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CHR: Shutdown of ‘terrorist’ social media accounts ‘impinges’ on privacy

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday said the proposal to shut down social media accounts linked to terrorism could “impinge” individuals’ right to privacy.

“The State must acknowledge that the proposal necessarily entails surveillance power, which impinges on the right to privacy of communication and correspondence as well as the sacred right to private life,” CHR said in a statement.

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CHR was reacting to the proposal of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gringo Honasan to task the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to shut down social media accounts linked to terrorism. This proposal will be included in a bill seeking to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

Roberton Lapuz of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) said their agency suggested to include acts such as posting, liking, sharing, propagating hate, and participating in ISIS websites as grounds for the shutting down social media accounts.

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READ: Senators support shutdown of social media accounts linked to terrorism

The CHR added that safeguards must be initiated so that the measure will not be used to “repress legitimate social protest nor to silence criticisms.”

The Commission also said that provisions stated in the bill must be precise and must allow due process.

“To ensure protection of basic freedoms and rights, the provisions must be very precise in order to guarantee utmost due process,” it said.

The human rights agency also said provisions must authorize the State to be transparent on the methods used for its “online surveillance.”

“Further, the provisions must indicate that the State needs to be transparent about the methods, nature, and extent of its online surveillance. Such power must also require sufficient justification and specific and detailed benefits to the people,” CHR said.  /muf

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