FB ‘Likes’, Shares Could Be Grounds For Libel, Says Sen. Guingona

Sharing content, or even just clicking the ‘Like’ button on Facebook, may be grounds for libel under the recently enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act. But Senator Teofisto Guingona III said Thursday the law is so broad and vague it isn’t clear who can or should be sued.

“The law is very broad,” Guingona, who opposes the new law, said. “If you click like, you can be sued, and if you share, and continuously re-share information, you can also be sued. Saka sino ang liable? Hindi klaro eh. ‘Yung original na nag-post? ‘Yung nag-share? ‘Yung nag-tweet? Kahit nga ikaw, mag-post ka ng simpleng ‘hehehe’ di ba? Ibig sabihin nu’n, sangayon ka (And who is liable? It isn’t clear. The one who made the original post? The ones who share? The ones who tweet. Even you, if you post a simple, ‘hehehe,’ right? Does that mean you agree)? Are you liable? So, napakalawak eh.”

Guingona also described the law as “unrealistic” and difficult to enforce.

But the bottom-line, he said, “on its face, it is unconstitutional,” which is why he filed before the Supreme Court on Thursday a petition asking it to declare void “questionable” provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act that infringe on freedom of speech and of expression, among these the inclusion of libel among punishable crimes.

Guingona acknowledged that the country needs an anti-cybercrime law but said the one enacted could easily be used to suppress people’s rights.

“Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime even if you just like, re-tweet or comment on an online update or blog post containing criticisms,” he said.

He also said the harsher penalty for “cyber-libel” — up to 12 years’ imprisonment compared to the four years and two months for libel committed in print — would demonize technology.

Aside from this, Guingona said the new law violated the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy by making it possible for a person to be sued both under the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Revised Penal Code.

Guingona said he is confident the Supreme Court will rule in his favor even as he urged netizens to join the protest against the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Even if the high court rules for his petition, Guingona said he would still seek a review of the law. ~interaksyon.com


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