[Press Release] Protect and Defend Freedom of Expression Everywhere, including in Cyberspace – HRonlinePH.com

 A group of human rights defenders and bloggers said the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) pending before the U.S. Congress would infringe the freedom of expression.

The Internet has become a vital communications tool which individuals can use to exercise their right to freedom of expression and exchange information and ideas.

The Human Rights Online Philippines (HROnlinePH) said in a statement, “we use Internet as viable platform in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. The HROnlinePH features articles, blogs, news information and photos on human rights. Our site also offers current urgent action and list of links to other human rights online resources.”

“The U.S. Congress, however, is poised to pass a law infringing on freedom of expression. The SOPA and PIPA would allow the U.S. government officials and Internet providers to censor access to any website around the world. These dual pieces of anti-online piracy legislation moving through U.S. Congress threaten the core of what we and other free media websites do like blocking any of us from accessing sites like YouTube, Google or Facebook,” HROnlinePH stressed.

SOPA is designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity. Even without the provision allowing sites to be blocked, the bill would empower the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

HROnlinePH said this legislation would make the U.S. one of the worst Internet censors in the world joining China and Iran. These governments are using increasing sophisticated technologies and tactics which are often hidden from the public censor online content and monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical information about the government and engage in political activities critical to state affairs, which more often than not lead to arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals.

HROnlinePH recognized that freedom of expression can be restricted in “very exceptional cases” like expression involving child pornography, violence against women, incitement to genocide, advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and incitement to terrorism are all prohibited under international laws and statutes.

“But the attempt to restrict Internet access and to cracking down online piracy must be established by law and be in accordance with international human rights standards and must pursue legitimate grounds for restriction as set out in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), that “(e)veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice” and be proven to be necessary and proportionate,” HROnlinePH said.

Every State must ensure that everyone enjoys his or her right to freedom of opinion and expression by maintaining free flow of information on the Internet, and ensuring that the Internet is available, accessible and affordable to all.

HROnlinePH said “we should amplify our voice and increase our ranks in putting SOPA and PIPA back from the brink. The SOPA and PIPA not only dilute and threaten the right to freedom of expression of all Americans and other persons living in the U.S. but everyone around the world.”

“Protect our Right to Freedom of Expression. Stop Internet Censorship!”, HROnlinePH concluded.

Press release
January 22, 2012



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