Philippine leader defends controversial 'cyber libel' law

Feb 19, 2014
Filipino youths gather at an Internet cafe in Manila on February 18, 2014

Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday defended a controversial cybercrime law penalising online libel, a day after the top court upheld its legality in a setback for campaigners who argue it could curb Internet freedom.

The Cybercrime Protection Act was passed in 2012 to stamp out online scourges such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography, but its implementation was suspended after being challenged by various groups.

However the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that one of its most controversial provisions, the section which penalises cyber libel, "is not unconstitutional".

Aquino defended the ruling, saying the law would not be used to stifle dissent in the Philippines, considered to be one of Asia's most freewheeling democracies.

"Will freedom of expression be stopped? I don't think that is the purpose of the law," Aquino told reporters.

"We were taught in school that your rights end where they impinge on the right of others."

Opponents say the law gives the government sweeping powers to curb Internet freedom due to provisions that impose heavy prison terms for online libel—in a country where major protests have been organised through Facebook and Twitter.

Aquino insisted that the law should apply equally to digital platforms.

"If there was libel on TV, said on radio and written in the newspaper, should that be exempted in another format?" he said.

"But I repeat, if you are saying the truth, why would you fear libel?"

While the Supreme Court ruled against a provision giving authorities sweeping powers to shut down websites or record Internet traffic data in real time, it upheld the online libel provisions.

Critics fear the government could misuse the law to go after journalists who report on official corruption.

"By extending the reach of the antediluvian libel law into cyberspace, the Supreme Court has suddenly made a once infinite venue for expression into an arena of fear, a hunting ground for the petty and vindictive, the criminal and autocratic," the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a statement.

Groups opposed to the are set to file a motion for reconsideration but the Supreme Court only rarely reverses its decisions.

Explore further: Philippines' top court upholds 'cyber libel' law

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Philippines' top court upholds 'cyber libel' law

Feb 18, 2014

The Philippines' top court ruled on Tuesday that a cybercrime law penalising online libel is constitutional, disappointing critics who argue it could curb Internet freedom in one of Asia's most freewheeling ...

Philippine Supreme Court suspends cybercrime law

Oct 09, 2012

(AP)—The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended implementation of the country's anti-cybercrime law while it decides whether certain provisions violate civil liberties.

Philippine president defends cybercrime law

Oct 05, 2012

Philippine President Benigno Aquino defended a new cybercrime law Friday amid a storm of protests from critics who say it will severely curb Internet freedoms and intimidate web users into self-censorship.

Media groups, Filipinos protest tough cyber law

Oct 03, 2012

(AP)—Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls Wednesday for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

Philippines appeals to hackers to cease attacks

Oct 06, 2012

Hackers incensed by the Philippines' controversial cybercrime law have attacked government sites that deliver emergency information during natural disasters, an official said Saturday.

Protests at 'dictatorial' Philippine cyber law

Sep 27, 2012

The Philippine government faced a barrage of protests on Wednesday as a cybercrime law went into effect that critics said had imposed dictator-style monitoring and policing of the Internet.

Recommended for you

Instagram photo-sharing service goes down

Apr 12, 2014

Popular photo-sharing site Instagram was not working Saturday, as frustrated users quickly turned to social network Twitter and other web sites to share their complaints.

Authors Guild asks US court to rule against Google

Apr 11, 2014

The Authors Guild says that Google Inc. is stealing business from retailers and has asked a New York federal appeals court to find that the Internet giant is violating copyright laws with its massive book digitization project.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...