The Philippine Optical Media Board (OMB) recently proposed to require internet cafe operators to register the hard disks in their computers. According to the OMB, the presence of magnetic components in hard disks makes them fall under the control of the OMB based on the Optical Media Act of 2003.
An association of Filipino internet cafe owners have raised their opposition to the hard disk registration proposal saying that this “will bring the ICT industry as a whole back to the Ice Age.”
JC John Sese Cuneta, commenting on Azrael's Maryland's blog opinion that the proposal is stupid, raised the need for technology-literate politicians in the national elections:
[This s]hows us the need to know who of the candidates are tech and net-aware, so we can vote for them. It's a chain reaction, if we vote for non-tech and non-net-aware candidates, the positions that are appointed will more likely have non-tech and non-net-aware individuals.
In the same thread, Ka_fredo criticized the proposal as another money-making scheme by the government:
Another halfbaked policy from our esteemed non techie presidential appointees. Its another way for them to milk the small cafe owners. Instead of finding out ways to clamp down on violators, they create potential graft ridden income sources.
Philippine parliamentarian and GVO editor Mong Palatino also warned that the proposal “may be used to violate the people’s right to privacy and right against illegal searches and seizures.”
“The very idea that the OMB will have an access to privately owned hard drives is clearly a constitutional violation. It is like subjecting your closet to government scrutiny,” said Palatino.
The possibility that the OMB may check the entire storage device, according to Palatino, will expose all other personal files of the owner.
Meanwhile the proposal only raises more questions for Owning a Cafe:
For those using CD and DVD writers in their i-cafe businesses, the registration of the devices with OMB is already a big hassle because it has to be done only at their current office in Quezon City, Metro Manila. I wonder how the registration of the hard disk would be done? My other question is will the executive order require only the i-cafes to register their hard disks? How about the other businesses and offices that also use computers with hard disks in them?