Youth group joins social media day

MEMBERS of Kabataan Party-list today strengthened calls for better internet access and services in the country as the youth group joins twitterati, bloggers, and other internet users in the annual “Social Media Day”.

Organized by Tweetup Manila, the Social Media day will carry the theme “Social Media Capital” in recognition to over 35 million Filipino netizens who made it possible to capture the title for the country. ‘The social media today has made inroads in advertising, marketing, public relations, governance and politics, advocacies and causes, journalism and media.’

“The number of Filipinos using the internet for work, study, entertainment and so on has grown tremendously over the years. The social media has proven to be one of the greatest and most valuable venues where people can exercise their democratic freedoms, from their personal rights as individuals to freely express their sentiments, to the people’s collective rights to air out political opinions and grievances,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Spokesperson of Kabataan Party-list.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 17th session report which declared internet as a basic human right, the internet is “…one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies.”

Special rapporteur to the UN Frank La Rue stressed out that the internet is “an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.”

Crisostomo said that “The Philippines has attained the respected status of a social media capital however the government has failed to follow the lead of telecom regulators worldwide in providing quality internet services. The Internet access in the Philippines remains to be among the slowest and most expensive in the region.”

The youth leader also added that “aside from accessibility and connectivity issues, the government, has committed several interventions and suggested several measures that may be deemed as violations to the right to internet access and an encroachment on Internet and information technology, among which are the pursuit of the Optical Media Board to have hard drives registered, the proposed taxation on online activities, the scrapped proposal to put a data cap on broadband users, and the cybercrime crime bill.”

“Sadly, internet services are fraught with issues that hinder the overall productivity and welfare of our users. Indeed, the problems surrounding internet service have to be addressed and remedied,” Crisostomo said.

Among the issues raised by netizens thru various consultation held by the youth group include overbilling, exorbitant fees, slow, unreliable and sub-par broadband internet connections, limited network coverage, and questionable practices like data-capping, “burstible speeds” and long contract periods.

“It is high time for the government and for the Congress to look into the  issues confronting the Philippine ICT sector. The Philipine Government should enact measures to protect the rights and welfare of internet users and to democratize internet access for active citizenship and nation-building,” said the youth leader.

Kabataan Party-list filed various measures in the House of Representatives to improve internet access and services. Among the House Bills filed are: HB 4271 or the Free Publi Wi-fi Bill and HB 4197 or the Computer Literacy for Senior Citizens Bill. The youth party-list also filed the following House Resolution to look into the complaints of netizens: HR 407- Inquiry on the Quality of Broadband Services, HR 799- Scrap Imposition on Broadband Cap, HR 1093- Inquiry on the Continued Classification of Internet as a Value Added Service, HR 1397- Internet Access as Human Right, HR 271- Internet live streaming of Committee Hearings and Plenary Sessions, and HR 1256- Inquiry on the status of E-governance.

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