Dumb: The cyberspace has become a very dangerous place.
Dumber: Dangerous ideas easily spread there.
Dumb: I think there has to be a virtual Big Brother who shall monitor what’s happening online.
Dumber: Not only monitor but instill discipline. Daang matuwid is not chaotic, you know.
Dumb: We will regulate the internet?
Dumber: Yeah, those so-called netizens think that freedom is absolute. We have to teach them a thing or two about responsible democracy.
Dumb: So, what are you thinking?
Dumber: Let’s invent a new crime.
Dumb: Like what?
Dumber: Um, internet libel.
Dumb: Internet libel? But there’s already the regular crime of libel.
Dumber: Idiot. It’s a new crime. Regular libel applies only to printed materials. Those cybercriminals are using a new medium – online publications, blogs, Facebook accounts, Twitter. So we charge them with internet libel.
Dumb: Ok. But how about those writers who publish libelous content in their printed publication and in their online version?
Dumber: That’s easy. We charge them with regular libel and internet libel.
Dumb: I’m not smart but isn’t that double jeopardy?
Dumber: You’re not listening, no? Internet libel is a new crime.
Dumb: That’s pretty cool! Those cybercriminals will surely be thinking many times before they publish their libelous thoughts. Haha!
Dumber: You know what’s cooler? Under internet libel, we can also charge the cybercriminal’s accomplices. You see, in regular libel, we can’t make those who spread the libelous content accountable.
Dumb: I don’t seem to follow you.
Dumber: Can you keep a record of the people who share a libelous article in a printed newspaper?
Dumb: No. That’s impossible.
Dumber: But not in the internet. You can easily see who shared in Facebook or tweeted and retweeted a libelous article. We can also make them liable for abetting the crime.
Dumb: Wow! And if we really want to make internet libel effective, we can make those who “like” a libelous article liable, too!
Dumber: Now you’re talking.
Dumb: I’m loving this internet libel thing. Those criminal online writers, bloggers, Twitterers and Facebook users will certainly be scared to death with the thought that they can be penalized for committing libel.
Dumber: I’m thinking of an even harsher penalty. Since it’s a new crime, um, a penalty that is one degree higher than what is usually provided under the Revised Penal Code seems fair.
Dumb: I’m having a tyrant’s hard on right now.
Dumber: Wait till you hear this. There’s a takedown provision.
Dumb: A takedown what?
Dumber: If someone commits a cybercrime, like internet libel, we will take down his or her website.
Dumb: And that is special because…?
Dumber: We can do it even without a court order. A judge doesn’t need to determine probable cause. If based on our first impression a cybercrime has been committed, we can take down the site.
Dumb: That’s wickedly awesome!
Dumber: (nodding while grinning)
Dumb: I love your brain.
Dumber: I know.