LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE WRITINGS BEING MADE IN ARELLANO SECRET FILES [FACEBOOK] PAGE

In the perspective of the one contributing | maintaining| service provider

 

This Paper intends to discuss the legal issues confronting the recently-launched anonymous confession page which we call the Arellano Law Secret Files Facebook Page (“Page,” for brevity). Contents and views hereof shall mean to refer only to students the Arellano University School of Law utilizing a confessional space in similar functions with other secret files pages grounded in the setting of other tertiary educational institutions, which have led the way to this relatively new virtual phenomenon.

One could be so entertained by setting his probing eyes on the thread of posts which have sprouted on the Arellano Law Secret Files Facebook Page. Most of the posts and stakes displayed on the Page, trivial nevertheless, could be read with interest by any Arellano University School of Law (AUSL) student who could have access to it. He could even read with all his attention to it and to the extent of being terminated from the corporate world on the extraneous ground of lack of expertise and focus at work.

That exactly was the Author’s take of risk while exploring the Page.

I visited it, supposedly for a jumpstart or to have a glimpse of the basics pertaining to the trend. That aim, however, which was originally for the purpose of exciting strong tendencies for my writing, escaped me and I almost became a fan of Spidey, who had been ridiculed by one contributor, for his seemingly desperate efforts in knowing the whereabouts of a girl he named ‘his Mary Jane.’ That very day, I failed to get the stimulation that I sought at first, but I definitely engaged myself into a deep read. At the least, I someway became aware of what the “present issues” were in the campus. Or elsewise put, in a way, I was able to try and see for myself what this secret files page was all about.

 

INTRODUCTION

The day the Philippines connected to the global internet for the very first time in 1994, somehow reminds us of the conjectural queries involving expectations of the pioneers responsible for its introduction, and the society who has been benefitting on the ensuing result. These expectations may be interpreted with a view on how the Internet would continue to be of enduring value to the Filipinos. This idea may be supported further by an outlook of them getting by in the mid-90s and in defining great deals which the Internet might bring to the society in the next twenty (20) years.

So now, what do we have? Great deals: we have them, indeed, more than 20 years later. As lifestyles have become more drifting, people tend to rely more on advanced technology and mobile communications. We were so over Friendster where one had the preference of making known his shout out for the day. It was once a social networking service website, whereby users were allowed to contact other members, maintain those contacts, and share online media and content with those contacts[1]. And, right now, we have the infamous Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few. We have blogs that could be considered as online diaries, and certainly, online forums. We have it in this age of convergence of modern technology, that group of computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks[2] – the Social Media[3]. Because it caters to all kinds of individuals around the globe and plays a role in the daily lives of these individuals, helping facilitate real-time communication at any point on earth, between and among people, a question on how Internet puts influence on them, should not, therefore, be predicated.

 

THE SECRET FILES PAGE

How does it work?

Care to share your secrets?

http://goo.gl/forms/HSGrHbf51f

Products of an artless research provide:

Any student who would like to share his/her secret/s (as the name of the page outwardly suggests that it be secrets which, at the minimum, shall be contributed), “shall” fill-out a google form which will eventually be recorded in the Google Docs[4]. A pseudo name or ‘alias’ of the anonymous sender, together with the first four (4) digits of his student number which corresponds to the year when he/she first enrolled in AUSL, is required. The Administrator or Administrators, responsible for the secret files page settings, will then control the processing of the posts that come out as an entire package for a story. Some student-subscribers who may or may not participate in giving actual comments, could make a guess of who possibly made the entry or entries, given some indications or clues.

 

THE ARELLANO LAW SECRET FILES (THE PAGE)

The Arellano Law Secret Files is like any other anonymous confession sites which serves as a venue for the students of AUSL in expressing their thoughts, ideas, ideology, principles or values, or sentiments, rants, confessions or concerns, supported by the use of one categorical hit of Social Media and one that we are all very familiar with, Facebook. Patterned after PostSecret (postsecret.com)[5], this sort of confessional space, as termed by Rappler’s Agbayani, was first introduced by the University of the Philippines-Los Banos in Laguna, in this virtual time, naming their secret files page after the location of the campus itself, calling it, The Elbi (“LB”) Files[6]. It has, since then, engaged comments from said institution’s professors, students and alumni and views from students from other schools or universities. University of the Philippines-Diliman followed the inclination and marketed their very own secret files page with superiority, while the other institutions and universities, such as, University of Santo Tomas (UST), De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, San Beda [School of Law] and Arellano (AUSL), came behind in time.

