Utter Bullshit: Reporter Maria Ressa Arrested Over Bogus Charges For Her Critical Reporting

from the free-speech-has-to-matter dept

We've written about reporter Maria Ressa, who started the successful news site The Rappler in the Philippines. Ressa, herself, is a force of nature, who has upset a lot of people with her incredibly detailed and thorough reporting. Last year, we wrote about how the Duterte government was trying to intimidate and silence her with bogus charges, claiming that because she had accepted grant money from US foundations, she was engaged in tax evasion.

Today things ramped up quite a bit with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) (the Filipino equivalent of the FBI) coming to arrest Ressa at her offices, claiming that she violated a "cyberlibel" law. Incredibly, the article that the government claims is libelous... was written four months before the law they claim it violated actually became law.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing in court of cyber libel charges against Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr over a story published in May 2012 – or 4 months before the law that they allegedly violated was enacted.

The case, filed by the DOJ, stemmed from a complaint by businessman Wilfredo Keng, who was identified in a Rappler article as the owner of the SUV that then-chief justice Renato Corona had used during the impeachment trial.

Keng complained not about his alleged ownership of the vehicle, but about the backgrounder on him as having alleged links to illegal drugs and human trafficking, based on intelligence reports.

When the officers came to arrest Ressa at her office, some of her colleagues tried to film the situation on their mobile phones, and the NBI agents tried to get them to stop:

In response to this Rappler has said it will not give in to the intimidation:

“We are not intimidated. No amount of legal cases, black propaganda, and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line. These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail.”

The statement further lays out why the charges are clearly bogus and trumped up:

A complaint was filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng 5 years after a story was published on May 29, 2012, or months before the cybercrime law was enacted. Our story said former chief justice Renato Corona used a vehicle registered under the name of Mr Keng, who, based on intelligence reports and previously published stories, had alleged links to illegal drugs and human trafficking. We called Mr Keng and got his side before the story was published.

The filing of the case is preposterous and baseless. No less than NBI Cybercrime Division chief Manuel Eduarte closed an investigation in February 2018 after finding no basis to proceed, given that the one-year prescriptive period had lapsed. Eight days later, however, the NBI revived the case, and filed it with the Department of Justice on the basis of a theory they call "continuous publication."

This is a dangerous precedent that puts anyone – not just the media – who publishes anything online perennially in danger of being charged with libel. It can be an effective tool of harassment and intimidation to silence critical reporting on the part of the media. No one is safe.

This is why in the US (and other countries) we have what's known as the single publication rule, in that the date of original publication is the date at which any statute of limitations clock starts ticking (mostly). Yet, it appears the Philippines is arguing for no single publication rule and that "continuous publication" means liability can last forever. Furthermore, even if this was libelous (which sounds questionable), shouldn't libel be a civil matter between two private parties, rather than involving the criminal justice system?

And, of course, remember, that the Philippines' Constitution has a close analogue of the 1st Amendment in the US (there it's their Section 4):

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.

That would certainly suggest that the law being used to arrest Ressa is unconstitutional. Various journalism organizations are already condemning this arrest as a clear attempt at silencing Ressa and Rappler in their critical reporting of the Duterte government:

"The Philippine government's legal harassment of Rappler and Ressa has now reached a critical and alarming juncture," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "We call on Filipino authorities to immediately release Ressa, drop this spurious cyber libel charge, and cease and desist this campaign of intimidation aimed at silencing Rappler."

Filed Under: cyberlibel, defamation, free speech, libel, maria ressa, nbi, philippines, renato corona, rodrigo duterte, wilfredo keng
Companies: rappler


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:08am

    The answer is simple

    I'm sure there will be some sort of appeals process that will be followed to the letter~. An appeals process is all that is needed to address this issue~. No need for further investigations or new laws~. And if there is a need for a new law, it just needs to lay out a simple appeal process, and nothing else~.

    …ugh, writing like Sanford hurts my head even if it’s all sarcasm.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 2:46pm

      Re: The answer is simple

      Sucks. But hardly unprecedented. Read up on the Beatles travels in the Philippines some time.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:18am

    Besties

    Just a good time to point out that Trump, who is on record saying the press is an "Enemy of the people, is besties with Duterte.

    A free and open press really pisses off petty dictators, eh?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/world/asia/trump-duterte-philippines.html

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:24am

    National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) coming to arrest Ressa at her offices

    That's weird. Don't they know that arrests should be served as pre-dawn raids whenever possible? Did they put it off because they couldn't find enough armored vehicles?

