Not just online libel

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

WITH a week spent reading all kinds of materials online and talking with different people in social media and offline, I realized that online libel was not the only objectionable provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Law.

Least discussed was online file sharing through such peer-to-peer programs as Torrent and Gnutella. It seems only a minority of young Filipinos who freely share mostly programs, apps, music and movies online are alarmed. With the cybercrime law, sharing music and movies even between two friends with no economic gain whatsoever has become illegal.

We have been reading about high-profile lawsuits like what happened to Napster a decade ago. Today, more artists like the popular “Boyce Avenue” are promoting their songs freely on the Internet. Young people–teens and those in their early 20s--would download playlists and play the sounds in their mobile players, phones, and tablets.


We also know that many avail themselves of what are called freeware and shareware. Are our legislators aware that there are also programs considered “open source?” Artists and programmers who support free sharing of their work use file sharing programs for promotions. Our lawmakers should know that most freeware and open source software may be shared along with content found in the public domain.

Majority of cybercrime law critics are bloggers along with inhabitants of Facebook and Twitter. Members of traditional media also joined cybercrime law opposition like members of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ). A Cebu City congressional candidate–the only Cebuano bet so far who seems to understand the issue–expressed his position for amendments. What most alarmed them was online libel.

Net entrepreneurs, on the other hand, found objectionable the DOJ power to automatically shut down a website without a court order.

But our policymakers should note that a proposed ban of file sharing in the US not so long ago sparked an online uprising and pushed American policymakers back.

These legislators, who hardly even personally read their e-mails, or understand the concept of liking, sharing, and tagging on Facebook or recognize the difference between FB status and tweets, have the gall to regulate the Internet.

My eight-year-old daughter knows better. She chats with her classmates on Facebook and, some time ago, I heard her listening to a “Phantom of the Opera” clip she downloaded from YouTube. Last Saturday, Azalea and I tagged along when Doris thanked officers of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ) for their cooperation during the recent Globe Telecom Cebu Media Excellence Awards. After the CFBJ officers led by Ely Baquero passed a resolution against the cybercrime law, Azalea pulled me out of the new Captain A dining area and whispered: “I also don’t like the cybercrime law.”


There used to be no fanfare during the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) in past elections. The candidacy of showbiz personality Annabelle Rama and the Team Rama strategy, however, changed this. While some reports say both Team Rama and BOPK mobilized around 500, I’d say the crowd in the morning was a lot bigger. I was there and, after being involved in organizing rallies before Edsa 1 and being a reporter who covered mass actions, I know how to estimate crowds.

While some described Cutie de Mar’s decision not to run as admirable, I think she gave way to her father Raul because of Annabelle. The Team Rama bet is a known showbiz loudmouth when it comes to exposing skeletons of enemies. We know Cutie would rather face somebody who would not throw the first stone.

At Cebu City’s south district, former congressman Tony Cuenco surprisingly showed up to accompany Totol Batuhan when he filed. Unknown to many, the two, who are both residents of Barangay Guadalupe, had reconciled away from the media limelight. BOPK’s Bebot Abellanosa, on the other hand, continued to avoid calls for a debate insisting that Batuhan has been in Manila for so long and does not know the local situation.


Rep. Eddie Gullas succeeded in ensuring that no serious LP candidate would contest his grandson Samsam’s congressional bid. Meanwhile, the P400 million from the pork barrel of Rep. Tomas Osmeña has yet to translate into something political. Eddiegul’s mayor allies still profess support for PJ Garcia, the One Cebu standard-bearer in the province, instead of LP’s Junjun Davide.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2012.


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