Friday, April 26, 2019

Group pushes for alternative law

A GROUP is pushing for passage of the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) as an alternative to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. 

Democracy.Net.PH drafted the 99-page-long bill, which they said is the first crowdsourced bill in the country. Crowdsourcing is the “practice of obtaining ideas or content by getting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community.”

“The bill can be distilled: your online rights should be the same as your offline rights,” said the group’s co-convenor, lawyer Maria Cecilia Soria. 

It also promotes the use of the Internet and information and communications technology (ICT) for “purposes of transparency in governance and freedom of information.”

Soria and lawyer Francis Euston Acero, lecturer at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila-College of Law, were guests during the 19th Cebu Press Freedom Week forum, “Reaching Out to Future Journalists.” Another convenor, Pierre Tito Galla, was also present during the talk.

Soria, Acero, Galla and the other convenors of the group decided to craft their own bill as an alternative to the Cybercrime Prevention Act. They uploaded the proposed measure to an online documents storage and sharing website to get contributions from other people. Soria said they were surprised by the response and engagement of people.

The MCPIF has four key principles, the group said in its primer: “civil and political rights enshrined in the Constitution should be recognized and promoted in cyberspace;  ICT should be harnessed to improve governance and empower citizens; ICT is a powerful driver of the national economy; and the country should prepare for the security challenges of the future without violating Constitutional rights of citizens.”


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago adopted the measure and filed the proposed law as Senate Bill 3327 on Nov.  12, 2012. 

In the 16th Congress, Santiago re-filed the MCPIF in the Senate as Senate Bill 53 on July 1, 2013. Three days later, Rep. Kimi Cojuangco (Pangasinan, 5th district) filed her own version in the House of Representatives as House Bill 1086.  MCPIF contains “provisions promoting civil and political rights and Constitutional guarantees for Internet users such as freedom of expression, provisions on information and communications technology policy, internet governance, information and communications technologies for development, e-governance, cybersecurity, cyberwarfare, cyberterrorism, and cybercrime.”

The bill promotes universal access to the Internet, right to freedom of speech and expression on the Internet, privileged access to and control of devices, protection of the freedom to innovate and create without permission, privacy of data, security of data, and protection of intellectual property.

It also “protects and promotes the Internet as an open network and network neutrality.”


“No person or entity shall restrict or deny the interconnection or interoperability of a device, an equipment, or a network that is capable of such interconnection or interoperability to the Internet, to other public networks, or to other Internet service providers, telecommunications entities, or other such persons providing Internet or data services, without due process of law or authority vested by law,” the bill reads. 

Santiago, in a GMA news report, said the other features of the bill are the following: 

“- It ensures due process by providing strict guidelines for any collection of any data, including the securing of warrants, obligating notification, and limiting seizure to data and excluding physical property ;

- Mandates government agencies to provide security for the data they collect from citizens to ensure their right to privacy ;

- Provides for court proceedings in cases where websites or networks are to be taken down ;

- Prohibits censorship of content without a court order;

- Prohibits double jeopardy;

- Seeks to clarify the mandate and organization of the proposed Deparment of Information and Communications Technology (DICT);

- Prepares the proposed DICT, law enforcement agencies, and the military with provisions for handling cybercrimes;

- Provides amendments to the AFP Modernization Act to ensure the country has weapons and defenses against cyberattacks by terrorists, violent non-state actors, and rogue or enemy nation-states;

- Mandates the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to combat cyberterrorism.”
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