PIFA Files 15th Petition vs. Cyber Martial Law
The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) – a broad alliance of organizations and netizens – has filed before the Supreme Court on Monday (October 8, 2012), just a few minutes before the end of office hours, the fifteenth petition against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Republic Act 10175.
Petitioners asked the high court to issue a “Status Quo Ante Order and/or writ of preliminary injunction” to make government “observe the status quo prevailing before the enactment and effectivity of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.”
PIFA claims that its members have “legal standing to sue” because of the “chilling effect” that impacted on their online activities beginning October 3 – when RA 10175 took effect – subjecting netizens to “unwarranted electronic surveillance” by the Philippine government 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Section 12 of RA 10175 provides for “real-time collection of traffic data” which, the petition explains, “refers to [the collection of] ‘any computer data other than the content of the communication, including, but not limited to, the communication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying service.’ …[which] includes information on the identity of the person sending or receiving computer data.”
“Petitioners have legal standing to file this petition as individual and juridical persons who are lawyers, Internet users, taxpayers, subscribers of Philippine telecommunications companies, bloggers, writers, artists, citizen journalists, traditional media persons with an online (Internet) presence, and concerned citizens,” the 61-page petition reads.
PIFA scores the Cybercrime Prevention Act as “an undue abridgment of the freedom of speech, expression, and of the press” which “authorizes government to conduct an unreasonable search and seizure,” and decries that it “violates the right to privacy of communication and correspondence.”
PIFA warns that “the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act will clog the dockets of our courts arising from a deluge of frivolous lawsuits,” zeroing on Section 6 which raises the penalty for “all crimes” in other penal statutes as long as committed with the use of information and communication technologies.
PIFA said RA 10175 is “contrary to the guarantees of equal protection under the law” and “acts an ex post facto law” while also violating public international law. The petition also pointed out that the United Nations Human Rights Council has recently recognized just last July that the “freedom of expression on the Internet” is a “basic human right.”
The petition explains that even if Congress does amend the law, such corrective legislation would still “not render the issues moot, because [the violations] are capable of repetition, yet evading review.”
The petition also points out that the Cybercrime Prevention Act contradicts the Constitutional mandate for a “balanced flow of information under a policy respecting freedom of speech and of the press.”
Blogger-petitioner Noemi Lardizabal-Dado delivered this statement for her group, Blog Watch Citizen Media: “We believe RA 10175 only increases the lavish power of Philippine libel laws, and that the United Nations Human Rights Council is correct in calling Philippine libel law ‘excessive.’ We join with groups opposed to the Cybercrime Law to amend or repeal the law. We welcome engagement with government so that we can craft a better law which protects women and children and which strives for equal protection for everyone.”
Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) founder Ime Morales said, “As an organization, FWGP believes that RA 10175 is unconstitutional and was pushed to serve certain business interests; and we will continue to fight for our rights as writers and netizens of this country.”
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Read petition @ pifa.ph
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