|Image from We Support A******** Facebook page|
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is upon us. I guess I can only make fun of myself now, but there is a limit to the number jokes I can make about my cellulite. I, who thrive on sarcasm, have become severely handicapped now that I do not have the option to throw jibes at seemingly lobotomized politicians.
The part on online libel is so scary, it makes Freddy Kreuger look like a friendly burger chain mascot. It is Batas horibilis at its best:
- You can be sued for libel even if you merely imply that an individual, dead or alive, has a real or imaginary defect. This part is so broad you might as well be sued for saying bad things about the man on the moon.
- The Act references a libel law so old, it's original authors have already decomposed. Eighty years ago, they could not have imagined that toilets in the future would have auto flush much less conceived the free-wheeling nature of the internet.
- The mere act of joking about a person can get you in hot water even if there is no malicious intent. I bet the next bill our senators will file will propose striking out the word "joke" from the dictionary.
- Law enforcers can seize computer data even without a court order at the mere suspicion of your having violated the law. Think action movies where cops burst upon unsuspecting culprits. Why don't you plaster your face on one of those characters to see what you'd look like in a similar situation so you can plan the perfect hair and makeup before a televised raid.
- You can go to prison for a maximum of 12 years and pay a fine of up to 1 million pesos. Good luck. Philippine prisons are meant to give people a preview of what hell is like.
With the passage of the law, I can envision several scenarios unfolding:
- Millions of Filipinos will be found guilty of libel. Prisons will be so congested it'll be standing room only. A friend of mine, JL, says this might be the government's secret strategy for population control. He may have a point. After all, when one inmate farts in a cell of hundreds, quite a handful will pass out. I see the beginning of modern gas chambers.
- To evade capture, Filipinos will invent a new language for Facebook use only to add to the hundreds of dialects our people already have. It'll be based loosely on beki speak and jeje speak and will be indecipherable unless law enforecers are former bekis and jejemons.
- Virtual invisible ink will be invented. Either that or social media users will just have to learn to communicate meaningfully with ***** and %#@!/*.
- The only images that'll be shared on Facebook moving forward will be pictures of babies, pets, food and grandmothers knitting. These will be interspersed with emo posts from hopeless lovers pouring their guts out and mixing them with molasses.
- There will be a mass exodus to Cebu where the naturally fun loving Filipinos prefer to be incarcerated. My blogger pal RR says that's where she'd like to go to become part of the Cebu Dancing Inmates, who at least are allowed some form of fun in jail.
What makes everything doubly sad is that some of our senators apparently signed the bill without reading the revised version in full.
Here's hoping they move quickly to amend. In the meantime, let's all pray they have special jail cells for bloggers, posters, likers and tweeters.