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Oops, no porn today: Freedom on net in Philippines

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

By: Frank Zhang


An unexpected block


Story begins when I accidentally clicked into a porn website ads and luckily get blocked. The blocking page is so familiar for me and it brought me back to few years ago when I was still a little boy sneaking to the computer room when my parents were away and browsing for naked lady and sexual scenes. After trying every link shown on the searching page, I always get the same result, a page that piss me off thousands of times and a page that drives me to leave mainland China and fly thousands of miles to Hong Kong. 

For a curious little boy, it is always upset when finding that you are blocked from the outside bigger world of internet. When numerous information are transferred and shared by millions of people, I was trapped in meaningless ads and stupid 404 pages. However, when I finally reach Hong Kong for my university and receive no more 404 error pages, I am not sure if restrictions on net is a bad thing. Internet is far more than a knowledge base. It is a black hole that take in everything in the world, bright or dark, good or evil. After satisfying my long desire of seeing a naked lady, I found myself in a place of drugs, guns, swearing, raping, killing, bullying, terrorism, racialism and so much worse. I was lucky to be exposed to this realistic world late, late enough to build up my discriminating ability and value system, to take things critically and think twice before acting. It is hard to imagine if I get access to these information ten years earlier, what would I be like. 


Freedom on Net worldwide

According to the survey result of freedom on net, the overall net freedom has not improved over the years. Many countries which were used to be categorized as ‘Free’ becomes ‘Partly free’ and over 70 percent of the countries being survived are not improving their internet freedom. It may mean that countries have reached an agreement that complete freedom on the Internet is not desirable. The contents need to be carefully categorized and selected before exposing them to the citizens. However, the line between legal and illegal is unclear and arguable.


How’s Philippines doing?

After seeing this blocking page in Philippines, I was relived and more delighted when finding the explanation below:

To be totally honest, this is the first time I was told that the website is banned for a reason. After clicking into the link, I find the official full version of the laws which clearly tells what kinds of websites will be blocked and why.  For instance, in Cyber crime Prevention Act of the Philippines (RA 10175), it states the definition of an illegal website from its content, usage and information source. The punishment and penalty are also clearly noted. On the later part of the Act, it describes on which approach the government monitors the website and whether the users’ rights are violated. The whole process seems completely transparent and under supervision. Whereas in China, although pornography is also illegal, it is difficult to find the complete corresponding acts and how the illegal websites are determined as well as punished. What happens in China has lots of ambiguity. As a citizen, you are not sure in what ways the government is monitoring you and for what reason this website is illegal. 

As a matter of fact, The Freedom on Net ranked the Philippines 10th out of 60 countries in 2013. Comparing the rating in 2018 with China, the difference is obvious.  Although there are obstacles to access in both country, Philippines has relatively little violations of users rights. On regard of political issues, it is said that Philippines government did not receive reports that officials are pressuring bloggers or online journalists to delete content critical to the authorities.


Conclusion

In daily life, Filipinos use Facebook, watch Youtube and have wide access to the bigger world. People talk freely about politics rummers and laugh about it. However, kids are protected with transparent and strict filter system to prevent them from unhealthy online information.Philippines, a not big and relatively poor country, values the freedom of net as well as the children’s growing conditions and builds up a good system to balance both. It’s a model for China and other countries who is still exploring its path.


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