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    • identicon
      kallethen, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:47am

      Re:

      They put it off until the courts would be closed so a bail hearing would have to wait until the next day thus forcing her to stay in a cell overnight.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

      Nah, they are more into cryoto-deputized thugs on motorcycles just brutally murdering people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:27am

    The single publication rule, combined with Section 230, makes people defenseless against libel that turns up in search engines, which is why anyone who relies on Google to check out other people has defective DNA and would be best sterilized. If the original publisher cannot be found within as little as a year in some states (or as many as three in others), the clock expires and they are SOL.

    The United States used to criminalize libel, and given the horrendous impact it can have on people (since important people rely on search engines to make life-changing decisions regarding them), these laws should return. Someone should have recourse when an archive of a single posting on an obscure message board can ruin them, or when someone uses an offshore site to duck liability (many powerful people use these offshore-based sites to silence their critics by ruining them, and then there's "reputation blackmail.").

    A federal law criminalizing libel (which, hopefully, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will introduce) would wipe Section 230 off the map. Absent that, eliminating the single-publication rule for websites which can easily remove defamatory content is necessary in light of Section 230.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      Can someone translate this word salad from Dummy to English?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      She’s still not gonna fuck you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        Aside from you being the one who is sexualizing her at the mention of her name, even in threads where I did not, you seem to be claiming to have knowledge of how she thinks to the point of speaking for her.

        Profilers would generally consider YOU the red flag in that situation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:59am

          Best projectionist in Hollywood or the world?

          “Profilers would generally consider YOU the red flag in that situation.”

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      The single publication rule, combined with Section 230, makes people defenseless against libel that turns up in search engines,

      If search engines were responsible for indexing defamatory pages then there wouldn't be any search engines, since it's impossible for an algorithm to determine if something is defamatory.

      Or, wait, are you the commenter who claims to have figured out a way for search engines to exclude defamatory pages, and that in the absence of Section 230 you'd be able to make a business out of a search engine with this amazing defamation detecting technology?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:46am

        Re: Re:

        Search engines are NOT immune in other countries, yet they somehow still exist in Australia and the UK, so you're wrong. They exist because of the notice-and-takedown setup that allows them to avoid liability if they remove defamatory content once put on notice. This is less burdensome than the "right to be forgotten."

        Female victims of revenge porn should have had this option but did not. If you place Google's need to exist above a woman's need not to be targeted by revenge porn, I'd say that speaks for itself.

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        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They exist because of the notice-and-takedown setup that allows them to avoid liability if they remove defamatory content once put on notice.

          Ah, okay. For some reason I'd assumed that you wouldn't be in favor of any sort of safe harbor provisions like that when it came to defamation; my bad.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Before Section 230, distributor liability in America kicked in only after the distributor was put on notice of the defamation. Interestingly, Congress did NOT include the word "distributor" in Section 230, and the courts usually consider such an omission to be an indicator of legislative intent. The Supreme Court has had twenty-three years and many chances to simply affirm Section 230, yet they have refused to do so. Why? Until they do, it is not resolved.

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        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Female victims of revenge porn should have had this option but did not. If you place Google's need to exist above a woman's need not to be targeted by revenge porn, I'd say that speaks for itself.

          I'd agree that Google should voluntarily do this. And in the absence of Section 230 varios revenge porn laws might require Google to take down links to revenge porn (depending on the wording of the laws). Is that all you're saying? I'm uncertain as to whether or not you're implying that revenge porn is a type of defamation that would fall under defamation laws.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Revenge porn is harassment under most state law, but even that is immunized under Section 230. Distributor liability does NOT require a website to be treated as the publisher or speaker of an item. It's a separate category.

            Yes, Google SHOULD remove inaccurate or defamatory/privacy-invading links, just as companies SHOULDN'T advertise with them until they do, and "good" people SHOULDN'T do business with companies that advertise in websites that hide behind Section 230, but that's Fantasyland.

            Reality? Money and power prevail, it's everyone for themselves, and no one wants to be your friend unless you have something to offer. If you are screwed over by Section 230 or anything else, either you deserved it, or you're bitter and angry and should be avoided (because bitter, angry people don't have anything to offer).

