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Group urges passage of site blocking bill

The Philippine Star
Group urges passage of site blocking bill
CitizenWatch Philippines co-convenor and former congressman Kit Belmonte called on senators to pass the Online Site Blocking Act (Senate Bills 2150 and 2385), which are also being pushed by the Private Sector Advisory Council.
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MANILA, Philippines — A consumer advocacy group is urging the Senate to prioritize the passage of two bills protecting creative workers and consumers alike from the dangers of online content piracy.

CitizenWatch Philippines co-convenor and former congressman Kit Belmonte called on senators to pass the Online Site Blocking Act (Senate Bills 2150 and 2385), which are also being pushed by the Private Sector Advisory Council.

“This administration has repeatedly emphasized the central role of digital technologies in our nation’s economic life,” Belmonte said. “But technology has its pitfalls – in this case, it has become a platform for online piracy which makes it even more difficult to curb. Thus, we have to act fast.”

The pending bills seek to amend and strengthen the 26-year-old Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and give more teeth to the Intellectual Property Office to enforce anti-piracy measures. The IP Code in its current form does not include electronic and online content in its definition of pirated goods.

Belmonte said that piracy kills Filipinos’ innovative spirit and deprives content creators of fair compensation for their invaluable work.

“Original content is what makes creators unique and indispensable to society. The creative industry is already threatened by untrammeled artificial intelligence. It needs to be protected from those who seek to profit easily and unfairly,” Belmonte added.

He warned that the resulting erosion of morale would eventually cause creative workers to pursue other fields, thus endangering the viability and spirit of the arts.

“The current cyber landscape is haven for cyber criminals stealing intellectual and real property of netizens. No one is safe.”

“The operators of piracy websites are making a big killing out of the hard works and big investments of producers and creators of original content,” Belmonte said.

In May, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 7600 authored by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda that would give authority to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to block websites that violate the Intellectual Property Code and expands its enforcement functions to investigate, gather intelligence, and develop countermeasures to piracy. The bill will also establish the responsibilities and guidelines for internet service providers to block websites hosting pirated material.

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