Philippine media groups lamented the government’s decision to pass new legislation on cybercrime, saying that the law will curb press freedom.
Last week President Benigno Aquino signed the law, which provides a legal framework in addressing cybersex and the growing threat of cyber attacks. The law is aimed at “detecting, investigating and suppressing cybercrimes such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography,” Sen. Edgardo Angara, one of the legislators, told AP.
Still, media groups saw some missteps from the administration, particularly in including “libel” as a cybercrime and overlooking the freedom of information act. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines claimed the cyber law is “a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet”. It shows “how restrictive rather than expansive is the mindset of the country’s legislators and of Mr. Aquino himself” in promoting accountability, transparency, press freedom and free expression, AP quotes the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
Mr. Aquino pledged transparency and freedom of information in his governance, but reiterated the need to consider national security and the confidentiality of some government projects. Advocacy for press freedom coincides with deliberate journalist killings in the country, of which there have been six cases this year.