            People who think this way are basically declaring war on those they speak to this way. If the target of their derision takes corrective measures by playing by their rules and beating them at their own game, they will be the ones who started it. If someone bullies another, thinking the other will never become stronger than them, they deserve what they get. Fuck with someone unprovoked at very serious peril, because the person fucked with will literally turn into a different person and have absolutely no mercy when the tables turn.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2019 @ 5:15am

        Re: Re:

        "defamation detecting technology"

        Is this referred to as DDT?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      Opinions about the work yo are trying to sell are not defamatory, even if the result is less business.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:04pm

        Re: Re:

        I wasn't talking about opinions of a creative work, but rather lies that cause people to act out. Even those are immune. India has a big problem with vigilante mobs who have reacted to online defamation with violence, and are looking to revise "Article 79" of their IT law, which immunizes distributor liability via a notice-and-takedown scheme similar to what US law requires of people offline.

        If you support Section 230, you are saying it is more important than any individual's reputation, or even the well-being of female revenge-porn victims. There's a reason it keeps getting challenged, and congress wants to revise it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      ... which is why anyone who relies on Google to check out other people has defective DNA ...

      Anyone who uses Google to check out other people will presumably follow the link to see who is making the claim about the PoI (Person of Interest):

      • If the one making the claim about the PoI is anonymous, then they checker would presumably give that claim the appropriate weight.
      • If the one making the claim was not anonymous, but in a country making it difficult or impossible to sue, then presumably the checker would also give that claim the appropriate weight.
      • If the one making the claim was not anonymous and in a country making it easy to sue them, then presumably the checker would also give that claim the appropriate weight.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Re:

        So they follow the link and, in some cases, now their computer is infected with a virus, put there by liars for the specific purpose of misleading the stooge into mistreating the target.

        Yes, people are always rational and smart, as well as educated enough to judge internet sources. No one is EVER misled. Sometimes it can even be a fake review on a US site.

        What these Googlers don't realize is that their internet searches for gossip or "dirt" become part of THEIR internet history, and fair game for reviews of THEIR businesses (including law practices), or websites about THEM, which, unlike the defamatory websites, are not lying.

        Sometimes these sites are put up by people that lawyers hire to set up these stooges for defamation lawsuits that the lawyers then come in to defend, paid for by rich people or, if the stooge is not rich, crowdfunded. This is an internet racket most people can't even understand, let alone stop. People are just plain stupid, which goes back to the need to sterilize them, lest they reproduce with other idiots who believe what they read on the internet.

        Google has the reliability of a bathroom wall, except with libel on a bathroom wall, the owner of the venue with the bathroom can be sued for letting it stand. One should never do business with sites who advertise on the internet as well, since Section 230 immunizes the platforms against claims of false-advertising.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:06pm

          Re: I don’t think we need to worry about you propagating

          Of course you are a proponent of eugenics.

          In a related note. Has anyone ever noticed that eugenicists have absolutely no chin whatsoever, in addition to being incels?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:33pm

            Re: Re: I don’t think we need to worry about you propagating

            Sitcom-level sexual shaming!

            It makes the sex better to know that having it with women who'd never even talk to them pisses off people like this.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:38pm

              Sitcom-level sexual shaming!

              I’m sure you’re used to that by now, Sanford.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:44pm

              Re: Re: Re: I don’t think we need to worry about you propagati

              “It makes the sex better to know that having it with women who'd never even talk to them pisses off people like this.”

              Another Davinchiesque masterpiece of projection. You truely ARE the gift that keeps on giving.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: I don’t think we need to worry about you propagati

              Let me guess. She’s a model from Canada and we wouldn’t know her.

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        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So they follow the link and, in some cases, now their computer is infected with a virus, put there by liars for the specific purpose of misleading the stooge into mistreating the target.

          Wait, what? How is a virus infection from a webpage defaming John Doe going to mislead people about John Doe?

          What these Googlers don't realize is that their internet searches for gossip or "dirt" become part of THEIR internet history, and fair game for reviews of THEIR businesses (including law practices), or websites about THEM, which, unlike the defamatory websites, are not lying.

          How are third parties going to get their hands on someone's search history? I mean, in theory Google could sell the search histories of individuals to third parties, in which case if I didn't like John Doe I could buy his search history and put it up on a website, but Google isn't going that now. Are you implying that Google will start doing this in the near future, so people should be worried about their search histories?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm talking about third-parties who relink to the virus-infected, defamatory website to discredit someone in an internet argument. THAT becomes part of their internet history: they were dumb enough to believe what they read online, and followed a search-engine link to a virus-infected, defamatory website all because they wanted "dirt" on someone.