 

THE PAGE VIS-À-VIS THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Pre-Secret Files Page Enthusiasm     

Before secret files pages enflame the confessional tendencies of students, tangible communication tools, such as, bulletin boards and freedom walls, among others, were previously placed in an obligatory position to convert ideas or opinions of students into firm evidence of their disposition(s). These tools may still be of use to date but are less enticing, nonetheless.

A formal writing or note, for instance, addressed to some faculty member or professor, or that which pertains to certain act or acts of a student affecting or infringing the right(s) of another in the course of their academic pursuit, is still in the queue of the students’ options, in order to pronounce their prayer for redress of wrongs done to them or simply, remedy. Or one may agree that, one of the most, if not the most, celebrated “offline” means of communicating students’ ideology relative to freedom-of-expression advocacy and its corresponding limitation(s), is the school’s official newsletter or school paper. Or it could be the political efforts of a certain group of students in the guise of an implemented code or campus act exemplifying rights of students on the one hand, and obligations of the school or educational institution on the other, and vice-versa. As stated by Supreme Court Justice Antonio E.B. Nachura, in his pre-bar compilation of random political law notes,[7] the right of students to free speech or expression in school premises must always be applied in light of special characteristics of the school environment. Hence, a provision in a Campus Journalism Act, which substantiates that a student shall not be expelled or suspended solely on the basis of the articles he/she has written, may, as far as the right of the student to academic freedom and due process, is concerned, be considered commendable, however, tested with some exception. Thus, such provision should be read to mean that the school cannot suspend or expel a student solely on the basis of the articles he or she has written, except when said articles materially disrupt class work or involve disorder or invasion of rights of others.[8] This may likewise find application in an online speech, regardless of whether or not the same has occurred off-campus on non-university/school sponsored-webpages like Facebook or Twitter.[9]

Freedom of expression is a principle renowned in any educational institution. Encouraging students to impart their takes on a particular activity or a certain issue in the campus parallels the intention of the institution to let these students realize their importance in building a dynamic system for learning. More importantly, such freedom is a right enshrined in and protected by our Constitution. Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, on Bill of Rights, is clear on this point as it reads, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

 

            What does this Constitutional right have to do with secret files pages? As can be gleaned from the write-ups of a few number of bloggers about these pages, only the right pertaining to freedom of expression has been put into limelight.

De Leon (2011) explained that “the constitutional freedom of expression implies the right to freely utter and publish whatever one pleases without previous restraint, and to be protected against any responsibility for so doing as long as it does not violate the law, or injure someone’s character, reputation or business, and carries with it the right to circulate what has been published.[10]” (Emphasis supplied)

But like any other rights guaranteed therein, the same is not absolute and still is subject to some measure or regulation, relative to the State’s duty to validly impose sanctions, in the interest of the public.

Courts in the United States have repeatedly emphasized that the college and university campuses are peculiarly the marketplace/s of ideas[11] and the mere dissemination of ideas therein, regardless of how offensive the speech may be, a student, may not be stopped on the ground alone of violating the conventions of decency or only because the institution he/she is in disagrees with what he/she has publicized online. Thus, it may be said that permissible interference is the institution’s authority to gauge whether the students’ words of expressions rise to, or are susceptible to encouraging substantial and material disruptions with reference to the operations and manner of administration of the school or university.

With the advent of advanced information and communications technology (ICT), the Internet has become an avenue for volumes of data and wealth of information on practically every subject comprehendible. ICT, it having progressed so rapidly, has entrenched the way the Philippines regulates and manages its system of education. This is in pursuance of the State’s duty to promote full development of Filipino capability in the field of communication and information and the emergence of communication structures suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation.[12] (Emphasis supplied)

It is, therefore, considered the cornerstone for the formulation of national policy on the use of media in education. The policy in order touches such aspects as right of every student to communicate his mind in acceding to the rules and regulations of the institution, adhering to or standing against the purposes for which such institution was created or organized, or evaluating the system that the institution is up to.

ICT in schools started with emails and then extended to creating online groups. As the Philippine Internet paves the way to non-conventional tools in communications, it has gone 180 degrees, when it comes to endowing with the students efficient communication services. Schools and universities even utilize, for their own preferment, the works and privileges of Facebook. A university’s profile, the subjects or courses it offers, kinds and achievement of students it has honed and updates may all be found in a Facebook Page. No wonder, even on how such an educational institution will implement its goal of unifying its students within or outside of the campus premises, the use of an online page like Facebook, is being encouraged. Various campus organizations and classes of different levels also take hold of the opportunities. Undoubtedly herein, categories of speech and students’ publications are protected by the law. But it is not a similar point to defend when we speak of the secret files page.

 

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: LEGAL IMPLICATIONS

Freedom of Expression, an inalienable right recognized by the United Nations

            In this age of modernization, the power of the expansive instruments of online communication to hurt or damage is immense. And easy access to the Internet enables an individual to hold unusual powers and utilize the same to his very advantage but to the extent of damaging another. Take for instance, a blogger, who opposes a prominent political figure can ruin that person’s campaign by spreading damning information about him globally. Same thing with one’s post/s in his/her Facebook or Twitter Account, containing fighting words or direct reference to particular person/s relative to the content of the posts which could be inciting unlawful act or words of defamation. Hurting words can hit you in seconds and considering further, hundreds of people will be able to see the posts in just one click. Likewise concluded as regards confessional posts that secret files page displays.

A secret files page is more like a confessional space ­– intended for every topic imaginable in this present day – for students while maintaining their identity in confidentiality. It is in possession of an extraordinary feature which they tag as anonymity.[13]Anonymity is what makes the secret files pages or confessional sites very appealing. A student can say anything he/she wants to say in there, disclosing an array of various issues: from comment on the school’s environment, feedback about the operation, management and administration or the entire system of the school, to rating a professor’s performance, telling adventures in life and love or even articulating some day-to-day accounts, without great worries of social repercussions. As again, the identities of some senders will not be mentioned at any rate, if that be what the nature of the speech suggests. But there are clues which may be used by subscribers or readers in coming up with an equally appealing act of guessing. Insofar as the subject is concerned, even if the guess is a successful one, the rule is still in place, and that is to maintain as far as practicable, the confidentiality of the identity of the subject. Such act of preserving the rule is tantamount to valuing the liberty in anonymity.

Normally, topics or themes written in the secret files pages are those which are usually frowned upon by the society and/or those that are not genuinely accepted by the more conservative individuals/students. However, to reiterate, the right to express oneself without any restraint or interference is favored, specially, if the post on the anonymous confession page is not offensive per se. And even if the same is offensive, in that, it has the propensity to taint societal norms or that the nature of the message it tries to convey is controversial, it is a speech that may, nevertheless, be protected. This is in consonance with the guarantee that the Constitution bestows any individual concerning his freedom of expression. Noteworthy to mention is the fact that the same is considered an inalienable right of the human family, guarded and recognized by the United Nations by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).[14] As earlier discussed, the freedom of expression encased in every post displayed in secret files, is not without interference at all. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), realizing that an individual has duties to other individuals and to the community where he belongs, recognizes the right to freedom of expression and to impart information and ideas of all kinds subject  to certain restrictions as provided by law and as may be deemed necessary.[15]

Right to Privacy

The right of privacy is concisely defined as the right to be left alone. It has also been defined as the right of a person free from undesired, or disclosure and as the right to live without unwarranted interference by the public in matters with which the public is not necessarily concerned.[16] Quoting the words of Justice Brandeis, “the right to be left alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.[17]

As for the secret files page, it must be noted that the users or senders are anonymous and the page is being operated and controlled by anonymous administrators, as well. One special quality of interaction through this page is anonymity. Data Privacy Act of 2012[18] defines sensitive personal information which includes, among others, personal information about religious, philosophical and political affiliations, and health, education or sexual life of a person. More often than not, these topics are the usual themes of the series of posts in the secret files page. And, why would someone take the risk of expressing contents of these mentioned themes if his/her act might throw himself/herself into a bulk of penalties imposed for committing [Internet/Online] libel[19]? It is because these secret confession sites which are chiefly grounded on anonymity, opens for an individual, a window of opportunity to express himself freely. One of the other factors that may be taken into consideration is the niche that a confessional space would likely to cater: those that are young and repressed, thus, the resort to these pages as outlets.

