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How Far Would You Go?

Jan 19, 2009

With the recent events on the suspension of QCSHS students regarding blogging, I remembered what happened almost a year ago. The issues and the people involved may be different, but they share one thing in common: they both criticized their respective schools. I remember last year, during the height of that issue, my mom would always tell me to be careful with what I write. “It would get you in trouble one of these days,” she said. I was cocky at that time, thinking that they cannot do anything about it, since I’m an outsider who happens to know a lot about what’s happening inside.

When I heard about the suspension of the students, it got me wondering how things would have turned out if I was still an insider when that thing happened. Would I be punished for writing that entry, because it tainted the reputation of the school I am working for?

You could be sued for libel if you insult someone on printed media and on television. But blogging is a different matter. There are lots of articles in the Internet about the nature of blogging and how it is different from journalism. See for instance the articles at Filipino Voices, and even my friend Alex wrote something about it.

Is it right to impose punishment on individuals who says something negative about an individual or an institution on a blog? Martin says that some punishment is in order, but mainly because of the language used by the students in the alleged blog entry. The College Editors Guild of the Philippines says that it is a form of campus repression and hence a violation of human rights.

The blog is indeed a powerful tool in spreading information. Been there, done that. And this issue is worth following because this will be a precedent for future blog-related cases. But to resolve this issue, one must first answer this question: When is a blog entry considered punishable by law?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Perez permalink
    Jan 19, 2009 10:39 pm

    I can only speak from the perspective of a school and invoke the concept of vicarious liability. Hence, what go on in our students’ blogs are our responsibility too, especially if we encounter something that infringe on the rights of others or cause unwarranted damage or harm.

    Other forms of electronic transactions are not immune to this; many times have I handled cases of scandalous e-mails, instant messages and even Friendster profiles that alarmed students, parents and administrators alike.

    From my experience, I realize that what we lack are frameworks — primarily legal and pedagogical — that will allow us to successfully intervene in these cases. The medium does not mitigate the crime, but it may compromise the instruments we currently use to deal with these offenses. There is nothing in a blog that makes it above the law; the problem is that our laws have yet to catch up with these technologies that transform virtually every day.

  2. Jan 20, 2009 1:13 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there is a forum that would discuss this thing? Blog-related cases are increasing, and it would only continue to increase unless something is done about it.

  3. Martin Perez permalink
    Jan 20, 2009 1:10 pm

    As far as the general blogosphere is concerned, there are fora. Events such as iBlog have been the primary venue for these discussions.

    But the very nature of blogging requires that these discussions are localized. Yes, there can always be universal ethics and guidelines to adhere to. But for instance, if Pisay were to successfully manage these cases, then discussions will have to start here. We haven’t had that and yes, that would be nice.

  4. Jan 20, 2009 2:22 pm

    I agree. Those who blog just for the heck of it do not really follow what’s going on in the blogosphere. It is better if these discussions are localized.

    Maybe you should start it in Pisay. Hehe.

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