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Because of the Christopher Lao incident, we find  it proper to put the discussion on the right perspective.

A lot of people  think the guy was a victim of cyber bullying because of the hate messages and insults thrown against him online. Some also believed, he was a victim of a local network who lacked the sense to decipher a value adding news. Others also believed he is a victim of his own folly and arrogance.

I would like  this post, however, to delve on the difference between Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment and Cyber Stalking, and not on who is right or wrong. Please note that these three  stemmed from the same behavior, but differs on definition so appropriate law can be applied to offenders. [Yes, there are laws in other countries to address these behaviors and protect it’s citizens. And in the absence of  a PH law that will differentiate the three, we will go by the international definition]

The behavior are the same because  perpetuators use the internet, SMS, voice, picture, video messaging services, social networking sites and other forms of electronic and web based mass communication tools, against their victims. The intentions are to sow fear, express hatred, damage the reputation, destroy the self worth and for their victims not to live a normal life  [cyber stalkers agenda may include physical harm]

BUT they differ, on the following aspects:

  • Cyber bullying is committed by a minor to another minor
  • Cyber harassment and Cyber stalking is committed by an adult to a minor, or to another adult.
  • Cyber harassment is purely an online activity while cyber stalking can lead to physical stalking, harassment and other non cyber related crimes.

And in the case of Mr. Christopher Lao, it is an issue of of cyber harassment.

With this in mind,  the challenge for all of us is how to tilt the balance between the freedom to express our opinion, freedom to laugh or rage at a situation BUT remain civil.

We find more than ever the need for the government [executive, legislative and local]  to be proactive and expedite the passing of  the cyber crime and cyber bullying bills. Likewise, for the academe to include cyber bullying in their policy. These has been our call to the concerned stakeholders since we started web safety campaign and advocacy on July 2010.

We believe on the 2 fold approach-  1st] appropriate laws to guarantee our freedom but at the same time, safe guard to protect citizens from the abuses. 2nd] Educating the public. A high online intelligence reduces the risks

We believe that  right information can change the mindset and a changed mindset results to a changed behavior.