Anonymity does not merely make the confession site more appealing, it also uncovers protection intended primarily for two reasons: (1) to decrease the social risks of tackling unpopular perspectives and topics considered as taboos; and (2) to assume different personas apart from their offline and/or true identity.[20] For some, these pages have the ability to unite the students with common interests and sharing the same sentiments in life or about the entire system of the academic community to which they both belong. It is like having companions who could understand you only that, you may not have that physical or actual connection with them as all stuff happens online.

Psychologically speaking, expressing oneself in the in secret files pages or confession sites, like Arellano Law Secret Files Page is therapeutic for some. They can release whatever is within that they would want the ‘world’ to know. Quoting an answer from some sort of short survey done by Rappler.Com writer/contributor, asking why the secret files are so appealing[21], one student there answered, “To put it bluntly, I would say we all have an inner perv that we don’t want to own up to, or at least our conservative society won’t allow us to.” Another said, “In effect, it gives them [students by and large, mostly from the tertiary level/graduate school(s)] a brief dalliance into the ‘dark side’ but still remain free from judgment and social repercussions. It is a very safe way to indulge in a fantasy.” It makes sense. Internet interaction differs from ordinary face-to-face dealings and communications within the academic community when it comes to facilitating manner of self-expression. One has the ability to be somewhat anonymous and act with greater amount of freedom as he will be free from expectations from people who may know him and the susceptibility that he be damned or sanctioned socially is greatly reduced.

These Constitutionally-Guaranteed Rights and the Cybercrime Law on Libel

To reiterate, taking into account the social responsibilities of an individual to the society and his positive legal duties, his freedom of expression is not absolute. Legally speaking, a person may not “really” avoid sanctions that the State can impose in light of the legal definition of libel and the fact that the latter was never intended by law to be protected.

A provision in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, or Article 353 to be more specific, defines libel as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. Thus, the elements of libel are as follows: (a) the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another; (b) publication of the charge; (c) identity of the person defamed; and (d) existence of malice.

Allegation then is considered defamatory if it encases the entire meaning of libel, ascribing to a person the commission of a crime or those circumstances, as mentioned, that tend to cause the dishonor or, in effect, damage the reputation of a natural or juridical person. Publication of the charge is satisfied when same content of expression is communicated to a third person, and eventually to the public. It is enough that a stranger was able to read the defamatory statement regardless of whether or not the defamed subject reads or was able comment to the libellous remark(s). As regards malice, the High Court, in a number of jurisprudence, adheres to the higher standard of “actual” malice. The Court explains in Disini vs. Secretary of Justice (2014)[22], that there is “actual malice” (or malice in fact) when the offender makes the defamatory statement with the knowledge that it is false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. And the prosecution has the burden of proving the presence of the same given the appropriate instances under which malice could be proved.

But the High Court points it out, as it finally rendered its decision on the Disini case, that the penal code and the Cybercrime Act of 2012[23] | [24] mainly target libel against private persons. For this reason, the Court recognizes that these laws imply a stricter standard of “malice” to convict the author of a defamatory statement where the offended party is a public figure. Society’s interest and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs.[25]

Now, how about the element of the identifiability of the individual defamed? The Court, in an earlier case, declared that defamatory matter which does not reveal the identity of the person upon whom the imputation is cast, affords no ground of action, unless it be shown that the readers of the libel could have identified the personality of the individual defamed.[26] This should be read to mean that there must be positive identification of the person subject of defamation. There must be proof that at least a third person or stranger is able to identify that such an individual is the subject of the defamatory statement. Even the provisions in the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom,[27] a bill filed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, suggest that positive identification of the person is an essential element of Internet Libel.[28]

 

CONCLUSION

Responsibility of the Page Administrator

One site[29] published sort of a write-up about implications brought by these phenomenal anonymous confession sites, but, on the perspective of the administrators who primarily created, have been maintaining and run these pages. Says, a certain Bill Oglesby, who teaches media ethics and law at Virginia Commonwealth University, administrators may, generally, not be held liable if they merely provided the venue for postings since the latter are being made directly by the public. But their liability is certain, he added, “if the administrators function as ‘gatekeepers’ or are on notice about some particular legal issue that continually arises.”

