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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Any attempt to regulate Internet to fail – Miriam

By Marvin Sy 
The Philippine Star
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago poses for a ‘selfie’ with students of De La Salle University Manila where she gave a speech recently.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago poses for a ‘selfie’ with students of De La Salle University Manila where she gave a speech recently.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said recently that any attempt to regulate content on the Internet in the country will fail just as it has in other nations.
Santiago said the structure of the Internet is by definition “hostile to any desire to control, direct, manage or supervise, whether that desire comes from the government, or from other interest groups.”
“Experience has shown us that attempts to control the Internet will invariably fail. We should be instructed by the failed efforts of China to regulate political content, the efforts of America to regulate Internet gambling, or the efforts of Australia to regulate certain speech. By its very nature, the Internet will always resist such controls,” she said.
Santiago said the government has had to wrestle with certain phenomena produced by the Internet over the past decade, such as the fact that it is always on, wide open, insecure and easy to penetrate or disrupt.
“As a factual matter, as in countries all over the world, technology and business practices have been running faster than legal responses and developments. Initially, in any country, businesses were taken aback because they were operating in a legal vacuum and they had no legal guidance,” she said.
“For example, originally in the United States, there were no laws regulating behavioral advertising. As a result, like in the Philippines, government has relied on industry self-regulation,” she added.
Over the years, Santiago said the impact the Internet has had on the Philippine economy has been staggering, considering the following factors:
Consumers who make their purchases online; e-commerce companies which provide jobs, which with a multiplier effect produce other jobs in the economy; Internet-related small businesses; and online advertising spending.
Santiago said the Internet should be protected, because it creates industries that provide jobs, such as Internet service providers, web-hosting services, hardware and software producers, search engines, content developers, information technology consulting, advertising networks, and web design.
“But Internet businesses have been challenged in court, particularly in the 2014 case of Disini v. Secretary of Justice, where the Philippine Supreme Court (SC) upheld some but rejected other provisions of the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act,” Santiago said.
“The problem with the cybercrime decision of the SC is that almost by definition, the Internet can only be managed by a loose regulatory arrangement. In effect, the Internet is a global connection of interconnected computers. It has been described as truly a peer-to-peer system with many distributed nodes and no central point of control architecture,” she said.
Santiago has introduced a bill called the “Magna Carta of Internet Freedom,” which was written by crowdsourcing in the Internet.
In light of the SC decision, Santiago recommended that Congress protect online service providers from liability for the posts made by their users.
Santiago cited something similar to the “Safe Harbor Provision,” under the US Communications Decency Act.
She said operators of interactive computer services are free from liability for the defamatory comments made by their users.
The provision states that no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be tried as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content source.

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