MATEO, Alyssa De Fiesta
Technology has enabled human beings to do a great number of activities with much more speed, efficiency, and better quality. It has allowed us to travel with ease, enjoy new forms of leisure, and to save a lot of time and energy in our daily lives; however, inasmuch as technology has given room for much progress, it has also given birth to many harms, one of which was tackled by representatives from the Foundation of Media Alternatives.
The first part of the session revolved around the use of information and communication technologies in harassment and other forms of violence against women. While violence against women has already been a pervasive problem, the internet has provided another platform in which it can occur. Violence through the internet is arguably a more ubiquitous type, given its ability to transcend time and geography. The possibility for anonymity also creates a way by which perpetrators can escape accountability, especially considering that the country is ill equipped when dealing with crimes committed online. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures (2014), cyberharassment can be defined as “threatening or harassing email messages, instant messages, or to blog entries or websites dedicated solely to tormenting an individual” (para. 3). One can argue that messages posted online can have no concrete or substantial effect, but when perpetrators go overboard—constant and repeated use of abusive language and actual threats of bodily harm—they can cause serious psychological and emotional injuries upon individuals. There must be public pressure upon hosts of social networking accounts, blogs, and online discussion boards to patrol abuses made on their sites. This can include making buttons for reporting abuse visible and accessible.
While it is necessary to control online behavior to a certain degree especially in cases of online violence, there is such a thing as too much control. This was tackled on the second part of the session, which revolved around the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The Cybercrime Prevention Act contains questionable provisions, namely those on online libel and on cybersex. As pointed out by the speaker, it is saddening that those who are trying to control and govern the internet are those who actually do not make use of it and do not understand how it works. The Cybercrime Prevention Act curtails the freedom of expression of many netizens who wish to contribute to the marketplace of ideas available online.
What can be gathered from the session is that new technology comes with new ways of behaving and new forms of checks and balances. We must be aware of the threats that we face when we post a seemingly innocuous status message on Facebook, but as well as this, our rights that exist not only offline, but online as well.
National Conference on State Legislatures, State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws, 2014, (accessed May 18, 2014); available from http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information- technology/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx