Now, as someone who has been the target of many a vicious attack from commenters or forum posters, I can understand frustration with the nature of online anonymous criticism. But to actually try to make such a thing illegal? You wade into dangerous waters that anything resembling freedom of speech will likely drown in. And that’s overlooking the free speech implications trampled by banning pornography and file-sharing as well, two provisions getting less attention due to the severity of the libel section.
Via CBS, a senator who opposed the bill explains its potential ramifications:
“If you click ‘like,’ you can be sued, and if you share, you can also be sued,” said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, one of the lawmakers who voted against the passage of the law.
“Even Mark Zuckerberg can be charged with cyber-libel,” the senator said.
The provision, according to Guingona, is so broad and vague that it’s not even clear who should be liable for a given statement online. And if you’re found guilty, get ready to spend up to 12 years in prison.
Guingona poses the question, who exactly is libel for the libel? Is it the person who made the statements? Anyone who reblogged or retweeted them? The website on which the comments were made? Anyone who commented in assent or even clicked ‘like’? The way the law is worded, the Filipino police could actually charge you with simply criticizing them or the government in a way they deem “malicious,” a word very much open to interpretation.