As co-founder of democracy.net.ph, I am very much pleased that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Senate Bill 53), and Representative Kimi Cojuangco (House Bill 1086) have filed The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) in the 16th Congress (Full Text, PDF). It has been a bill my friends and I begun working on during the 15th Congress, and both Senator Santiago and Representative Cojuangco have expressed support for it and in the case of Senator Santiago, refiled it for the 16th.
The MCPIF is a complex undertaking. We believe it is the right vision for the future. It balances rights, governance, development and security. These are the four pillars that we believe are essential building blocks for ensuring that laws like Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 doesn’t happen again, but more importantly, serves as building block for the future. The MCPIF is built on the premise of rights first. The framework of the Constitution and bill of rights first, and everything else flows from that.
The rights portion is very much in keeping with the culture that exist in the internet and to facility that burst of curiosity to build things. We want the state to ensure the continued existence of a free, and open Internet. We talk about concepts like Network Neutrality. These provisions on Internet infrastructure is targeted specifically to help improve the terrible Internet speed and infrastructure in the country, and to leverage it to increase our nation’s GDP. It is about growth and development.
And in as much as all this exist, we provide for strict privacy protection. We’ve thought about it long before PRISM became public. We wanted to lay down the proper rules on espionage and protection on privacy.
We also thought about the recognition of Copyleft, and the extension of automatic copyright to what Filipinos create online.
While we believe the Cybercrime Law is an overreach, we did bake provisions that do fight real cybercrime, but within the framework of that little thing called, due process of law. So we talk about hacking, sabotage, identify theft, hate crimes online, phishing, cracking, Trafficking in Person, and children (Section 51), as well as prostitution (Section 50) and of course, we talked about Internet libel and hate speech (Section 52).
Another feature of the MCPIF is our focus on Cybersecurity and Cyberdefense. We made it unlawful for the state to launch a first strike against an enemy, and we’ve added the capability to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to establish a framework to protect the country from attack. For far too long, we’ve suffered from cyber attacks from nation states and non-state actors, and we believe with the MCPIF, we take the first step in ensuring the ICT infrastructure of not just the government but the country is protected.
One of my favorite provision, and something I am most proud of— and a last minute inclusion— is a provision on Transparency in Governance and Freedom of Information (Section 13). Speaking for myself, I wanted the work that the PCDSPO<, the DOF and others on open government be preserved. It is a brilliant initiative. It is sort of is a mini-FOI. It also defines how data is presented to the public, which I hope journalists can appreciate because we wanted data to be in open format like CSVs and Plain-Text so people can easily parse data.
So yes, we covered a lot of ground, and I hope a real debate begins. There is so much in it that you can’t digest it in a single seating. There are different stakeholders and fluid stake holders. The musicians and artists and writers and the content producers have a stake. The Government and Law enforcement have a stake. The common people who care about Facebook Statuses have a stake, and yes, even Senators like Nancy Binay who feel hurt and attacked would appreciate the provisions we put in place regarding Hate speech, which personally, I think is a better approach than her e-violence bill.
Many of these provisions we’ve thought about for years. This is a bill, crafted by ordinary netizens. People who make a living online. People who use the Internet for their work. People who goof on Facebook. Who tweet everyday. Who rely on the Internet so they can do their day jobs— lawyers, engineers, and professionals from every scope.
In my humble opinion this is how we ought to view the Internet. We respect the cultural traditions that made this a fantastic place, and how we think we should go from here. It is laying down the ground work for what future generations can build upon, and ensuring that a Free and Open Internet exists in the Philippines. It is about doing things right. It is about building an economic future with this beautiful network of networks.