This report is a documentation of what transpired in 2021, specifically how human rights were impacted by technology and digital innovations in the Philippines. While we continue to experience life under the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, we also see new challenges and events such as the emergence of COVID-19 variants, spotty and slow vaccination rollout in the country, the start of the election fever, and more.
It still holds that Filipinos continue to rely on the Internet and technology for work, school, connecting with loved ones, as well as for getting timely information and news updates. Reports and surveys show the continued rise of digital use and logging into social media platforms for these activities.
But with another pandemic year, have Filipinos become aware of their rights as digital citizens? Are we also prepared to select the next leaders of the country who will be mindful of our digital rights, or at least how to address digital issues such as inaccessibility, attacks on our freedom of expression online, online gender based violence, privacy and data protection, and cybercrime and cyberthreats? What is the “new normal” after almost 2 years after a major upheaval into our lives: Is it a continued movement between offline and online spaces for our everyday activities?
While this report does not aim to be the end-all and be-all of digital rights, the Foundation of Media Alternatives (FMA) hopes to increase awareness on the Philippines’ digital environment and the issues and innovations that impact us not only online, but also offline. It may seem simplistic to say that “digital rights are human rights” but this is the message we want many Filipinos to understand.
In a nutshell, our objectives in writing this report are:
- To document the current events and issues which affect digital rights (and human rights) in the Philippines through providing a curation of essays, reports and articles that FMA has created during the year;
- To see the trends and themes in specified key areas of digital rights and issues; and
- To raise awareness on emerging issues as seen in the scoping or the trends.
For 2021, we structured the report by collecting key articles and essays FMA has created during the year and organized these under these key thematic areas:
- Internet Freedom
- Gender and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)
- Privacy and Data Protection
- Information Disorder
This report is based on FMA’s monitoring of situations where technology impacted human rights in the country. It covers the months of January to December 2021, and the analysis and scoping is conducted using secondary resources such as news articles, press releases and reports–especially those featured in the Digital Rights Roundup, a bimonthly curated reading list in collaboration with the UP Internet Freedom Network (UP INTERNET). These reference materials were selected based on the subject matter and also on their credibility. We also included inputs based on the meetings, activities, and discussions with partners and stakeholders on digital rights issues, challenges, and accomplishments.
Lastly, we provided a forecast of what we think are the emerging events and challenges due to technology and upcoming events in 2022.
Publication date: March 2022