TREATING social media similar to the traditional media is a gross mistake that is why it is not right to impose the similar penalty for libel committed in cyberspace with that made in print and broadcast media, Sen. Miriam Santiago said on Thursday.
Reacting on the recent decision of the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the libel provision on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Santiago said that the court should not treat social media as if it were just a scion or successor or just another classification of traditional media because the two operate in different universes.
She said that if someone maligns you using the traditional media, it is very difficult for you to receive equal space and equal time for your time, especially if your enemy has more money than you.
In the Internet, Santiago said, if someone posts a blog [entry]or a tweet, or some comment against you, you have the full right to answer him or her in kind and you don’t have to pay anything.
“It is a wide-open universe unlike the restricted universes of traditional media,” she
said noting that the criminal libel provision on the present law violates widely accepted principles of constitutional law.
The provision on online libel is so vague that you hardly know who are covered by it, Santiago said.
Although the Supreme Court has said that it is only the sender who is liable not the person who is commenting or receiving, Santiago said, it is still not clear who the sender is.
“What do these words mean? Who is the sender? Is it the service provider, the individual netizen, or if they are a group, how do we identify them?” she said.
The second issue is vagueness of the law that one can no longer have any clear voice or signals on where the line ends or begins.
“The basic principle should be that the law should be confined within very strict limits. But this law plus the interpretation of the Constitution makes this field so wide open,” Santiago stressed.
“I humbly submit that the Supreme Court ruling on these particular provisions is erroneous and I call on all netizens to magnify all our efforts and to speed it up as soon as possible,” she added.
According to Santiago there are two actions that could be done one is to file a motion for reconsideration with respect to the particular libel provision or for the Senate to file the necessary amendment.