Lawyer urges youth to be vigilant in using the internet

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MANILA, September 17, 2012—Following the signing of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law last week, a Catholic Lawyer urged the public, especially young people to be vigilant in using the internet, not just the social networking sites.

Atty. Ramel Muria, a member of the Good Governance Desk of the Archdiocese of Lipa said in an electronic interview that the internet or the social media can be used to build an internet related case against any person, in the same manner that an investigator or a lawyer use hard documents as evidence of a wrongdoing.

When asked about certain situations, Muria responded that some activities using the internet or social networking sites may be covered by the new anti-cyber crime act.

“Like blackmailing a person using his/her email, posted status or messages and pictures, the threatened act may be considered as a violation of Republic Act 9262 in appropriate instances, particularly women, such as the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Ang v. Court of Appeals, 618 SCRA 592, GR 182835, April 20, 2010. Threatening    a woman to upload uncompromising photo or actually uploading it is a violation of the law on the Anti-Violence against Women and Children,” he said.

In another example such as the act of publishing or distributing nude or semi-nude photo, Muria said that it may also be considered as a violation of the Republic Act 9995 (Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009) which punishes the publication or distribution of a photo or an image of the private parts of a person.

In the case of minors, Muria said that the offended party may claim damages for defamatory statements from the parents of the offending minor.

“Currently, a minor fifteen years of age and under has no criminal liability under the law. Republic Act 9344 considers her or him to be criminally irresponsible. However, a minor 17 years of age can only be considered criminally liable if he or she has acted with discernment when he or she committed the wrongful act. As such, it is legally impossible for a minor under fifteen years of age to be sued for libel,” he said.

He furthered that the examples or situation mentioned can be used as electronic evidences which can be used in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings.

“This is like documentary evidence, only that certain technical requirements are needed to be established by the proponent for its admissibility,” he said.

Atty. Muria is the current president of Adbokasiya ng Sambayanan (Adbokasiya) which is a social advocacy group for the advancement of the rights and welfare of Filipino children and families.

In a social media summit, tech savvy Fr. Stephen Cuyos, MSC, of the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA) said that social media and the need for this popular tool for communication can be used in many ways but should remain wholesome.

“There are lots of things that you can do in the world of social networking or the social media. But use it well like sharing photos or videos of Gospel message so you young people can focus on videos or photos about peace, love, charity and evangelization,” Cuyos said.

“I think the principle is, always know that whatever you post might be made public very quickly and could stay online forever. That means if you want to post, the rule is that you post wonderful things, such as positive words that could help other people. Don’t post anything that will put yourself and other people at risk online; that’s basically the main idea,” Cuyos furthered. (Jandel Posion)


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