“We can follow the Chinese or Middle Eastern model where all ISPs are required to block online pornography. For me, these people must rot in jail so they will not be able to do any more harm to anybody.” ~ Senator Ramon “Bong ” Revilla, Jr.
Senator Bong Revilla got his chance to get the publics’ as well as those of his colleagues’ sympathy when it comes to issues on pornography by riding on the Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili sex scandal. Perhaps it is part of the Senator’s agenda to railroad the passages of Senate Bill No. 12 otherwise known as -Pornography Bill seeking to punish those who publish, exhibit or broadcast materials considered as porn. The bill may have won he support of the religious sector but he still has a lot to do to persuade majority of Internet users to include bloggers, social network enthusiasts and even regular users who may or may not be into online porn.
Lets not touch Section 4, Article 3 of the 1987 Pilippine Constitution which protects the freedom of assembly, the press, speech and expression as Congress is now trying hard as ever to amend and possibly revise it in totally. Lets first discuss what will happen if they filter the web. According to No Clean Feed, an Australian movement to stop their government’s attempt of filtering Internet content, implementing such has a lot of major technical drawbacks such as:
- high costs of maintaining a filtering system
- a filtering system would slow down Internet access by 80% (good luck to those still using dial-up)
- Internet filtering softwares available today would still block 10,000 websites for every 1 million
- only illegal contents on websites could be blocked which means that files shared through LimeWire or torrents can still proliferate
- filtering systems can be bypassed through VPN, proxies, and other forms of anonymizers which most tech savvy children know how to use more than adults
- an dynamic server based Internet filtering module is less customizable and effective than PC-based filters
In short, Bong Revilla’s proposition is both expensive and useless. Money spent on filtering the Internet could buy more books for children. But wait, what if Revilla would then add a provision that Internet Service Providers (ISP) should handle the cost? Well, would you be willing to pay more for an Internet connection with 80% lower speed than what you used to get?
Let’s now discuss freedom of speech and freedom of the press (I strongly believe bloggers are also covered by this). Isn’t filtering the Internet a violation to our basic freedoms? Should we let our politicians dictate which of content or information are we allowed to access?And oh, are China, North Korea, and Burma now our models for running governments? This is not what Ninoy Aquino and hundreds of national heros who shed their lives for.
Don’t use the kids this time just to gain sympathy, this line already sold out a bunch of crappy legislation. Parents should be responsible for them. If the government really wants to intervene, they can give parental control softwares just like they give away condoms–for free.
To sum up, filtering the Philippine Internet is like treating pubic lice with chemotherapy. You may have killed the lice, but you kill the genital as well.
Don’t vote for people who wants to curtail your freedom.