The Supreme Court of the Philippines is set to hear oral arguments on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The court will hear it on 20th of January 2013. If you would recall the high court issued a temporary restraining order for 120 days, after 15 petitions were filed before it, mostly seeking in one way or another the scrapping of the law or provisions of the law.
Much of the government’s argument has been that we need this law to fight cybercrime. Many of the arguments of pro-cybercrime law argued that without this law, government can not do their job. Anti-Child Pornography and trafficking laws exist in the Philippines even prior to the Cybercrime Law. Libel likewise exists. Many of the actors supposedly hurt by attacks like being cyberbullied, are hardly cybercrimes— but egos bruised. And much of the propaganda on the Internet is a battle for publishing that has been in play since the printing press began and is no different today, except for the broader audience. What doesn’t exist and still won’t exist even if the cybercrime law is deemed constitutional is a national policy to actually thwart cybercrime, as well as a national cyberwarfare policy.
The truth of the matter is that fighting real cybercrime— cracking, copyright infringement, child pornography, privacy, espionage, financial theft are cross-boarder crimes. It requires finesse, and technology, and requires that actors— whether nation-states or non-state ones are on the network. The need technology, and people with unique skills from developers to network and systems administrators, and everything in between, including social engineering.
So what should be done?
The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom is a broad, first step towards that goal. Simply, this proposed measure filed by Senator Miriam Santiago in the Senate hopes to address the shortcomings of the Cybercrime Law, and lays the foundation for real strategy for Philippine Cyberpolicy. It takes into consideration people’s rights, and from there grows to fight cybercrime, enact cyberdefense, lays the foundation for modernizing Philippine telecommunications and sets the tone for using the Internet as instrument of Philippine economic development. It is the answer to the Philippine government’s need for real cybercrime initiative by setting the right tone and voice. It lays the foundation for cyberdefense— which the world is fast moving. It sets the direction for modernizing Philippine telecommunications— like have you ever been pissed off at the Internet speed in the Philippines? The MCPIF takes a holistic approach to this.
The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom is meant to be a fair, and equitable law that balances rights, development, defense and economics.
“Recognizing that the growth of the Internet and information and communications technologies are vital to the development and flourishing of an “information society,” where anyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, and thus enable individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, the State reaffirms its commitment to the full respect for human, civil, and political rights and the dignity of every human person, and shall guarantee the same in the crafting of laws and regulations governing the use of the Internet and of information and communications technology.”
Don’t you think this is fair and equitable?
We’ve reached a point in this daang matuwid— the “straight road”— that we must “institutionalize” rational thinking, guided by a moral compass that puts what is fair and equitable first. We can no longer afford a nation that is hysterical, and shortsighted. We can no longer afford a nation that looks towards the harried past. We can no longer afford a nation driven by self-interest.
Look at the nation we’ve been in for the past three years. A nation with fewer scandals, and a nation dedicated to building a real society. We’ve recently seen the Reproductive Health Law being passed. We’ve seen the Sin Tax law passed. Real laws for headlines and fewer scandals. Make no mistake that corruption is very much alive in the nation. It is very much, an imperfect society. It is very much a society that has a long way to go. And we have enemies from across the sea who would want to steal from us.
Down the road the battles are many, and the challenges are great. And we need a nation so united, if only in the goal of being a better nation, no matter our ideological differences. The Internet— and the very idea of what the Internet is for our people is a key cornerstone of that future. How we view this boon represents how we can succeed as a nation, economically. To fail to grasp it as a gift that need cultivating will further push our nation as a backwater state. If we wish to be a big boy one day, then our nation must take tentative steps towards that maturity.