Express Bill of Rights on internet necessary

Express Bill of Rights 
on internet necessary

First case -- Lack of being express, silence in the law, or that the only available means is to infer or deduce from established laws is dangerous in terms of protecting rights.

Second case -- In some occasions, if a system or government or a person is desirous of persecuting is arrogant and unforgivable, even the presence of express protection by laws is not enough.  This is a situation where there is no difference between clarity on one hand and chaos or silence on the other. 

In the second case, I can give my own experience as an example.  My answer to a radio interview was clear to be not libel.  But the Office of the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa ruled that I must be charged in court for libel.  

For sure, this action of the prosecuting agency violated my right not to be prosecuted if there is no well-founded belief that I committed the crime of libel.  And it is for sure that the fiscals there knew it. But why they still proceeded in filing libel case in court against me?  

Well-founded belief means there is an amount of evidence sufficient to have a strong case to have a good chance against scrutiny in court; otherwise an innocent man is made to suffer by spending for paying for bail for temporary liberty, attending prejudicial trial, spending for transportation, which, in my case, I have to buy two round-trip tickets (costing P20,000) for me and my bodyguard just to fly from Manila to attend hearings at Puerto Princesa.

The prosecuting office ruled that I committed the crime of libel in the answer I gave to the question asking what would happen if former mayor Edward Hagedorn can explain why he failed to state his wealth in his SALN.  

I was interviewed by a Puerto Princesa broadcaster after I filed before the Office of the Ombudsman criminal cases of perjury and others after I gathered documents showing he had 59 parcels of land, five corporations, and more than 30 vehicles yet he did not disclose it in his SALN for 2004, SALN for 2005 up to 2012 that he served as mayor.

The answer I gave was from logic. I said: "E di, masi-save sya" (He will be saved.)  I followed this up with a statement that it is required of all public officials to disclose all their wealth for the public to see.

For sure, even these Puerto Princesa prosecutors agreed with me when I insisted it was not libel.  But why they decided to charge me in court for libel with that statement alone?

Then here came the court approving the charge.  It then issued a warrant for my arrest.  Is the court stupid to agree with the prosecutors?  I believe so and I am asking sorry for this to the judge concerned.

Nevertheless, what is important here is that I use this example to stress my point that it is necessary to have express laws giving rights to individuals on their use and enjoyment of the Internet and protecting them against the abuses of the State and conspiring individuals.

The inventor of the world wide web, British Tim Berners-Lee, issued a warning that the freedom of the internet is under threat by governments and corporations interested in controlling the web.

The Philippines is among those governments that want to control the web by passing several laws on e-commerce, cybercrime, cyberlibel, etc.

We know that every democratic country provides strong protection to basic rights of human beings, like freedom to life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness that these can only be deprived of anybody after due process.  These rights are lumped in Article III of the Constitution, or what is otherwise called as "The Bill of Rights."

Due process here means no less than a notice that his or her particular rights are at stake of getting deprived if he or she fails to explain why these entitlements must not be withheld from him or her.

But these rights pertain directly to what human beings could enjoy or exercise.

On rights to use and enjoyment of the internet, there is no such right expressly given under the law.  In defending anybody accused of committing crimes using the internet, lawyers are left with no law to use directly but mere deductions and inferences from the general rights of persons.

At the start, internet was meant only for exchanging messages. Facebook was invented to serve the purpose of social exchanges of ideas and sharing joyous or meaningful events.

But now, internet is the most effective weapon of the citizens in criticizing their respective governments, in checking official abuses, and even in quickly exposing criminal acts accidentally captured by cameras.  

There is no need to emphasize how the web has become a necessity. But to demonstrate one is to cite a picture taken by an innocent girl about those men with guns poking at a white Fortuner on EDSA and this led to a discovery of a big syndicate of police officers already callous in committing the crime of "hulidap" or robbery in the guise of arrest for a crime.

On this note, it is urged of all internet citizens to SPEAK UP and ASK THEIR GOVERNMENTS FOR LAWS PROTECTING OUR WEB RIGHTS. 

In an Inquirer report posted 28 September 2014, it is reported as follows:

Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist who invented the web 25 years ago, called for a bill of rights that would guarantee the independence of the internet and ensure users’ privacy.

“If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life,” Berners-Lee said at the London “Web We Want” festival on the future of the internet.

“If a Government can block you going to, for example, the opposition’s political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power.”

“Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies.”

Berners-Lee, 59, is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a body which develops guidelines for the development of the internet.

He called for an internet version of the “Magna Carta,” the 13th century English charter credited with guaranteeing basic rights and freedoms.

Concerns over privacy and freedom on the internet have increased in the wake of the revelation of mass government monitoring of online activity following leaks by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

A ruling by the European Union to allow individuals to ask search engines such as Google to remove links to information about them, called the “right to be forgotten,” has also raised concerns over the potential for censorship.

“There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying…I want a web where I’m not spied on, where there’s no censorship,” Berners-Lee said.

The scientist added that in order to be a “neutral medium,” the internet had to reflect all of humanity, including “some ghastly stuff.”

“Now some things are of course just illegal, child pornography, fraud, telling someone how to rob a bank, that’s illegal before the web and it’s illegal after the web,” Berners-Lee added.
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