Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged free speech

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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President Obama addresses the 67th U.N. General Assembly in New York with a focus on quelling violence spreading abroad.

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.

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Sean Faircloth is author of Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All & What We Can Do About It. Faircloth describes what the US government, and you, must do to protect human rights violated by religion in remarks delivered before the Tri-City Freethinkers in Kennewick, WA Sept 16, 2012. Faircloth helps organize the secular movement as Dir. of Strategy & Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science US.

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At so-called cryptoparties, people are getting together to share tools to protect their own online privacy. By learning the basics of PGP, Tor and other tools, even just regular, run-of-the-mill computers users can learn how to protect their privacy when doing anything they’d like online, even if they might not think they have anything to hide. What does the need for cryptoparties say about the current status of digital privacy? Brian Duggan of the Open Technology Institute joins RT’s Meghan Lopez for more.

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The editor of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera has defended the decision to publish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Stephane Charbonnier told Al Jazeera his magazine has a problem, when it comes to Islam, by receiving an indignant or violent reaction.

He says nothing wrong has been done, his magazine has not infringed French law, as they have the right to use their freedom as he understands it.

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