Excellent record marred: Freedom House reports on Philippine Internet Freedom

In its 2013 “Freedom on the Net” report, Internet watchdog Freedom House noted how Philippine Internet Freedom suffered a major blow in 2012: “People in the Philippines enjoy nearly unrestricted access to the internet. There have not been any reports of the government systematically blocking access to online content. This excellent record was marred in September 2012 by the passage of an anti-cybercrime law boosting official powers to censor and monitor internet users without judicial oversight.”

The Philippine experience mirrors the global trend toward proliferation of laws, regulations, and directives curtailing freedom of expression online. According to Freedom House, global internet freedom has been in decline for the three consecutive years tracked by the project. In 2012, Freedom House found that 34 of the 60 countries assessed have shown deterioration in online rights. Unfortunately, thanks to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the Philippines counts as one of them. The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) offers a glimmer of hope as it seeks to repeal RA 10175. However, Freedom House laments that “[I]t is not clear how much support Santiago’s bill may attract, and passing a bill in the Philippines can take months or even years.”

The report also highlighted issues affecting the use of the Internet and ICT: obstacles to access due to the business policy environment; challenges in governance; and the digital divide, especially as regards rural ICT. The report offers a damning insight into the Philippine ICT: one that is mired in industry monopoly, inflated costs, absence of anti-trust laws to promote healthy competition, and highly bureaucratic institutions engaged in turf wars.

Democracy.Net.PH believes that because #MCPIF is a bill anchored on rights, governance, development, and security, it provides the holistic framework that addresses the issues raised by Freedom House. Freedom House noted the long road ahead for the passage of the MCPIF. While the bill may have found worthwhile champions in Congress, it will take vigorous online and offline support to push for its passage.

Get involved.

Join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Democracy.Net.PH/
Or visit Democracy.Net.PH official website: http://democracy.net.ph/

Download the full report here: http://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/resources/FOTN%202013_Full%20Report_0.pdf
Freedom House official website: http://www.freedomhouse.org/