Cojuangco files House bill for internet users' rights

Posted at 07/04/2013 7:51 PM | Updated as of 07/04/2013 11:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Kimi Cojuangco on Thursday filed the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) as House Bill No. 1086.

Democracy.Net.Ph, a network of Filipino internet users who crowdsourced the bill, said the measure will safeguard people's civil and political rights online and harness the power of information and communications technology for governance, development, and security.

It added that the proposed legislation addresses the constitutional flaws that led to the legal challenges to the Cybercrime Prevention Act now questioned before the Supreme Court.

"With her feisty tweets marshalling support from online advocates during the RH Law deliberations, Rep. Cojuangco understands the value of free expression and the exchange of ideas in the online space," the group said in a press statement.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago earlier filed the Senate version of the MCPIF, which will protect the rights and freedoms of Filipinos in cyberspace, while defining and penalizing cybercrimes.

If passed, Santiago's bill will repeal the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act, or Republic Act No. 10175.

"While it is important to crack down on criminal activities on the internet, protecting constitutional rights like free expression, privacy, and due process should hold a higher place in crafting laws," she said.
 
Santiago said that the MCPIF upholds the right to free speech of Filipinos in cyberspace, unlike the much-criticized Cybercrime Prevention Act.
 
“The MCPIF treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act. It is not overbroad or vague in its provisions on libel, unlike the cybercrime law,” she said.
 
Other sections of the MCPIF promote open government and transparency, as well as protect the rights of women and children online.
 
If passed into law, the MCPIF will be the first law to be created through crowdsourcing, which an online process of getting work done by tapping people on the Internet who volunteer their talent and skills.
 
Santiago said of concerned netizens composed of software designers, IT specialists, academics, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, human rights advocates approached her office with a draft of the MCPIF.
 
The group formulated the MCPIF through discussions in an open Facebook group, email, Google Hangout teleconferences, and social media channels like Twitter.
 
“I call on all our young people to voice their support for this bill through social media. You are our new opinion-leaders. After the RH Bill, we saw how powerful social media can be in advancing our causes,” Santiago said.

Democracy.Net.Ph members urged lawmakers in both houses of Congress to support the MCPIF "and enact a law that will safeguard our civil and political rights online and harness the power of ICT for governance, development, and security."