Miriam: SC ruling on anti-cybercrime law lacks understanding of technology

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Calling the Internet as a “marketplace of ideas,” Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday said the Supreme Court (SC) erred in upholding the online libel provision in the anti-cybercrime law.

At a press conference, Santiago said the high court decision on the anti-cybercrime law was “a case of jurisprudence trailing after technology because of lack of understanding.”

“In all, I just think it was a bad idea for the SC to look at the Internet as another form of media. It’s not like radio, TV or print. It is a completely different form,” the senator said.

“On the Internet, if someone calls you names, then you call him back with names too! It’s the marketplace of ideas,” she added.

On Tuesday, the SC declared the online libel provision in the cybercrime prevention law as constitutional, “with respect to the original author of the post.”

The court, however, struck down the provision that empowers the Department of Justice (DOJ) to restrict or block access to data violating the law.

Santiago, a former trial court judge, said the high court should have favored freedom of speech, which is enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution.

“In case of doubt, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the freedom and against the restriction,” she said.

Santiago authored the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, which seeks to uphold the right to security of Internet data, and the protection of the Internet as an open network. The measure is currently pending at the committee level.

The Department of Justice also plans to file in Congress an “enhanced” version of the anti-cybercrime law without a provision on online libel.

On Wednesday, the International Commission of Jurists said the SC’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the law on online libel could stifle freedom of expression. (MNS)

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