Philippines Lawmaker Introduces 'Fake News' Bill That Would Allow The National Police To Literally Police Speech

from the all-hail-the-internet-police-state dept

Fake news laws are so hot right now. Any government with an authoritarian bent is getting in on the action, stepping up domestic surveillance while trampling remaining speech protections — all in the name of “protecting” people from a concept they can’t clearly define.

It’s not just the places you expect. Sure, we may like to think this sort of opportunistic lawmaking may be relegated to places like Vietnam and Singapore, where governments have continually expressed their interest in deterring criticism of governments and kings and their shitty laws. But even our own President spends a great deal of time talking about “fake news” and the need to prevent journalists from criticizing the guy sitting in the Oval Office. And France’s government is looking at adding this to its long list of speech restrictions, even if only at “election time.”

The latest country to add a speech-squashing, government-expanding “fake news” bill to its roster of bad ideas is the Philippines. The proposal doesn’t use the terminology du jour, but “fake news” by any other name is still “fake news.” Here’s the immediate effect the “Anti-False Content Act” would have on the country’s population.

Introduced by Senator Vicente Sotto III, the bill strikes at the heart of Internet freedom, regulating if not outright policing the content of cyberspace in the Philippines. It mandates stiff prison terms and fines ranging from PHP 200,000 to PHP 2,000,000 against individuals who “create and/or publish” false and misleading content in social media sites, blogs and websites, as well as the “intermediaries” or platforms which carry the content, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Citizens are welcome to report “false content” to the government, which adds this to the tool chests of hecklers seeking a veto or online brigades wanting to put the color of law behind their deplatforming efforts. It’s “see something, say something” for the internet, which is going to turn out to be just as useless as any other iteration of “report your friends and neighbors” programs.

If citizens don’t step up, the government can initiate the complaint process itself. The three agencies authorized to do this are the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the National Police. Not scary at all. If any of these entities think the public needs protecting, it can start hunting down “false content” purveyors and extracting fines from social media companies. The law affects everyone, not just users of major social media platforms. Individual blogs can be targeted, as can the nation’s news agencies.

Rather than allow more speech to act as a corrective measure, legislators want to limit speech further, ensuring the only speech remaining will be government-approved. This is bad enough, but the agencies allowed to make these judgment calls on questionable posts/publications are among the worst to be entrusted with the literal policing of speech.

The harm that false information can inflict is undeniable. But there is far greater harm in authorizing government agencies to decide what is fake or factual news, false or accurate conclusions, correct or mistaken findings. Assigning agencies who deal with criminality and violations of law guarantees a most limited scope for the arbitration of truth.

If passed, another government will have succeeded in converting buzzwords to authoritarian power moves. The world needs less of this, but it’s the rarest of governments that can see an opportunity to expand its power without acting on it.

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Comments on “Philippines Lawmaker Introduces 'Fake News' Bill That Would Allow The National Police To Literally Police Speech”

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Apocalyptic Grasshopper Invasion - Run, Thad, run! says:

FAKE NEWS: "Trump-Russia collusion"! -- No? Okay, STATE 3 facts,

proven or at least provable in court specifically linking Trump and Russia, kids. — NOT dragging in any other topic to make yourselves appear less than utter fools for believing that.

State 3 facts with WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHO.

You CAN’T because was ALL FAKE from start.

-s-u-b-s-t-i-t-u-t-e -h-o-r-i-z-o-n-t-a-l -r-u-l-e

What a lame week! DULL topics. — And where’s the Podcast again?

Apocalyptic Grasshopper Invasion - Run, Thad, run! says:

Re: FAKE NEWS: "Trump-Russia collusion"! -- No? Okay,

Forgot to point out that YOU kids believing the FAKE NEWS that Deep State / globalists fabricate is what causes these laws.