            Once that is part of their internet history, the person they were targeting can use "counterspeech" to document this history on the business website of the person (even an attorney) who started the fight, and unlike the aggressor, won't be telling lies. In other words, the website lied about John Doe, but John Doe wasn't lying when he posted a review to the other party's business website that this party visited a virus-infected website and even linked others to that site because it had defamatory content they wanted to believe about John Doe.

            "When you point a finger, three are pointing back at you."

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            • identicon
              TFG, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Translation: "This is a convoluted twist of invented logic that has no basis in reality. It is presented in a confusing fashion, either due to incompetence, or due to a desire to be as obfuscatory as possible in order to derail the ability of the people I am interacting with to respond in a coherent fashion.

              "I have proven to be an intransigent commenter with no willingness to consider anything that does not support my own assertions, and no willingness to provide any outside data or evidence to support my own assertions.

              "I either react with indignation when people call this out, or simply run away, and am therefore generally consider to be a liar, and idiot, or both."

              Have a nice day, Sanford.

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re:

        How "easy" is it to sue someone for libel if one is not wealthy? Suppose the person in the US is judgment-proof, homeless, dying, or whatever?

        Section 230 allows for defamatory content to become a quasi-official "record" on the person. That should never be tolerated. There should be recourse as there is with credit-reporting to have inaccurate items removed.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 14 Feb 2019 @ 12:32am

      Re:

      "The single publication rule, combined with Section 230, makes people defenseless against libel that turns up in search engines"

      No it doesn't, it just means that your lazy money grubbing ass has to sue the originating site that actually committed the libel rather than Google. The information will disappear off Google once the originating content is taken down.

      "If the original publisher cannot be found"

      If Google indexes it, the host must be up. Go after that host. Simple.

      I'm sorry that the concept of "attack the person who committed the crime, not the nearest witness" is so hard for you, but thankfully other still believe in a just society.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:29am

    The Filipino journalists remind me of that guy who stopped the tanks in Tianenmen square. Good luck with that.

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  • identicon
    Sharur, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:42am

    "written four months before the law...became law"

    Is this actually a problem, legally speaking? (Ethically, the whole thing is horrible, but I am asking from a legal perspective only).

    I know the US Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, but does the Philippines have similar prohibitions, enshrined in law (as opposed to common sense)?

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    • icon
      Killercool (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:21pm

      Re: "written four months before the law...became law"

      Even if they do, it might not matter.

      Since she's in violation of a "cyberlibel" law, depending on the mental gymnastics you use, every time a new person looks at your website is a "new publication."

      Is your publication date the day you clicked 'post,' or when the "new copy" is generated by the server when someone follows a link? It's obvious that printing a new batch of libelous books is actionable, but some idiots argue that you're "printing" a new copy every time your server responds to a data transfer request.

      If a judge is ignorant enough, or bought well enough, then they can decide that ex-post-facto laws don't even apply. You've been continuously "printing" the material since you uploaded it.

      That's ignoring, of course, that the "libelous" content the reporter was arrested for was: A - factual; B - obtained from believable sources (court documents); and C - taken from government intelligence reports. In a sane country, none of those qualify as libel.

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re: "written four months before the law...became law"

        Single-publication on the web has been debated at the highest levels of the judiciary. There are many fine people on both sides of the debate.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:36pm

      Re: "written four months before the law...became law"

      It is a problem for some because trump loves this guy.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:54am

    Incredibly, the article that the government claims is libelous... was written four months before the law they claim it violated actually became law.

    This is why a principled stand against any and all retroactive laws is important, because if not, stuff like this happens. Stuff like retroactive copyright term extensions, or even well-intentioned things like the recent police records law in California, need to be opposed just as much as "big things" like this, otherwise they become the proverbial camel's nose that ends up leading to big things like this.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 11:56am

      Re:

      Important to YOU.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:05pm

        Re: Re: Smith

        Wait, you support arresting journalists like this? Is this the gist of your posts on this topic? Because she was arrested on libel laws, you are cheering on the press an an enemy of the state?

        Take yer meds mate.

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Smith

          I support criminalizing libel.

          I don't care about the rest of the post, hence the words "Important to YOU." I'm sure it's very important to you.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Smith

            It's not libel when it's true.

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          • icon
            Gary (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Smith

            If you don't care about the post, then maybe don't comment on it?

