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Black is the color of protest vs cybercrime

/ 02:30 AM October 03, 2012

Social networking sites were replete with black profile images Tuesday as Filipino netizens participated in an online protest against the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The Inquirer Group also joined the protest by changing its current profile pictures on Twitter with a solid black image.

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Dubbed “Black Tuesday,” the protest was initiated by the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (Pifa) as part of efforts to stop what it called “Cyber Martial Law.”

“Respect our right to free speech, privacy and information,” Pifa wrote in its campaign, followed by the tag line, “Prevent dictatorship. Protect democracy.”

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Some 100 members of Pifa also staged a “silent protest” at the Supreme Court to oppose the law and to call on the tribunal to stop its implementation.

Some protesters turned to hacking. The website of a unit of the Philippine National Police was the latest victim of computer hackers, who have been attacking government websites in protest of the cybercrime law.

Other websites earlier defaced were those of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine Anti-Piracy Team, Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 3, Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis, and the Department of Health’s antismoking program.

Street protests were conducted in Mindanao. Members of militant groups in Davao City on Tuesday morning momentarily stopped traffic as they lay down on a portion of the road to protest the cybercrime law.

Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said the protest was in sympathy with petitions in the Supreme Court questioning the law’s constitutionality.

Bearing placards that read, “Junk the cybercrime law of Aquino,” “Defend press freedom,” “cybercrime law, an e-Martial Law,” youths symbolically “gagged” their mouths with yellow strips of cloth marked, “no to cybercrime law.”

Some of the protesters chanted, “salot (plague),” beating drums and whistling in a minute-long noise barrage in front of Ateneo de Davao University on Claro M. Recto Street.

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Duazo said her group wanted the entire law, not just certain provisions junked, because its main purpose was to repress conscious or unconscious criticisms of the government.

A group of Davao journalists circulated a petition protesting the law.

The group said the law violated  freedom of expression, the constitutional guarantee of protection against double jeopardy, due process, and the privacy of communication and correspondence because it allowed real-time collection of traffic data, effectively, a surveillance without warrant.

Many Filipino netizens heeded Pifa’s call on Facebook and Twitter to bring down their profile images and turn them into black.

Instead of words, some put a black bar as their status message, followed by [POST BLOCKED], an apparent simulation of censorship, which some fear the law would bring about.

The discussion on Twitter catapulted #NoToCybercrimeLaw and #blacktuesday among the top trending topics in the Philippines Tuesday.

“It’s no longer more fun in the Philippines starting [today],” user @cessymeseed tweeted.

“Anong problema ng gobyerno? Uunlad ba tayo diyan?” asked user @NeilPacheco.

User @julangot offers a suggestion: “What if we ALL say something bad about the government? Let’s see if they can arrest us all.”

“Mas mahalaga ang isang batas na siyang magbibigay daan sa transparency sa pamahalaan,” tweeted user @itosiGuienGarma.

“This is reminiscent of martial law,” said user @aybahalANA.  Reports from Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research; Marlon Ramos in Manila; and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

TOPICS: Black, Cybercrime Prevention Act, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter
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