Have a little skepticism. WAIT for SPECIFIC FACTS not just broad assertions. Sheesh.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: FAKE NEWS: "Trump-Russia collusion"! -- No? Ok

“Have a little skepticism”

I do.
It’s how I know your chances of getting a transfer from internet troll to an actual combat arm in any part of Russian military after you flunked out for whatever reason are Almost nothing unless you have some connections lol

Dave P. says:

Re: FAKE NEWS: "Trump-Russia collusion"! -- No? Okay, STATE 3 fa

Off-topic, I do believe. Old bluebottle seems to go off at a tangent at the drop of a hat these days, usually citing copyright problems being behind most of the world’s worries. There are more important things to give attention to – like a little thing called "Global Warming", for instance, that old Sky-Blue (like Trump) probably pretends doesn’t exist.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Just don't question your betters and you'll be fine... maybe'

Hefty fines and/or jail time for publishing or hosting whatever the government considers to be ‘false’, talk about a dictator’s best friend.

Well, no matter, I’m sure the kind of government that would make saying the ‘wrong thing’ illegal would never use that power to chill speech and punish those that say unflattering things about the powerful, like say exposing corruption and/or lies…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'Just don't question your betters and you'll be fine... mayb

Excuse me, but what the fuck are you trying to say? Are you expecting people to read between your lines, to add random negations and interpretations and inferences in order to bolster a certain view that you might hold but are too shy to express? What the fuck are you trying to say. Use your words, idiot, be direct.

Anonymous Coward says:

What everyone here seems to not quiet understand yet is that the days of Drama being used to advance a political or legal argument are OVER.

The whole Russian Collusion thing was a political drama, and Hillary Clinton credits herself (did you read her book) with the inspiration for this drama. It was on the Fake News media pretty much 24/7, but now that series is finished.

The TRUTH is that Trump replaced Drama with Reality TV. He is the #1 Reality TV star of all time. And people are sick of Drama, Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, and the plight of Illegal aliens when cast as victims (among others).

The time of Drama TV and Drama based Politics are OVER!

We all can tell the difference between Drama and Reality.

Well, enough of us can tell the difference to vote Trump President again.

Did you see Chelsea Gabbard? A Democratic candidate with no drama and great presence. I think good things are in for her ahead. Especially now that the media is labeling her a Russian Agent. HAHAHA.

Drama is SO over.

Get over it kids, it’s really out of fashion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do you remember the strategy that we all learned as children – that if you cheat, and win, or change the rules, and win, you’re not a winner, not really. That there is something noble about playing by the rules, and even if no one thinks you will win, even if you are not sure you will win, when you do win, you really won.

Anyone remember the merits of playing by the rules, without drama, or focusing on changing the game? Fair Play?

Anyone remember Fair Play?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe in some world, rose-tinted and traditional, that sort of belief was the norm. Maybe you could have simply followed orders, did as you were told, and played openly and fairly, and be rewarded justly.

But fast forward to today, the landscape has changed. The rules are always changing. The competition is even fiercer. There’s a constant call for disruption. It’s not called "cheating", it’s "thinking out of the box". It’s not being "unfairly advantaged", it’s called "using every means at your disposal".

Really, the only time we "punish" people who fail to play by the rules is when they get caught – and how often does that happen, given the rules of what constitutes "cheating" are a far cry from what they were decades ago?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


The time of Drama TV and Drama based Politics are OVER!

Yes, you’re right: now is the time for the politics of Donald Trump, who gives his voter base a set of Repugnant Cultural Others on whom they can blame all their problems while they ignore what he does to the country and the cultural norms of its politics. Now is the time of the presidential behavior of Donald Trump, who uses “infested” and variants thereof to describe places within the United States that are largely populated by people of color (including immigrants, legal or not), thus implying that people of color are pests that need to be exterminated. Yes, now is the time of Donald J. Trump, the man who encourages violent action through the tactics of stochastic terrorism then washes his hands of any actual violence when it inevitably occurs, the man who refuses to outright denounce White supremacy because he knows White supremacists vote for him, the man who treats politics like a reality TV show and allows people to die in concentration camps because he thinks it’ll give him bigger ratings.

