountability, but I believe that being held accountable is not and should not always be translated into reprimands from the government.

I think cyber education makes more sense – that we inform people about the nature of the internet, and that it’s a great avenue to find almost anything but it has its dangers as well. There are mean people out there, a lot of perverts, and there’s a lot of shit in the internet. Take the suicide scenario for example, where individuals, especially young ones, are bullied to the extent that they kill themselves.

One way that we can address this problem is not necessarily to take down sites or hold people accountable, but to learn how to deal with all this bullshit in the same way we deal with bullshit in real life. When someone you don’t know talks shit about you, should you really care? How defamatory is the internet when it’s not even that credible to begin with? When we raise and educate kids to be strong and smart about the internet, it shouldn’t be damaging.

What about the government at the mercy of hackers? I don’t think a law could do much to prevent hackers from doing what they do. Personally, I don’t like the way hackers cause a shit-fire of anarchy in pretentious V for Vendetta masks and ruin government sites. I think it’s vain and out of line, and causes more damage than good. But then again, they proved a point and showed that the cybercrime law wouldn’t stop them. My answer? Protect government sites with better mechanisms that prevent hacking, ironically through hiring hackers because they know their shit. Fight fire with Firewall, rhetorically speaking.

In any case, it’s an assessment of values, and of costs and benefits. The libel clause is raising hell in new media, especially because the clause was put there by the idiot who was supposedly “the first senator-victim of cyber-bullying,” to whom I would like to say: Screw you.

The question in my head now is: To what extent do we attempt to protect freedom, that we’re actually killing it?

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012: http://www.gov.ph/2012/09/12/republic-act-no-10175/

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About aitsalimbay

The official newsletter of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism.

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