Wednesday, August 31, 2011

illegal SMS rumors

Rumor mongering through blackberry, instant messaging or SMS could land you three years in jail in the UAE.

The law covers prohibits transmitting defamatory remarks, spreading lies, false information regarding fires, murders or other crimes, as well as spreading rumors about merchandise, cancer-causing agents, or mentioning outlets carrying the merchandise.

Would a law similar to the UAE's pass constitutional muster in the Philippines?

Freedom of speech is a highly valued right in the Philippines. But it is not absolute. It does not protect certain kinds of speech, such as those that incite illegal conduct, or obscene or fighting words, or libelous or defamatory speech. Speech that is shown to pose a “ clear and present danger of a grave and imminent evil which the government has a right to prevent” is also not protected.

Thus, depending on how the law is worded, defamatory remarks and false information against fires and similar catastrophe may fall under unprotected speech. But the latter class of speech (about merchandise and cancer-causing agents), may not pass constitutional review as easily, especially since penal laws are construed strictly against the State.

Entry 11

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