Cybercrime Act, another move against free speech

Article 3, section 4 of the Philippine Constitution says "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peacably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

Way back in grade school, I looked up the bill of rights in my grandfather's law library and found that passage. Reading it was electrifying. Free speech is protected, wow. I memorized the words, doodled it in my notebooks.

Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act is getting a lot of attention on Facebook now, especially this:

(4) Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

So slagging someone online is technically illegal, the internet hordes are up in arms. But like a lot things in the Cybercrime Act, it's a reiteration of stuff that's already illegal, like forgery etc, plus computers. And as Wikipedia puts it "A notable characteristic of these crimes under Philippine law is the specification that they apply to imputations both real and imaginary." Facts count as libel! And the libel law was always like that, even before the internet! Why is this odious libel law still on the books? Whether online, in print, or carved on freaking stone tablets, free speech should rule.

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