Philippines: Anti-Cybercrime Law Sparks Online Protests

Filipino netizens are stepping up protest actions online for the repeal of a cybercrime law that has been dubbed as “E-Martial Law.” Alluding to the lack of civil liberties under martial law of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the quip sums up the fears of netizens that the said law could be used to repress internet rights and freedom of expression.

Users of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites turned their profile pictures, cover photos, and even status updates black as a sign of protest on October 2, the date the Supreme Court was supposed to hear several petitions against the cybercrime law.

Facebook comments and tweets now come with black shades that render phrases and sentence incomplete to demonstrate how online censorship of social networks under the cybercrime law might look like.

Some websites also voluntarily blacked out their websites in solidarity with the anti-cybercrime law campaign.

The high court failed to act on the petitions because of the absence of some justices and instead decided to tackle the matter next week. Without a temporary restraining order secured from the court, the cybercrime law takes effect this week. Meanwhile, one of the petitions lodged in the Supreme Court, has also been posted in the Internet as an online petition. It has gathered more than 70,000 signatures as of this writing.

The cybercrime law and its proponents have also become the targets of ridicule online. Here are some of the images circulating online:

Meanwhile, a senatorial candidate for the 2013 mid-term elections under the ruling Liberal Party and a cousin of President Noynoy Aquino, has not been spared from virulent comments on Twitter:

Here is a video on the cybercrime law uploaded by Red Ants Productions on YouTube:

Filipino netizens also enthusiastically noted the support for the call against the cybercrime law from various quarters of the world. The popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, for example, posted “Junk the Cybercrime Law” as its homepage header.

Last week, several government websites were also attacked by hackers who called themselves “Anonymous Philippines” to express their objection to the cybercrime law:

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines, and the language of the bill is cunningly designed to make you think it only applies to individuals who are deep in cyber-technology and doesn't apply to everyone, but some part of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other comment-spaces of other social media in the Internet.

This is part of the message posted in the websites of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team, Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region III, Smokefree Philippines of the Department of Health, and Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis.

A screenshot of the hacked website.

All of the affected websites except for that of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc have been restored.

#NoToCyberCrimeLaw is now the top trending hashtag in the Philippines. Here are some twitter reactions from Filipino netizens:

@missychua: grabe kaya natutulong ni pnoy. tignan nyo mga priorities; Wang-Wang,Corona,& #CyberCrimeLaw pinakaproblema yan. wag na edukasyon,poverty db

@missychua: P-Noy [President Noynoy Aquino] has great contributions. Look at his priorities: Wang-Wang, Corona, & #CyberCrimeLaw are his biggest problems. Not Education, poverty

@EJuankosayo: Status mo na, nilike mo pa tpos ikaw din nagcomment. Makakasuhan ka nian sa CyberCrimeLaw #EPIC hahahaha

@EJuankosayo: It's your status, you liked it, and you commented on it. But you can be charged under the CyberCrimeLaw. #EPIC hahahaha

@arcicatalan: #CybercrimeLaw shld protect d netizens frm hackers.Bt if ur acct IS hacked,posted smthng libelous,u cn b sued&burden's on u 2 prove hacking.

@thepbaologist: Protest vs anti-cybercrime law mounting.Concerned citizens now knocking on SC door. Let us keep democracy going.Let us continue to be heard.

@themarkgamboa: Kung maguupload ba ko ng nakahubad ako makukulong nako? #NoToCyberCrimeLaw

@themarkgamboa: If I upload a picture of myself naked will I be jailed? #NoToCyberCrimeLaw

@dafnyduck: Senators who passed the cybercrime law, you will feel our vengeance on election day. #NoToCybercrimeLaw


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