Freedom of Expression and Right to Privacy - Disini Law Office
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Freedom of Expression and Right to Privacy

Last November 5, 2020, Disini Buted Disini Law hosted Freedom of Expression and Right to Privacy, the second webinar on digital human rights for the Digital Transformation Thursday (DTT) series. The episode shed light on several topics surrounding rights of free expression and privacy in the digital landscape. Among the topics touched upon were collateral censorship, data surveillance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. The speakers discussed the consequences and challenges brought about by social media in the protection of the fundamental right to free expression and privacy. 

Atty. Romel Bagares, former Executive Director of the Center for International Law-Philippines, explained  the basic characteristics of new media with regard to its ubiquity for enabling speech of billions of people, its extensive reach at a global scale, and its required technological infrastructure with a business model based on “surveillance capitalism”. The rise of social media, Atty. Bagares said, has unintended consequences. He enumerated four of these: speech by algorithm based on collected personal data, death by speech due to the incitements posted on platforms like Facebook, political manipulation and polarization, and spread of misinformation campaigns to influence and interfere with political decisions. Atty. Bagares ended with a strong statement, saying that the best way to protect freedom of expression is to continue to express it. 

Atty. Jamael Jacob, Legal and Policy Advisor for the Foundation for Media Alternatives and former OIC-Director for the Privacy Police Office of the National Privacy Commission, differentiated the concepts  of privacy right and data privacy;  the latter is only one of the several manifestations of right to privacy, emphasizing that data privacy has become significant because of the digital age. He identified three main issues with regard to data privacy: the proliferation of data intensive systems which processes personal data on a large scale basis, the rise in cybercrimes relating to privacy and personal data like hacking and cyberbullying, and the emergence of a real-life surveillance society. Atty. Jacob concluded his talk by giving possible solutions in addressing these issues, with great emphasis on technologies being grounded in law. “The bottomline of data privacy laws is to safeguard and protect the human rights of citizens, both online and offline,” said Atty. Jacob.

Atty. JJ Disini, Managing Partner of Disini Buted Disini Law, moderated the webinar and facilitated the question and answer. The recording of the webinar, which garnered more than 1,000 views, may be accessed through the Disini Law Facebook page. For upcoming Digital Transformation Thursday webinars, please visit