Why Nancy Binay wants students to learn cyberethics
MANILA, Philippines – “I don’t believe in regulating social media.”
After becoming the favorite subject of memes and satirical stories during the campaign and the butt of Black Nazarene jokes online, Senator Nancy Binay wants students to learn a new subject in school: cyberethics.
Binay called on the Department of Education to include in the basic education curriculum what she calls “nethics” or Internet ethics.
In an interview with Rappler, Binay explained that the proposal she made in Senate Resolution 474 aims to promote responsible use of the Internet through education instead of laws that may restrict free speech.
“’Ang pag-spread of information, may responsibility iyan. For example, ang mga journalist, meron din kayong Code [of Ethics] that you follow. Kasi ako, I don’t believe in regulating social media. Ang mga users noon, should be ma-inculcate sa kanila na each one has a responsibility to spread what is the truth,” Binay said on Wednesday, February 5.
(The spread of information entails responsibility. For example, as journalists, you have a Code of Ethics that you follow. Social media users should be taught that each one has a responsibility to spread the truth.)
The senator said that she wants cyberethics to complement the good manners and right conduct subject as a “special non-academic program.” She compared it to teaching students road courtesy, traffic rules, and table manners.
Binay said the details and parameters of teaching cyberethics will be fleshed out during committee hearings. One of the topics she wants to tackle is preventing misinformation online.
“From my experience, ang daming misinformation sa net. Kung hindi ka [critical], you can be fooled. Ang nangyari sa akin, ang mga satires written about me, some people believed kasi ‘di nga nila alam o ‘di nila napansin kasi siguro ‘di nila binasa in detail na satire yun. Akala nila totoo nga ang article written about me.”
(From my experience, there is so much misinformation on the net. If you are not critical, you can be fooled. What happened to me was there were so many satirical articles written about me and some people believed it because maybe they didn’t read it in detail. They thought it was true.)
During the campaign, some netizens fell for satirical stories about Binay like one saying she sought a court order against joining debates. Binay said then that she was a victim of cyberbullying. She was the subject of criticism on social networking sites with netizens questioning her inexperience, refusal to join debates and even her skin color.
In her resolution, Binay cited the lack of education on social media use, and cyberbullying as reasons behind her proposal.
“The aggravating effects of cyberbullying are alarming, daunting and detrimental to the development of [the] youth,” she said.
Despite her statement against regulating social media, Binay is not entirely opposed to laws relating to the Internet.
Last year, she filed the Electronic Violence Against Women bill, which aims to protect victims of online violence from “further harm” from perpetrators who are their close or distant relatives, a former spouse or partner or an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.
What’s under cyberethics?
Binay said that it was not her campaign experience that led her to recommend teaching cyberethics. She said she used as inspiration a similar resolution that Kabataan Partylist Rep Terry Ridon filed in the House of Representatives.
Another factor is her children, some of whom have Instagram accounts. Binay has 4 children, aged 12, 10, and twins aged 5.
“It’s more of ang experience ko as a mother kasi nakikita ko ang mga anak ko, sila ang generation who will rely heavily on technology.” (It’s more of my experience as a mother because I saw that my children are part of a generation who will rely heavily on technology.)
Ridon filed his resolution last month, saying there is growing support for teaching children Internet use and safety. He cited the work of advocacy groups of Internet education, which include “specially-crafted lesson plans, videos and programs to teach cyber-security and cyber-ethics to children as young as 8 years old.”
The youth representative told Rappler that he will ask the House Basic Education Committee to take up the resolution, after Education Secretary Armin Luistro reportedly expressed support for the measure.
“It can include Social Media Education, Cybercrime Prevention, Basic Internet Use, among others,” Ridon said.
Teach kids rights vs abuse
Binay said her proposal is related to reports that the livestreaming of sexual abuse of children has become a cottage industry in the Philippines. An international investigation cracked a pedophile ring behind the abuse.
“That’s also part of cyberethics. We have to teach children their rights, that not just because it’s just a video and there’s no physical contact with predators, it’s correct,” she said.
Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Grace Poe are calling for an investigation into child pornography, and reports that call centers are being used as fronts for cyberpornography.
“News reports show the need for Congress to amend laws that could strengthen, augment and coordinate the efforts of concerned government agencies to eliminate cyberpornography in the country,” Santiago said in Senate Resolution 476.
The senators said the reports of cyberpornography highlight the urgency for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which has been pending before the Tribunal for more than a year.
Court insiders said the decision was postponed this week because voting was “complicated.” Human rights and media groups including Rappler questioned the law, saying provisions on online libel and the removal of content were too broad and vague, and gave the government too much power over netizens.
“If they declare it unconstitutional, we can start talking about laws that we can pass to replace it to protect [Internet users] because cyberpornography is not the only crime. There are many other cybercrimes now,” Binay said. – Rappler.com