By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
THE NATIONAL Intelligence Coordinating Council (NICA) on Tuesday proposed that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) be given authority to shut down social media accounts that may be deemed threats to public safety.
“We want the DICT to be empowered and to have authority to be able to shut down social media accounts like in Facebook, Twitter and other similar mechanisms,” said lawyer Roberton G. Lapuz of the NICA at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said the proposal will be included in the consolidated bill that would amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
“Definitely. In other countries as mentioned by one of the resource persons, the minister of transportation, for example, in Australia is within his mandate to shut down any account he deems (may add) peril (when it comes to) terrorism,” Mr. Lacson told reporters in an interview.
Mr. Lapuz for his part said, “We are getting our inspiration from many other jurisdiction like in India. They have this authority to shut down Facebook or ban other social media application that can be inimical to national interests.”
Lawyer Marwil N. Llasos, anti-terrorism program coordinator of the Institute of International Legal Studies also backed the proposal.
“Anything that is harmful or hurtful to the comfort, public safety, public order can be regulated by the State. The social media has been used as a means of radicalization already and the State has to preserve itself. We don’t have to wait for something to happen,” Mr. Llasos told the hearing.
He added, “I think there is clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the State has, not only a right, but a duty to protect the inhabitants. We don’t want another Marawi [Siege] to happen. I think this will be sustained even by appropriate judicial authorities when a case is filed to challenge this provision.”
Last October, top security officials proposed an extended period to 30 days on detention without warrant of arrest against suspected terrorists, from the present three days as prescribed under the Human Security Act and the Revised Penal Code.