On the contrary, Missouri State University’s The Standard, in its 2013 Article,[30] mentions a seemingly warning statement from a Missouri State media law professor, saying “Administrators of recently popular Facebook pages could be held legally responsible for the pages’ anonymous submissions.”

In the Article, the Professor explains why there is really nothing anonymous in this age of the Internet. As can be gleaned from posts on the subject pages, words and names are somehow screened and filtered, thus the asterisks which basically replaced the original letters forming such words or names, for the novel purpose of not having all the objects of confession concealed. That is what the rule says. It is then part of their compliance with the rule. However, the Missouri State Professor put emphasis on the main task of the administrators. Everything, that is submitted to them anonymously, will be read by them. That is the reason why they had to do other tasks such as screening, filtering, revealing matters which the readers may be able to accept upon reading, and concealing those that they do not think will be apt for any occasion.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s FAQ on Online Defamation Law[31] provides that, “generally, anyone who repeats someone else’s statements is just as responsible for their defamatory content as the original speaker — if they knew, or had reason to know, of the defamation.[32]” And this is pertinent even if an administrator changes the name of the potential victim of defamation. According to the same Legal Guide for Bloggers, for defamation to arise, and one be granted to his claim against the latter, “the person claiming defamation need not be mentioned by name.” So, that party having a cause of action, or he, who was defamed, only needs to be reasonably identifiable. Take for instance: If X defames Y, “a cabinet secretary, eldest daughter of a former Philippine COMELEC Commissioner and who was born in Iriga City, province of Camarines Sur” – the subject is reasonably identifiable as the Secretary of Justice, Hon. Leila De Lima.*

*Example has been expounded in the context of defamation as a whole.

Extent of Liability of Service Provider(s)

From the words of the law itself, except as otherwise provided by Republic Act No. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000[33], no person shall be held civilly or criminally liable in respect of the electronic data message or electronic document for which the party acting as service provider[34] merely provides access concerning liability founded on (a) obligations and liabilities of parties under the data message or document; (b) and if the service providers do not have actual knowledge or are not aware of the possible offenses of their clients which constitute acts of making, publication, dissemination or distribution of the libellous material or statement.[35] 

Right and Duty of the Institution

As observed, the more serious posts manufactured in the Arellano Law Secret Files would usually contain students’ stand, them having aversion to or intense feeling of detest about the way the University handles even the simplest task of facilitating the enrolment, for instance. There were those who “despise” a particular professor who is into particular “habits, norms and ways of teaching” causing an infuriated contributor to post his expression of dissatisfaction. The post’s caption was: “Are we really getting our money’s worth?”

The subtler ones, on one hand, talk about life and typical stuff, or journey in love, impaired friendships or the saddened consequence of being unfriended, or rants about another student or students for having excelled in class allegedly because of samplex, among others.

In the mentioned cases, and as pointed out earlier, offensive words of expression or speech, for that matter, even if offensive, is still protected by the supreme law of the land. This is the guiding principle in imposing the appropriate sanctions. The University, in turn, must accept the fact that their students are future emissaries of law and are the very reason for the institution’s existence. Voices in the secret files cannot be reduced into the traditional media of communication in view of the practicality offered by online communication. Online interactions afford the students a way better opportunity to speak their minds, opinions and principles, which acts will not prosper if placed in an offline counterpart. The University, for its part, may use of its authority to enforce, as may be necessary and just, appropriate disciplinary actions. The same shall not be to the effect of infringing the rights of its students to freely express themselves.

It is imperative to state that an educational institution, like any other juridical entity, has goodwill in its name to protect. In accordance with a definition provided by Black’s Law Dictionary, goodwill[36] is an intangible asset of such an institution comprised of reputation, contact networks, intellectual property and trademark/tradename.  If, at any rate, the name of the educational institution be tainted by the posts springing up on the secret files page, which posts are not protected by law or which are adjudged to be unlawful in nature, said institution may go beyond the appropriate disciplinary actions. Remedies could be availed of, directly against the offender/s.

Duty of the Students

As to the contributors, majority of which are presumably bona fide students of the AUSL, their liabilities are intertwined with an individual’s freedom of expression

Talking about matters that are considered controversial and alarming like sex and scandals, the Author personally believes that, as law students, contributors to the Arellano Law Secret Files may be reasonably expected not to violate the ultimate essence of and even the primordial purpose of putting up the anonymous confession site. Law students are supposed to know the rules. They should speak or act with due care and prudence and hold fast on to what equity and justice requires.

