Internet freedom advocate defends ‘freedom to connect’

10 Feb

As the Supreme Court extended the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the implementation of the Cybercrime Law, law school dean John Paolo ‘Bong’ Villasor was among those who hailed the High Court’s decision as “the initial step towards victory in our ongoing struggle to protect the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.”

Villasor, the dean of the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) School of Law and a professor of Constitutional Law, is also one of the legal counsels of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA).

PIFA’s lawyers, representing the online movement of netizens, bloggers, citizen journalists and media practitioners challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, were at the forefront of the oral arguments in last January’s en banc session of the Supreme Court (SC).

PIFA filed the fifteenth petition to question the controversial law before the High Court.

“Supreme Court extends TRO on the Cybercrime law,” according to Dean Villasor’s Twitter account. The update was posted just a few hours after the Supreme Court’s public information office announced the TRO extension in a text message to media.

For Dean Villasor and the members of PIFA, the SC resolution is a step in the right direction, a chapter which began on Twitter, went on to Facebook, and now ending on a high note, back to Twitter.

“It’s interesting how social media has enabled people of different political persuasions to connect with each other, unified by a common cause – to defend the freedom of the Internet,” Villasor remarks. As @cyberdean07 on Twitter, Villasor joined his fellow netizens as pioneers of PIFA, and has since been involved in the group’s advocacy.

Given his vigorous engagement in social media, and the obvious demands of being a practicing lawyer, an educator, and an administrator all at the same time, it is no surprise that Villasor relies heavily on his cellphone and mobile service for constant connectivity, specifically through mobile Internet.

“As a lawyer, it is often necessary to multitask. I am constantly in transit, yet I need to keep in touch with many people, including those in my office, my school, family, friends and associates. Mobile internet connectivity is likewise essential in performing my tasks efficiently,” Villasor shares.

Dean Villasor cites as an instance the two days he and the rest of the PIFA team were preparing for their petition leading to the scheduled oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

“When my fellow lawyers and I were meeting to discuss our petition, certain points required us to look at relevant material on the Internet, while keeping in touch with other members of the legal team who could not join our ad hoc physical meeting. I was able to multitask and accomplish all these on a multi-functional cellphone that had dependable call and text capability, with considerable speed and accessibility to the Internet, and of course, the widest coverage,” said Villasor.

Barely six months ago, the apparent disconnect with his former network prompted him to switch to Smart. “The problem in my former network came at a time when I needed my communication device to be reliable. I had to make a lot of calls, email people, send SMS, and do research online – unfortunately, it was during such time that I experienced technical difficulties,” Villasor recalls.

Despite his loyalty to his former mobile provider, these technical difficulties were a dealbreaker to Villasor, who, as a lawyer, considers the freedom to connect to be a basic human right in the new century.

“I look at three factors when I choose a network. Reliability of the service is the most important factor to me. Technical expertise is also critical – a network must be able to resolve difficulties at the soonest possible time. Network coverage is likewise very vital,” Villasor enumerates.

“In today’s world, we increasingly rely on cellphones for our daily communication needs – enabling us to ‘live more.’ And I can honestly say that my Smart mobile service has been my most dependable,” Villasor adds.

“When one considers the three reasons I chose Smart – reliability, expertise, and coverage – one can say these are the same reasons that truly give people the freedom to connect, a fundamental right cherished by everyone in the digital age,” Dean Villasor concludes.

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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Smart Communications, Technology


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