You’re right, AC: This is the time for the politics of fear, of hatred, of insults and degradation and paranoia and trying to stop the march of progress towards a better society for everyone. This is the time for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Enjoy it while it lasts, for everything that has a beginning also has an end. And when their time comes to an end, society will be all the better for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You understand the congressman in question, Elija Cummings, used EXACTLY the SAME WORD to describe the SAME PLACE 20 years on in the Senate, ON THE RECORD. You know that, right, idiot boy?

Tell us about the society you want, Stephen. We all want to know. Spell it out. Elucidate.

You won’t and you can’t because you are nothing but a shit smearing asshole with nothing to say.

MAGA – That’s the idea I support.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

MAGA – That’s the idea I support.

…you support the idea that America is currently a shithole and needs to be made “great again”? Because, hey, concentration camps on American soil kinda prove that point true.

Tell us about the society you want, Stephen. We all want to know.

You don’t. But I’ll say it anyway.

I want a society where everyone — regardless of biological sex, gender identity, ethnicity/race, age, sexual orientation, disability status, or religious creed — can feel welcome in it if they don’t act like an asshole. I want a society where healthcare is a right and gun ownership is a privilege, rather than the other way around. I want a society where “Nazis suck” is not a controversial statement, White supremacists/nationalists are treated with the scorn and derision they deserve, and those who defend such assholes are made to feel unwelcome in a pluralistic, diverse, multicultural society.

I want the society Republicans are trying to prevent by stoking fears and encouraging paranoia until it boils over into violence. If you don’t think they’re doing that, ask Heather Heyer who the White supremacists in Charlottesville aligned their politics with.

Oh, right — you can’t. Because they killed her.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh wait, I have to wipe the tears from my eyes. Your drama has finally won me over to your view. Not.

You don’t like America, get the fuck out of America. You have failed to assimilate. We don’t want you either. The idea that every maladjusted sexually confused and perverted uneducated rude idiot should tell the rest of us hard working law abiding police supporting respectful Americans what to do or think is well… Crazy.

Get over yourself. Adjust or go. We don’t care about your sexually perverted angry stupid world view – go fuck yourself. You should be good at that. Now I want to go fuck my young wife. (Sweet)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You can live here. Just keep your opinions about sex to yourself. It’s called manners. Polite Society. Assimilation.

No one cares who you want to fuck, Stephen. No one cares who I want to fuck. No one cares how you feel about who you want to fuck. No one cares about any of it, Stephen, who you fuck is a footnote. It’s a private thing.

What makes you worthy is what you contribute to society. Whether you do your best to make people feel better or waste your time trying to make people feel worse. Whether you lift people up or whether you condemn and blame them for your inability to manage your own emotions.

Nobody gives a fuck about you childish assholes that go on and out about the weather. No one cares about whether you like Trump or not. I don’t even like him, not that much, actually. He’s just THE ONLY ONE that is ANYWHERE CLOSE to being HONEST.

Quit being a victim. Or as an alternative, Make your own victim country, that would be good. The United VIctims of Queensland, go there and worthship victims, vote for victims, let victims make all the important decisions. Create a cohesive society of victims.

Or stay here and fit in. We Americans are very patient. Up to you.

Until we’re not. Then we speak our mind. As a group. WIth our guns and our bibles and our flags.


Anonymous Coward says:

Fake Kamala Harris

Speaking of fake news, don’t you think that Kamal Harris is a piece of shit? She sent so many people to prison for smoking dope, and the laughs about smoking dope herself. Wow. Hypocrisy much? She laughs right on video with that guy that looks like his ears have been chewed off by a Pitbull, what’s his name? Funny looking guy, I saw him on CNN. She was laughing about how she was stoned while she put people in prison for the same thing. Wow.

Daydream says:

*checks previous Philippines stories on Techdirt*

Let’s see…
Targeted prosecution of a journalist, Maria Ressa…
Attempting shutting-down of a news site, and attempting to amend the Philippines constitution to remove free speech…
Censoring websites accused (not convicted) of file-sharing…
Huh, nothing about the horrifically violent drug war and assassinations of public officials? Weird.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: *checks previous Philippines stories on Techdirt*

Not really weird at all, TD’s primary focus is on the US, and while it occasionally talks about the USG’s disastrous attitude towards drug use(usually by police screwing up yet again) it’s not really the focus, and as for assassination of public officials that’s really not in TD’s purview, even if it is rather notable.

