The United Nations Human Rights Council published a Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In a nutshell, the report says Internet access is a ‘fundamental’ human right.
“In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges states to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws,” he said.
La Rue also said he is deeply concerned that websites of human rights organizations, critical bloggers, and other individuals or organizations that disseminate information that is embarrassing to the State or the powerful have increasingly become targets of cyber-attacks.
“When a cyber-attack can be attributed to the State, it clearly constitutes, inter alia, a violation of its obligation to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Although determining the origin of cyber-attacks and the identity of the perpetrator is often technically difficult, it should be noted that states have an obligation to protect individuals against interference by third parties that undermines the enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” he said.
The Philippine House of Representatives is preparing House Bill 383 on “Cybercrime Prevention Act”, which includes provision for Internet libel. The Cybercrime bill is led by former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. The Philippine Star quoted Taguig City Rep. Sigfrido Tinga who said, “while the bill recognizes freedom of expression, it has to be within the confines of what is acceptable.”
The criminalization of libel is often seen as stifling freedom of expression. The passage of the Philippine Cybercrime act that includes defamation will have similar effect.
The Philippine Cybercrime Act is a clear and present danger to freedom of expression.
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