At the iBlog7 gathering last year, I gave a talk on whether there was a need for a Philippine Bloggers Association. However, I encouraged the audience at the event not to jump to any judgment too soon. Saying “no” at that time, without fully appreciating its possibilities and issues, I thought, may make it hard for them to take an initiative to support it when the real need for it comes.
One of these initiatives is on new legislation or any forthcoming government rules where a collective voice would eventually be needed.
At that talk, I shared my personal experience with the Cybercrime bill, which was being lobbied for legislation, as far as I can remember, since early 2000. Back then, I kept sharing what former Senator Raul Roco said to the people in one hearing, who were trying to amend the Intellectual Property Code: he said that we need to give legislation some time to be in effect and prove that it is not as effective in curtailing the offenses it intends to penalize.
During those years, effort has been made by various parties to help law enforcement get the support they need to implement the cybercrime enforcement provisions under the E-Commerce Law, and other related legislations. Different groups and personalities come and go — all pushing for its passage. As much as my hands were full in other undertakings, I wasn’t as publicly supportive of these efforts, thinking that it is time for others to experience the lobbying process that requires patience, a lot of thinking, public awareness, and consultations.
However, after attending a Certified Ethical Hacker class in March 2011, I should have done otherwise after realizing that hacking tools could easily be brought in the country, as there is no importation restriction on these devices.
If there are parties who are unsatisfied to the end result of the Cybercrime and Data Privacy Laws, but did not take an active stance when it was being lobbied, in my opinion, the right to complain is not there anymore.
I recall what former DOST Secretary William Padolina said to us back then when we were asking the status of the E-Commerce bill in 1998: if you can’t take the effort to go to Congress and Senate yourself and talk to legislators, then you deserve the kind of laws you have right now. That advice made me active in lobbying for the Y2K Law and E-Commerce Law when they were still in both houses of Congress.
Looking at the Cybercrime and Data Privacy Laws that were just passed this month, I welcomed these legislations with open arms as their time has come. Commendation is well-deserved to the personalities who worked hard in making sure they become a reality. Lobbying for a piece of legislation is not a walk in the park. It is all about personal sacrifice, especially to the private individuals who are doing it with the belief that it will benefit the country as a whole.
It also sends a serious message that those who take Filipinos’right to their data, and how it is handled or even abused, can be made accountable beyond what the DTI Department Administrative Order #8 could do. There are things that you just can’t sweep under the rug. The new laws will require violators to take responsibility for their actions, and give just compensation to those who could be victims of such abuses. Sadly, there are some who take this legal perspective as a joke or even think of it as overrated.
People who have often been cyber-bullied usually find themselves lost on how to fight for their rights online. It’ll be different now with The Cybercrime Act of 2012. The law now ensures that such acts in relation to libel done electronically, if proven in court, will be penalized.
On the part of cybersex — though, maybe an inaccurate jargon was used — it is best to look at the description indicated as that forms basis for any complaint and penalties thereafter. Again, if this is proven in court.
As we are in a new era, where each individual is empowered to use technology to do good — and also do harm — it requires a new set of legislation to protect those who have been helplessly victimized.
Let us look at the opportunity it presents rather than its shortcomings.
Let us be vigilant to ensure it is enforced fairly, and protect those who are using technology for the responsible freedom of expression.