Wanking to lewd Web videos now a crime in the Philippines!

Now that there is an anti-Cybercrime law in the Philippines, stuff published online is now subject to the same libel laws that have for some time been applied to stuff published on traditional media like newspapers and magazines and broadcast on TV and radio. I suppose the principle there is that computers and their networks are just another medium used to disseminate content. As such the libel law just needed to be updated to cover those new distribution channels.

But then the same law also bans “cybersex”, defined as…

[…] the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.

There is something wrong with that part of the law. If the Web is considered by the law to be just another form of publication or broadcast medium, wouldn’t the Web (using the same thinking) also be just another venue for sexual activity? In essence, blogging and social media is to traditional media as cybersex is to traditional sex in the bedroom (or car backseat, for that matter).

Whereas there is an existing libel law that penalizes unlawful behavior in traditional media that can be applied now that the concept of “media” has been extended to the Web, there is no law against sexual activity between consenting adults in traditional places (like the bedroom) that can be applied to non-traditional venues for sex.

The sentence structure with which the clause on cybersex is articulated in the new law allows us to interpret it into component stipulations using the following structure:

the willful…

[choose one:] {engagement, maintenance, control, operation};

[choose one:] {directly, indirectly};

…of any…

[choose one:] {lascivious exhibition of sexual organs, sexual activity};

…with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.

We can construct one permutation from the above phrase that will look like this:

“the willful engagement, directly, of any sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system for favor or consideration”

Voila! One can argue that masturbating while watching lewd videos online even in the privacy of your own home is a criminal activity under that premise. Wow! The Philippine police are gonna have their hands full arresting hundreds of thousands of Filipino wankers!

I’d understand if the cybersex parts of the new law apply existing laws covering unlawful sexual activities to online venues (like it does for libel). However, reading the text describing the definition of (now unlawful) cybersex in Republic Act 10175, it seems that all online sexual activity — including that engaged in by consenting adults — is now a crime in the Philippines.

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Post Author: Kate Natividad

Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.