Back when we were in pre-school, our teachers would often give us rules to follow: color within the lines, put things back where they belong, and so on and so forth. Now that we are of legal age, the stakes are a little higher; instead of worrying about coloring in the correct lines, we have to worry about staying in the correct lane while driving along EDSA. Instead of remembering to put things back to where they belong, respecting people’s physical property, we have to remember to acknowledge and cite our sources and references in our term papers, lest we be called thieves of intellectual property.
As we mature, we must learn about the various laws and rules that we must all abide by. Becoming legal is the time to open our eyes to the world of law. From the Rizal Law that gave us KASPIL1 and 2 to the Cybercrime Law that safeguards our rights online, allow us to get a little bit legal as we list five of the most interesting laws that might come in handy both inside and outside the classroom.
Data Privacy Act of 2012
In this day and age, anyone is capable of obtaining the most intimate and personal information just by knowing where to look. With the latest trends in technology, where information processing and storage are at levels deemed impossible five years ago, the concept of privacy is in danger of becoming more of a history lesson than a basic right. Thankfully, we have Republic Act No. 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012, to protect and promote the basic right to privacy. Inspired by the European Union’s Data Protection Directive, the law prohibits the distribution and processing of personal information by public and private entities without the person’s consent.
With every form that we accomplish, be it an enrolment form, a contract, or an application form, the law provides the necessary protection and gives us authority over the personal information that we expose by filling up such forms. According to an article by Janette Toral on the salient features of the act, the Data Privacy Act gives us the right to ask if the personal information is being processed the way it should be, as well as the right to request for the deletion of the data unless required by law to be preserved and processed.
Intellectual Property Code
Time and time again, we are reminded to always cite sources and to avoid claiming another’s work as our own. The temptation to “copy-paste” papers without giving due credit to the source brings about plagiarism. The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, primarily through its chapter on copyright, defines the crime. We all know that one cannot simply reproduce a part, or worse, the contents of an entire book—or any written work—without permission from the author.
However, there is another type of copyright that we should also know about: copyleft. As funny as it may sound, copyleft encourages other people to freely copy, use, and alter an author’s work, on the condition that they publish the modified work and make it available for public use as well—the total opposite to the regular commercial terms and conditions of copyright, especially in terms of economic benefits or compensation that may be due to the original author.
Copyleft is most often prevalent in the programming industry. It has been the core concept of open source software, a type of software with a license that allows access and modification to the source code of the software and the redistribution of the new version of the software for free. Android, OpenOffice, WordPress, and Firefox are just some of the many examples of open source software in the World Wide Web.
Just when we thought we said our goodbyes to the study of Rizal in high school, we’re greeted with another class or two in college. As it turns out, a student in the Philippines cannot graduate college without studying Jose Rizal’s works. Republic Act No. 1425, a.k.a the Rizal Law, was enacted on June 12, 1956 and addresses the “need for a re-dedication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died.” With the country’s current political, social, and economic issues giving us a bad case of déjà vu, the works of our national hero remain as relevant as it was in the 19th century.
With almost everyone online nowadays, it’s critical that we know the law that defines and penalizes the crimes that may occur on the internet. We never know what evils lurk in the dark corners of Facebook, Tumblr, and Youtube. For those online 24/7, please take notes.
The Cybercrime Law ensures the safety of netizens through its provisions against cyber-squatting, identity theft, child pornography, and many other crimes using the internet. Cyber bullying, which has become a popular topic in recent years because of social media buzz, is also recognized and prohibited by the law. And although the law received some flak for its provisions on libel, the Supreme Court eventually ruled the entire law constitutional.
With students joining school organizations and clubs here and there, it’s important to be aware of the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995. Several young men have lost life and limb owing to a brutal tradition that should have been left to cavemen.
The law recognizes the importance of fraternities, sororities, and organizations, but it also attempts to ensure a safer and more peaceful way to initiate new members. Republic Act No. 8049 requires school authorities to know about the initiation rites of the organization seven days before the planned activity through a written notice specifying the period of the initiation rites (which should not exceed three days) and the names of the participants, while clearly indicating the responsibility that no physical violence will be imposed on the initiates. The school must also have at least two representatives in attendance during the initiation rites to oversee that the neophytes or recruits are not harmed.
Studying Philippine laws may not exactly be our cup of tea, but it definitely helps to know some that are certainly relevant to us as college students. As young adults, it is important that we understand the legal principle, “ignorance of the law excuses no one”. We need to learn how to protect ourselves by using the law, not only as a shield or armor, but also as a weapon.