We now live in a borderless world. Information has become freely accessible at the click of a button wherever you may be in the world. The internet of things has made it possible for anything that happens on the other side of the world to become instantly available in the Philippines.
Our Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has opined that a person is deemed engaged in mass media activities if:
- it disseminates information to the general public, and
- such information is designed to affect or influence the people’s way of thinking and lifestyle.
Similarly, online platforms whose content is accessible from the Philippines, even if they are located outside the Philippines, are considered as doing business, and is thus subject to the requirement of obtaining a license to do business in the Philippines.
Under such a broad and general definition, foreign-based online platforms such as the The New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Amazon, Booking.com, Expedia.com, and Facebook are mass media entities doing business in the Philippines.
Not only is the interpretation an administrative nightmare for enforcement but also, quite frankly, preposterous.
We cannot imagine that when the Constitution and our Corporation Code were enacted, the framers intended to cut the Philippines off from the rest of world.
Living amidst this technological phenomenon, where global information can be accessed instantaneously without need for face-to-face interaction and physical spaces, requires us to empower our people and businesses to benefit from the free flow information rather than stunt their development and competitiveness.
A liberal outlook will certainly not be without any basis in law.
Otherwise, we stand the risk of spiraling down a dangerous path of isolation from the rest of world. – Rappler.com
The author is a law professor in the Ateneo Law School. The views in this column are exclusively his. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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