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PH not (yet) on ‘enemies of the Internet’ list

12:55 AM March 25, 2014

Now, for some good news for Filipino netizens.

Despite worries about attempts to clamp down on their right to free speech, they don’t have to deal with some really brazen, even shameless, forms of Internet censorship.

In fact, the Philippines is not on the list of the world’s notorious “Enemies of the Internet” compiled by a prominent international journalism organization.

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Well, at least, not yet.

The list is in the “Enemies of the Internet” report by Reporters Without Borders and includes countries like China, Tunisia, Somalia, Bangladesh and even the U.S. where the government data-gathering operation was exposed last year.

Filipinos are wrestling with politicians who are trying to use an anti-cybercrime law as a way to intimidate them. Netizens of other nation face bigger problems.

Reporters Without Borders offers some stunning examples.

Take China’s efforts to help Iran create a national version of the Internet “that would be disconnected from the World Wide Web and under the government’s complete control.”

In Syria and Iran, according to the report, “Internet speed is often reduced drastically during demonstrations to prevent the circulation of images of the protests.”

“Some cases border on the ridiculous,” the report continues. “In Somalia, for example, the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab banned using the Internet in January 2014.  As it did not have the required skills or technical ability to disconnect the Internet, it ordered [service providers] to terminate their services within 15 days. Ironically, to ensure that the public knew of the ban, it was posted on websites sympathetic to Al-Shabaab.”

In Gambia, the government just passed a new law that made “spreading of false news against the government or public officials” punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine” of 64,000 euros.”

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There’s more good news for Filipino netizens in another report.

In countries dominated by leaders not used to being criticized, it’s not surprising that there will be attempts to clamp down on Internet freedom.

The brouhaha over Turkey’s bid to shut down Twitter underscores this. And so do the attempts of trapos to bully Filipino netizens through the cybercrime law.

But Filipino political leaders who see the Web and social media as threats should think twice about pushing too hard to suppress Filipino netizens.

That’s because, according to another report, a growing number of people across the world put enormous value on Internet freedom.

“There is widespread opposition to Internet censorship in emerging and developing nations,” the Pew Research report released last week said. “Majorities in 22 of 24 countries surveyed say it is important that people have access to the Internet without government censorship. In 12 nations, at least seven-in-ten hold this view.”

The Philippines is one of those 12 countries. Seventy-three percent of Filipinos who took part in the survey say “it is important that people have access to the Internet without government censorship.”

Venezuela is at No. 1 with 89 percent, followed by Lebanon, Chile, Egypt, Argentina and Brazil.

“Support for Internet freedom is especially strong where a large portion of the population is online,” the report says. “And, in most of the countries polled, young people are particularly likely to consider Internet freedom a priority.”

Support for Internet freedom is particularly strong among young people, those in 18 to 29 age bracket. Among Filipinos, 80 percent of those surveyed say “it is important that people have access to the Internet without government censorship.”

This is good news.

It means the first generation of young Filipinos who grew in the Internet age know how important it is to protect the Web from government intrusion — and to make sure that the Philippines never lands on the list of the Internet’s notorious enemies.

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TAGS: “Enemies of the Internet, ” Reporters Without Borders, censorship, cybercrime law, Internet, Pew Research
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