Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Shutdown of terrorism-linked social media accounts eyed

From the Malaya Business Insight (Nov 28): Shutdown of terrorism-linked social media accounts eyed

THE National Intelligence Coordinating Agency yesterday proposed the shutting down of social media sites linked to terrorist organizations, a move backed by the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and on national defense and security.

The proposal was made by Roberton Lapuz, chief of the directorial staff of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), during the continuation of a joint hearing on proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007.

Lapuz said the Department of Information and Communications Technology should be given the power to shut down social media accounts which are “inimical to the national interest,” like those on Facebook or Twitter.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, defense committee chair, is the incoming DICT chief.

Lapuz said India, which like the Philippines has a huge number of internet users, has a similar policy.

“We want the DICT to be empowered, to have the authority to be able to shut down social media accounts through Facebook, Twitter, and similar mechanisms,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the public order and dangerous drugs panel which is leading the hearing, said he supports NICA’s proposal but stressed there should be safeguards so as not to curtail constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of speech.

He said based on the committees’ consultations with resource persons, “as long as the state exercises its police power to preserve itself, then it’s not constitutionally infirm.”

He also said guidelines on how to identify a social media site as linked to terrorism will still be discussed.

Amendments to the Human Security Act (HAS) are being proposed because, according to Lacson, it “is seen as a dead-letter law,” having had only two convictions because of several restrictive provisions.

One is the provision stating that a person to be placed under surveillance has the right to be informed that he is being surveilled. Another is the provision penalizing a law enforcer P500,000 a day if an arrested suspected terrorist is acquitted.

During the hearing, Marwil Llasos of the Institute of International Legal Studies said social media has been used as a means of radicalization, and anything harmful to public safety and public order can be regulated by the state.

Llasos said law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation can take down social media accounts for offenses such as cyber-libel.

Another issue raised during the hearing is the potential use of money transfer services to finance terrorist activities.

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