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Philippine leader defends controversial ‘cyber libel’ law

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Posted February 19, 2014
Filipino youths gather at an Internet cafe in Manila on February 18, 2014
Filipino youths gather at an Internet cafe in Manila on February 18, 2014
Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday defended a controversial cybercrime law penalising online libel, a day after the top court upheld its legality in a setback for campaigners who argue it could curb Internet freedom.

The Cybercrime Protection Act was passed in 2012 to stamp out online scourges such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography, but its implementation was suspended after being challenged by various groups.

However the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that one of its most controversial provisions, the section which penalises cyber libel, “is not unconstitutional”.

Aquino defended the ruling, saying the law would not be used to stifle dissent in the Philippines, considered to be one of Asia’s most freewheeling democracies.

“Will freedom of expression be stopped? I don’t think that is the purpose of the law,” Aquino told reporters.

“We were taught in school that your rights end where they impinge on the right of others.”

Opponents say the law gives the government sweeping powers to curb Internet freedom due to provisions that impose heavy prison terms for online libel—in a country where major protests have been organised through Facebook and Twitter.

Read more at: Phys.org

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