Business, Economics and Jobs

Philippines: click "like," go to prison


A Filipino student browsing Facebook in Manila on May 14, 2012.



Online trash-talking in the Philippines just got a lot riskier.

Among a sweeping set of harsh codes in a new Philippine cyber-crime law is a clause that could conceivably help lock up Internet users for 10-plus years over a Facebook "like" or a "re-Tweet" on Twitter.

Filipinos are Facebook mad and constantly mashing out status updates on their mobile phones. According to comScore, an astounding 96 percent of Internet users in the Philippines also frequent Facebook.

Politician's attempts to regulate the Internet's topsy turvy nature are partially motivated by a rise in truly abusive activity, namely coerced cybersex performances by young Filipinas, a phenomenon profiled by the BBC.

This portion of the law, however, is going over like a lead balloon. If one person posts so-called "libel" on Facebook, anyone who helps spread the message can end up with them in jail for more than a decade. One click could ruin a person's life.

It goes without saying that criminal libel laws are notoriously abused by those in power to shut up their pesky detractors.

That's why a petition to undo the law, submitted by self-proclaimed Filipino "netizens," likens the bill to a "crude tool to bludgeon their most cherished and jealously guarded fundamental civil rights" while warning it will "shepherd the nation to the Cyber Dark Ages."

In Business, Economics and JobsPoliticsScience, Tech & EnvironmentTechnologyLifestyle & BeliefOn Southeast Asia.

Tagged: AsiaPhilippines.