            We know you don't like free speech - and have a really sad set of ideas on how intermediate liability should work. And love to repeat ad nauseum, no mater how off topic. And nothing new to add to your long repetitive rants...

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      Stuff like retroactive copyright term extensions, or even well-intentioned things like the recent police records law in California, need to be opposed just as much as "big things" like this, otherwise they become the proverbial camel's nose that ends up leading to big things like this.

      I disagree with your assessment of California's police records law. Nothing in the question of "retroactivity" in that law violates ex post facto concepts. It is not criminalizing anything that happened in the past. It is merely saying that past records should be available to the public now. So that's a very different story. If it was criminalizing past police behavior, I'd agree. But it is not, so it is not at all equivalent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Killercool (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:23pm

        Re: Re:

        The answer to the question, "Did my local/state police officers do things that were illegal at the time they happened?" should never be "You don't have a right to know."

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 12:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Is it really that different (wrt.retroactivity), if the reporter is being arrested for distributing a past story now?

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        • identicon
          TFG, 13 Feb 2019 @ 1:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes. You see, the reporter's story was not illegal when it was posted (if it's even illegal now).

          The records of police misconduct are records of actions of that were illegal at the time they were committed.

          The law simply says that the police have to let the public know about those illegal actions.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 2:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes. You see, the reporter's story was not illegal when it was posted (if it's even illegal now).

            OK, but was she arrested for writing an illegal article (a charge easily dismissed if the law was not in force then) or for distributing an article more recently?

            In the USA for instance, there are types of pornography that used to be legal to distribute and now aren't; people can't be prosecuted for having taken/distributed those pictures legally, but if you have them up on your website you'd better get them off of there: distribution is a crime now, for which past distribution is not a defense.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        *sigh*

        That's the point I was making: a retroactive law is a retroactive law, and trying to artificially partition it into "bad retroactive (criminalizing stuff)" and "acceptable retroactive (everything else)" is a bad idea. The court cases that established that were badly decided, and a principled view would reject the entire thing. Anything that gives legitimacy to the notion of laws that can reach back in time and change the rules of the game out from under you--even if that change is one that happens to be a positive one from your point of view--should be opposed, if for no other reason than because it sets a bad precedent that can be used against you in the future.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...are you opposed to releasing people from prison after the law changes and their crimes are no longer criminal? Possession of marijuana in states where it's now legal, for example? Or sodomy convictions prior to SCOTUS ruling that sodomy laws were unconstitutional?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 1:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What part of "it's important to stick to principles even when they lead to an outcome you don't like, because if they get eroded, next time it could be used to stop an outcome you do like" don't you understand?

            It's not very big, (yet!), but there's a real movement out there to lower the age of consent in the USA. If this were to happen, depending on how it gets implemented, one of the effects could well be to lower the legal age threshold for participating in pornography. In such a case, would you support the release of child pornographers who knew that what they were doing was extremely illegal when they did it? (And if not, how is this any different?)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              TFG, 13 Feb 2019 @ 1:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Problem: the law in question isn't retroactive in that sense.

              The law specifically requires the release in the now of records that currently exist. The only "retroactive" part of this is that the records in question may document actions that occurred prior to the law's existence.

              The law does not retroactively make any actions illegal. All records in question document actions that were already illegal. The actions that are compelled by the law cover behavior moving forward. It does not hold anyone culpable for failing to release records prior to the law coming into effect.

              I get your argument, Mason, but it doesn't apply to the police records law.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2019 @ 2:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's not very big, (yet!), but there's a real movement out there to lower the age of consent in the USA. If this were to happen, depending on how it gets implemented, one of the effects could well be to lower the legal age threshold for participating in pornography.

              How do you figure? The age for pornography is above the age of consent in every state, AFAIK. (Unless you mean in relation to those ridiculous arrests of teens for sending photos of themselves, which is a real problem that needs legislative fixes)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 2:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You didn't answer my question.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 4:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's the point I was making: a retroactive law is a retroactive law

          But that's the point you're missing. This is not a "retroactive law." California's law only applies to NEW requests for information. It is just determining what is subject to those requests.

          That is entirely different. Do you really not see that?

          trying to artificially partition it into "bad retroactive (criminalizing stuff)" and "acceptable retroactive (everything else)" is a bad idea.

          No, you are completely mixing up two very different things. It is one thing to change the law retroactively. We agree that's bad and wrong. But it's entirely different to argue that things that used to be kept secret should now be made public. Or are you arguing that documents the government improperly classified should always be deemed classified as it would violate "retroactivity" to declassify them?

