Censoring The Internet
I got hold of the hard copies of the latest Senate and House versions of the proposed law defining the crime on child pornography, imposing penalties for the commission of the crime and for other purposes. Take note of the the phrase “for other purposes” because that is where I got the title of this blog which I will explain later. Authored by some 128 members of Congress and 7 senators, the two (2) bills have very similar provisions regarding the definition of the crime of child pornography and the penalties for the commission. One disturbing provision in both versions of the proposed law is on how to prevent the viewing of child pornography wherein the Internet service providers (ISPs) are tasked to install blocking or filtering system which I termed as “censoring the Internet”.
Actually, I have already blogged about this in Filtering The World Wide Web and let me quote the portions relevant to this article.
Many of us are unaware but there is also such a kind of move in our legislature. In the guise of preventing child pornography, punishing the perpetrators of the despicable crime and protecting the child online, Senate Bill 2317 has in its Section 8 a provision that says “All Internet service providers (ISPs) shall install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of Child Pornography will be blocked or filtered.”
Lest I be misunderstood of being against the proposed Child Anti-Pornography Act of 2008, let me categorically state that I am NOT against it. My blog post on Porno Surfing at Cafés will bear me on this. It is only the provision in Section 8 that I quoted above which must raise concern on anybody using the Internet. If China which is known for its strict laws and regulations only wants anti-pornography filtering software to be installed in every computer that will be sold in its country, why will a democratic country like the Philippines impose such filtering at the level of the Internet Service Providers. Imagine the threat of such move to every Filipino’s freedom of choice and possible invasion of his privacy.
By the way, as sort of an update, China has suspended the July 1 implementation of the Green Dam project. France has a similar proposed legislation which is encountering strong opposition from some of their progressive lawmakers. Malaysia is recently in the news about the plan to implement something similar to Green Dam and its press sector are now voicing their opposition to the said plan.
This same subject had been discussed in forums frequented by café owners and majority are against the proposal to have the suspected URLs be filtered by the ISPs. Again, let me state that it is not because the café owners are against the passing of the proposed law. It is only the provision on filtering by the ISPs that we are against because this is tantamount to censoring the Internet.
There are better ways of achieving the purpose of child pornography not getting viewed by the public. Giving the ISPs the right to determine what we can view and what we cannot view in the Internet will open the web to a lot of possibilities. This could be the real purpose of our legislators in coming out with such provision. They are just using the subject of child pornography to achieve some ulterior motives for themselves. If this is not true then I ask them to take out such provision on ISPs doing the filtering then pass the law.