Youth solon consults netizens in drafting Internet Freedom Bill

IN A move to turn legislation on the Internet from being restrictive towards becoming responsive to the needs of netizens, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino has drafted the Netizens Bill of Rights, and opened the initial draft to a public consultation.

“These past days, the nation has been abuzz with the dangerous ramifications of the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act. We have already filed a petition in the Supreme Court and an amendatory bill in Congress to address this. Now, it’s time for legislators to focus on ensuring that the rights of Filipino netizens are safeguarded,” Palatino said.

Palatino filed House Bill No. 6613 in the Lower House in the afternoon of October 1, Monday, with Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño as co-author.

“If we analyze the Cybercrime Law, it is apparent that it restricts rather than protect netizens. Apart from repealing RA 10175, we intend to lay down the inalienable rights of Filipino Internet users through this bill,” Palatino said.

The declaration of policy of the draft bill entitled “Internet Freedom Act of 2012” states, “It is the policy of the State to uphold the people’s right to freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press through all types of media. The State recognizes Internet access as a human right and thereby promotes the access to the Internet and keeps the Internet free from censorship, while providing ample regulatory control.”

“Sharing information and communicating freely on the Internet is vital to the realization of other human rights,” Palatino said.

Last July, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously approved a resolution which added Internet access and online freedom of expression to the list of basic human rights.

The Internet Freedom Act lays down several rights of netizens, including universal access to the Internet, right to privacy, and right to quality access, among others.

The youth solon decided to open the drafting of the bill to the public, and has invited bloggers, information technology experts, and legal pundits to a public consultation on October 4 at the UP College of Law.

“This bill is for all Filipino netizens. That’s why Kabataan Partylist decided that it would be best if the public gets involved in the drafting process,” the youth solon said.

“The output of the public consultation will be incorporated in the draft bill,” Palatino explained. “This grassroots practice on drafting bills should be adopted by all legislators, so as to avoid passing laws like the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” he added.

Kabataan Partylist is set to file the Internet Freedom Bill upon the resumption of Congress on Monday. Solons from the Makabayan bloc, including Casiño, are expected to sign as co-authors.

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