That said if you think they would be interested in something there’s always the ‘Submit a Story’ link at the bottom of the page, where you can point them to a story for them to consider covering.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Defensive much? Misdirect much?

I don’t think you know what misdirect means. I was commenting on how the post was off topic. Which is in itself misdirection.

The AC army, Blue Balls and Hamilton love to jump in and make their poorly worked attacks on free speech but rarely have anything to say other than "TD is doing it wrong." But never can step up and show citations, show us was their (unmoderated!) blog looks like, or how this all would work if their wonderful ideas were taken seriously.

Zof (profile) says:

Can you blame any of them?

They just watched America’s Elite try to do a Russian strawman argument against the entire country for three years, and it all end up being a proven hoax. Now they get to watch Google attack the best candidate for being too popular, and the media defend Google like they are just a bad dog and that happens sometimes. If I was any other country, I’d be worried sick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can you blame any of them?

There often is a hidden genius behind the wild swings of opinions, conspiracy theories, cultural norms and new standards. America. What a show. What an incredible 200+year reality TV show. Love it leave it. Fighting about it is OK. Sometimes I look at history and I scale back my level of disbelief about current events. Maybe I just wan’t paying attention before, it was easier to “tune out”. Hard to tune out these days. It’s been crazy a long time, unlikely to stop soon.

What about that Gabbard lady though? She’s kind of hot, showing a little chest, she was a marine or something, right? Hot body, steady stare, no shake in her voice, wow, she kind of gets me going. What do you think?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Can you blame any of them?

You know how a lady looks at you when she’s telling you OK I KNOW you want to FUCK ME, she looks with a little smile and subtle assertion of power over you that she knows and you know and she knows you know she knows? You know?

That’s that Gabbard lady – when she miles at me, like on UTube, I am SURE she knows what I’m thinking, just LOOK AT HER! She knows.

I might abandon Donald for her. Really. I want to believe her. You know what I mean? Just talk, Chelsea (is that her name?), and look me straight in the eye and give me that little sexy smirk. Wow!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I KNOW she’s not going to fuck me, I’m not going to fuck her either, I have a GORGOUS young wife to fuck. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. And she KNOWS I think about it! And I know she knows I know, oh, it’s all very REAL! Get it?

REAL! REAL! I am talking about something real! Get a candidate that men want to fuck! It will work. Hillary was a loser and a double loser with her belly hanging down around her knees, yuck! Men will vote for a lady that want to fuck, the same way ladies wanted to fuck that nigger Obama! Why do you think he got elected? Ladies (and gay boys and trans) thought he was HOT! (never did it for me, but of course, all those niggers look pretty much alike to me) They all wanted to FUCK HIM so they VOTED FOR HIM. Obvious from the word go. You think anybody wants to fuck that Budigeg guy? Not many, that’s for sure – his fuck quotient is almost zero.

When are you guys going to get REAL? TELL ME SOMETHING REAL!

I share with you, you should share with me. Try it, it’s fun!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can you blame any of them?

In the meantime – uh…what?

The only thing that saved Donald Trump from definitely having done the things we all expected him to do was his own incompetence and the incompetence and disobedience of those around him. John Oliver did an entire segment on it.

What the fuck do you think Google is doing, exactly?

dickeyrat says:

Klarg is right. Just give it a few years, after Blump regains power in 2020/2021, and the Philippine statute will be the model for one right here in Neue Amerika. Blump, McYertle, sweet Lindsey and all the rest of the Fascists are foaming to get this into effect here. Putin will be a happy boy! And don’t you worry, Blump WILL regain power next year. 1) The Dumbocrats are too incompetent to mount any meaningful opposition. 2) The Amerikan voters ARE stupid enough to actually elect him, and/or 3) Failing all else, Blump will take it by force, with the flailing, burbling support of his idiot backers. Basically, as a country, we are fucked.

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