Freedom of expression can only be hindered if words contained in the posts, are in effect, inciting other students to execute rebellious acts against the University, or displays texts or photos pertaining to obscenity, harassment and “real” threats against a student, professor or any member of the school/university responsible in the latter’s operation(s) and administration. Further, the requisite condition for the permissible interference to successfully take effect, is that such expression will cause material and substantial disruptions to every class activity and to the operations of the school/university itself.

What could be the test then which justifies the abridgment of the freedom of expression? Clear and Present Danger rule states that the abridgment of this Constitutional right may be justified where there exists substantial danger that the speech will likely lead to an evil the State has a right to prevent. The University has been granted by the State the utmost authority and power to regulate this right: such, in an effort of the institution to nurture and protect the same, as well.

As regards libel being a subject of the country’s penal provisions and cybercrime law, criminalizing the same violates freedom of expression, says the United Nations (UN), pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly Article 19 which reads,this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has even declared that the penal code’s criminal libel provision is ‘incompatible’ with Article 19[37] of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which the Philippines is a signatory. But the High Court respectfully expounds on the stand of the UN in the Disini case, putting emphasis on paragraph (3) of the same article. The UNHRC did not actually enjoin the Philippines to decriminalize libel. In the words of Justice Abad, it simply suggested that defamation laws be crafted with care to ensure that they do not stifle freedom of expression.

 

           

_________________________________________________________

 FOOTNOTES

[1] WIKIPEDIA, the Free Encyclopedia, Friendster, defined. ^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendster.^ Retrieved 2015-04-01

[2] Ibid., Social Media, defined by Wikipedia. ^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media.^ Retrieved 2015-04-01

[3] The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Social Media as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”

[4] Agbayani, Apa M. (2013). The Secret Files: Everybody’s got something to hide. Rappler, http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/technology/136-viral/44935-university-secret-files, Published 2013-11-30; Retrieved 2015-04-01.

[5] “PostSecret” is an ongoing community art project, created by Frank Warren, where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.  Selected secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website (postsecret.com) or used for PostSecret’s books or museum exhibits (Wikipedia), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PostSecret. Retrieved 2015-04-07.

[6] Palad, Faye (07 March 2014). Elbi Files: A gateway for awareness, or a dead-end for action. WordPress, fscp xx: strawberries and randomness, https://fayepalad.wordpress.com/tag/the-elbi-files/. Retrieved 2015-03-31

[7] Nachura, Antonio E.B., J. (2009). Outline/Reviewer in Political Law.

[8] Miriam College Foundation vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127930, December 15, 2000.

[9] Lloyd, Alex (2012). Facebook vs. The First Amendment: Student Free Speech in the Digital Age. University of Colorado’s The Legal Issue published by the Office of the University Counsel, Vol. 6, Issue 1.

[10] De Leon, Hector S. & De Leon, Hector M. Jr. (2011). Textbook on the Philippine Constitution.

[11] Ibid., Note 8.

[12] Section 10, Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution, General Provisions: The State shall provide the policy environment for the full development of Filipino capability and the emergence of communication structures suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation and the balanced flow of information into, out of, and across the country, in accordance with a policy that respects the freedom of speech and of the press.

[13] Anonymity, adjective “anonymous”, is derived from the Greek word anonymia, meaning “without a name” or “namelessness”. In colloquial use, “anonymous” is used to describe situations where the acting person’s name is unknown (Wikipedia) or simply, such is a condition or quality of being anonymous (Merriam-Webster).

[14] Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, as a result of the experience of the Second World War; proclaimed as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

[15] Article 19, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
  2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
  3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

[16] Ibid., Note 6.

[17] MARYNETTE R. GAMBOA vs. P/SSUPT. MARLOU C. CHAN, G.R. No. 193636, July 24, 2012 677 SCRA 385

[18] REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10173: AN ACT PROTECTING INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL INFORMATION IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS IN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR, CREATING FOR THIS PURPOSE A NATIONAL PRIVACY COMMISSION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

[19] See definition of and discussion about libel in the next succeeding page/s.

