Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Facebook

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Many people do not think twice about “liking” their friends’ posts on Facebook. Consenting adults engage in cybersex regularly. Millions more look at legitimate, legal pornography every day. Still more feel free to criticize many things on the internet, ranging from a dislike of a certain celebrity to politics. If you do any of these things in the Philippines, you now risk being sent to jail for it.

On Sept. 12, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which defines several new acts of crimes committed online, including, among others, “cybersex,” identity theft, hacking, spamming, and pornography.

“If you click ‘like,’ you can be sued, and if you share, you can also be sued,” said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, one of the lawmakers who voted against the passage of the law.

“Even Mark Zuckerberg can be charged with cyber-libel,” the senator said.

The provision, according to Guingona, is so broad and vague that it’s not even clear who should be liable for a given statement online. And if you’re found guilty, get ready to spend up to 12 years in prison.

“Who is liable? It isn’t clear. The one who made the original post? The ones who share? The ones who tweet? Even you, if you post a simple, ‘hehehe,’ right? Does that mean you agree?” Guingona said.

Many Filipinos are ignoring the new law and going online to protest and criticize the government for its actions. Those opposed to the law say that it threatens free speech online. In response, several hackers have also defaced government websites while others have filed petitions in the supreme court to have the law overturned. There are also those who voted for the law that are now having second thoughts.

At least one senator who voted for the law, Francis Escudero, has acknowledged having glossed over the controversial provision and said it was a mistake.

As with politics in every country, the libel section was added at the last minute. Vicente Sotto III, who added the section because he doesn’t want people questioning his behavior.

“Yes, I did it. I inserted the provision on libel. Because I believe in it and I don’t think there’s any additional harm,” Sotto was quoted as saying in the local news website Interaksyon.com.

Little surprise there, though. Sotto may actually have an axe to grind with the Filipino online community after coming under fire for allegedly plagiarizing an American blogger and the late Sen. Robert Kennedy for his speeches against a controversial family planning and reproductive health bill.

While the government has said that they condemn the hacking of their websites, they welcome any protest done in the proper forum. The problem is they’ve restricted free speech with this law, so where is one to legally protest and who says what forum is proper?

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Facebook’s active-user count is rapidly approaching one billion. The world’s largest social network, which has long been a popular target for cybercriminals, will only become a more relevant outlet for scams and other fraud as it continues to grow. While the target grows, so too does the need to secure our accounts.

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The law is wrong in so many ways. Redditor highguy420 sums it up concisely as to what is to wrong with the law.

The list isn’t even a list of pedophiles. It is people who urinate in public, kids that are exploring their sexuality in a healthy way with age-appropriate partners (i.e. sexting), victims of false accusations gone too far, and also some pedophiles too. The list is so vague as to be useless. Actually, I have to correct myself there, it works to help pedophiles find neighborhoods that have a false-sense of security since no pedophiles live there. So, I can’t say the list is completely useless, it’s simply not beneficial to society in any way.

Something as simple as public urination can put a person in this list. Their lives are ruined because the laws are vague enough that many people believe that you must be a pedophile if you’re on the list. It’s inconceivable why law enforcement continues to put teens, streakers, and drunk people who pee on the side of the road in the same group as rapists and pedophiles, yet they do and they never think of the consequences.

The list is a symptom of a law enforcement system that has no idea how to do their job. It is an ineffective half-measure designed to placate the populace while doing nothing to benefit them. It increases fear and justifies large law enforcement budgets, but does nothing to promote safety. In fact, the list does all sorts of things it wasn’t (publicly) intended to, and fails at the single task it was created for.
These laws are deplorable and unjust. If a sex offender has been released from prison, then the prison is attesting to the fact that their time has been served and they are no longer a danger to their community. It is the job of the prison system to ensure that they have been rehabilitated. To not do so is failing in every aspect of a civilized society.

If they cannot be trusted in society, then they should not have been released. To continue punishing them after they have served their time is inhumane and often forces them to live in clustered communities where they can’t really have a normal life anymore.

If you’re a murderer, identity thief, fraudster, scammer, or any other type of convicted felon, feel free to keep using Facebook and going about your life as normal. You are, apparently, “better” than a sex offender, even if he was just drunk and peed in the bushes.

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Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com, talks about the outlook for Facebook’s initial public offering. Ohanian speaks with Scarlet Fu on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.” (Source: Bloomberg)

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