          Because if that's the case, you're... going to have to make one hell of an argument to support that sort of nonsense.

          Anything that gives legitimacy to the notion of laws that can reach back in time and change the rules of the game out from under you

          But that's not what's happening. Literally, this law ONLY APPLIES TO NEW REQUESTS. Stop pretending it's something different.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 14 Feb 2019 @ 7:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No, you are completely mixing up two very different things. It is one thing to change the law retroactively. We agree that's bad and wrong. But it's entirely different to argue that things that used to be kept secret should now be made public. Or are you arguing that documents the government improperly classified should always be deemed classified as it would violate "retroactivity" to declassify them?

            Because if that's the case, you're... going to have to make one hell of an argument to support that sort of nonsense.

            You know, with as much as you talk about nuanced arguments, it's a bit disappointing how often you seem to assume that people who disagree with your position don't have any of their own.

            There are policies in place that say that classified documents will be declassified at some future point. The people creating these documents are (or reasonably ought to be) aware of this; they know that what they're creating will eventually be for public consumption, and in many cases this understanding can influence their choices in writing it. This is a well-understood phenomenon; among other things it's the reason the deliberative process privilege exists as an exception to public records laws.

            When you have something that was written without that understanding, its content is likely to be different in style and substance, and changing the rules out from under the author is unfair to them and to the people the records are about. (Which in this case includes not only the police, but also the people they interact with.)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              TFG, 14 Feb 2019 @ 7:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              When you have something that was written without that understanding, its content is likely to be different in style and substance, and changing the rules out from under the author is unfair to them and to the people the records are about.

              These are records of police misconduct. AKA, they record actions taken by members of law enforcement that were illegal. These records are now being made available to the public, to force some accountability on a department that is paid by the public (via taxes), and ostensibly is intended to serve the public good.

              The whole point of the law is predicated on the idea that it was unfair to the public to not be allowed access to these records of police misconduct. This law addresses that lack of fairness.

              Please explain how "it might have been written differently if it was known it was going to be released," and the potential lack of fairness that presents to the author of the record outweighs the issues that locking away these records presents. Please explain how the release of these records to the public, which serves the public interests, is outweighed by style concerns.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Feb 2019 @ 2:22pm

      Re:

      Stuff like retroactive copyright term extensions, or even well-intentioned things like the recent police records law in California,

      Bad example. The california law isn't changing anything retroactively, it's making clear that records that already exist are open to being seen by the public if they ask.

      The law isn't saying 'Since you refused access before the law, you're going to be punished', it's making clear that if they refuse access now they will be punished, and that yes, that includes old records too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2019 @ 5:25am

    I think all this are red herring, using Philippines vs Ressa. Are we forgetting it should be Ressa vs Keng? Notice that Ressa never denied about the libel, she mostly focus on the technicality’s of cyber libel law.

    From what I have read the warrant of arrest was issued on feb 12, she have the whole day of the 13th to post bail yet she didn’t. It looks very scripted actually. The media are ready on the day of her arrest, I believed she planned it so she could present herself as a martyr. She actually posted a bail after spending a night in NBI. Lions to me a planned media exposure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2019 @ 6:36am

    I'm not entirely sure what "cyberlibel" means.

    Is it special just because it occurs in cyber-land?

    Maybe it is not even real because it is in your cyber-head.

    Everything is new and improved with the addition of cyber.

    Yes, you too can be super cool with your new cyber-complaints.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 14 Feb 2019 @ 8:36am

    This fall

    Coming to CBS this fall: NBI: Cybercrime Division

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A. Jed Cheddar, 14 Feb 2019 @ 2:12pm

    By the way, "Ressa" is probably a CIA agent.

    After Duterte started crackdown on drugs, suddenly "ISIS" showed up and made terrorist attacks. NOT coincidence.

    Out of all arrests in the world, Masnick is highly selective. Journalists were among the hundreds MURDERED by Israel in recent months, besides the thousands wounded for life, due to protesting the apartheid wall where they're penned like animals in their own country. -- But never a hint of any bad about Israel from Masnick (especially not that the WALL there is evil). Only what serves his Googly agenda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2019 @ 6:16pm

    context

    The Philippines are now a country where you can get killed by someone who doesn't like you, and as long as they're in the government's good graces, they can claim you were a "drug dealer" and nothing will be done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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