[20] Bargh, McKenna & Fitzsimons (2002). Can You See The Real Me? Activation and Expression of the “True Self” on the Internet. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 58, No. 1, pp. 33-48.

[21] Ibid., Note 3.

[22] G.R. No. 203335 11 February 2014; (E), Abad, J.

[23] REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10175: AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

[24] Section 4 of the Act enumerates the acts that constitute the offense of cybercrime:

xxx                           xxx                           xxx

(c) Content-related Offenses:

xxx                           xxx                           xxx

(4) Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

[25] Cited in the Disini vs. Sec of Justice (2014): ARTURO BORJAL and MAXIMO SOLIVEN vs. COURT OF APPEALS and FRANCISCO WENCESLAO, G.R. No. 126466 January 14, 1999; (2D), Bellosillo, J..

[26] Kunkle vs. Cablenews-American and Lyons, 42 Phil. 757, 08 February 1922.

 

[27] Senate Bill No. 53: An Act Establishing a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, Cybercrime Prevention and Law Enforcement, Cyberdefense and National Cybersecurity; The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom was proposed as an alternative to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012whose enactment was met with mixed reactions. Proponents of the bill claim that the #MCPIF is the first crowdsourced bill in the Philippines (Wikipedia).

[28] Section 52. Internet Libel, Hate Speech, Child Pornography, and Other Expression Inimical to the Public Interest. –

(a) Internet libel.

(i) Internet libel is a public and malicious expression tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead, made on the Internet or on public networks.

(ii) Malice as an essential element of internet libel. – Internet libel shall not lie if malice or intent to injure is not present.

(iii) Positive identification of the subject as an essential element of internet libel. – Internet libel shall not lie if the public and malicious expression does not explicitly identify the person who is the subject of the expression, except if the content of the expression is sufficient for positive and unequivocal identification of the subject of the expression.

[29] https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/26/college-confession-and-makeout-pages-raise-privacy-anonymity-issues. Retrieved 2015-04-07.

[30] http://www.the-standard.org/news/anonymous-posts-who-s-responsible/article_32e94ce4-a637-11e2-b496-001a4bcf6878.html. The Standard [News], 2013. By Missouri State University, [Midwestern] United States.

[31] A Legal Guide for Bloggers regarding Online Defamation Law which provides an overview of defamation (libel) law, including a discussion of the constitutional and statutory privileges that may protect an individual. https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation. Retrieved 2015-04-08.

[32] Ibid., Note 31.

[33] AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE RECOGNITION AND USE OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCIAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS AND DOCUMENTS, PENALTIES FOR UNLAWFUL USE THEREOF, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

[34] Section 5. Definition of Terms…

xxx                           xxx                                           xxx

(j) “Service provider” refers to a provider of –

  1. On-line services or network access or the operator of facilities therefor, including entities offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for online communications, digital or otherwise, between or among points specified by a user, of electronic documents of the user’s choosing; or
  1. The necessary technical means by which electronic documents of an originator may be stored and made accessible to designated or undesignated third party.

Such service providers shall have no authority to modify or alter the content of the electronic data message or electronic document received or to make any entry therein on behalf of the originator, addressee or any third party unless specifically authorized to do so, and who shall retain the electronic document in accordance with the specific request or as necessary for the purpose of performing the services it was engaged to perform.

[35] Section 30. Extent of Liability of a Service Provider –

xxx                           xxx                           xxx

(b) The making, publication, dissemination or distribution of such material or any statement made in such material, including possible infringement of any right subsisting in or in relation to such material. Provided, That:

  1. The service provider does not have actual knowledge, or is not aware of the facts or circumstances from which it is apparent, that the making, publication, dissemination or distribution of such material is unlawful or infringes any rights subsisting in or in relation to such material;

ii The service provider does not knowingly receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the unlawful or infringing activity; and

iii. The service provider does not directly commit any infringement or other unlawful act and does not induce or cause another person or party to commit any infringement or other unlawful act and/or does not benefit financially from the infringing activity or unlawful act or another person or party; Provider, further, That nothing in this Section shall affect –

xxx                          xxx                          xxx

[36] Originally, the Black’s Law Dictionary gives this definition for Goodwill: The primary intangible asset of a company, generally comprised of reputation, contact networks, intellectual property, and branding.
[37] Ibid., Note 11, par (3).

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