Lawmakers defend libel provision in cyber law
If making malicious, unsubstantiated statements in print or broadcast is punishable by libel, then doing so online must be penalized as well.
Lawmakers on Wednesday came to the defense of the inclusion of libel as among the punishable acts in the recently signed Cybercrime Prevention Act, saying that it serves to protect individuals from those who exceed the bounds of freedom of expression in the Internet.
The new law lists libel as one of the punishable acts.
This provision has had media organizations and a youth sector representative up in arms.
Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said the cybercrime law was supposed to be used by law enforcement agencies against hackers, cybersex operators, and groups involved in credit card fraud and the sending of spam and viruses.
But with libel a cybercrime, politicians can hale to court their online bashers, and say that the “virtual protesters” pose a threat to their life and property.
“Censorship will lead to repression once an activist or reform advocate has been labeled a cybercriminal,” Palatino said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said the law boosted the country’s libel law that should have been abolished in the first place.
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