ALL PH-BASED BLOGGERS and Web content developers should already be pressing the Panic Button by now! But they aren’t. Or at least there is no significant chatter yet on Blogosphere.ph about this matter. To me this lack of attention on the matter only means one thing: the architects and proponents of this sneaky and vile plan are succeeding in pulling the rug under us. Unless we do something about it soon.
I am referring to the ‘rumor’ that the government, through the NTC, is dead set on imposing restrictive controls on practically anything that has to do with posting contents — any content — on the Web!
More bad news! This is a rumor no more. There is already a draft Memorandum Circular (MC) dated December 22, 2008 entitled, “Guidelines on the Provision of Contents, Information, Applications, and Electronic Games.” This MC is even posted in the NTC Website. (To view the NTC Web posting, click here. I copied and pasted the whole MC below for a quick reference and for me to make some highlights and annotations.)
The MC’s title may seem innocuous and harmless. They even used “electronic_games.html” for the the HTML file name, an obvious attempt to cloak it’s true nature as well as to keep it away from the prying eyes of curious people, particularly bloggers and the media.
Even the MC’s text may seem harmless and may even seem to be generally beneficial. But we should be more discerning. We have to carefully understand the MC’s true intention hidden behind the legalese and motherhood statements. My very first observation is that the MC’s scope is TOO BROAD and TOO VAGUE. In other words, it can be ‘spinned’ to mean anything and cover everything, whichever suits its architects and proponents.
I hope to see more PH bloggers critically dissecting this impending MC in the days and weeks to come. Let’s be vigilant.
NTC Draft Memorandum Circular Downloaded from:
22 December 2008 draft
SUBJECT: GUIDELINES ON THE PROVISION OF CONTENTS, INFORMATION, APPLICATIONS, AND ELECTRONIC GAMES
WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution fully recognizes the vital role of communications in nation building and provides for the emergence of communications structures suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation;
WHEREAS, the promotion of competition in the telecommunications market is a key objective of Republic Act No. 7925 (RA7925, for brevity), otherwise known as The Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines, which mandates that ìa healthy competitive environment shall be fostered, one in which telecommunications carriers are free to make business decisions and interact with one another in providing telecommunications services, with the end in view of encouraging their financial viability while maintaining affordable rates.
WHEREAS, RA7925 further defines the role of the government to ìpromote a fair, efficient and responsive market to stimulate growth and development of the telecommunications facilities and servicesî;
WHEREAS, the provision of contents, information, applications, and electronic games to the consumers creates demand for telecommunication networks and services ñ the development of contents, information, applications, and electronic games should therefore be encouraged and facilitated;
WHEREAS, the entry of more contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers in the market will result to lower prices benefiting the consumers;
WHEREAS, to further encourage the development of contents, information applications and electronic games, the prevailing access charge regime between the contents, information, applications and electronic games providers and the networks providers which is revenue sharing should be replaced by fixed access charge;
WHEREAS, in the power sector the consumers can purchase their power requirements from independent power producers ñ power producers are not subject to nationality requirement;
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to RA7925, Executive Order (EO) No. 546 series of 1979, and in order to encourage and facilitate the development of contents and the provision thereof to the consumers, the National Telecommunications Commission (Commission) hereby promulgates the following guidelines:
1. The following terms as used in this Circular shall have the following definitions:
a. Content ñ refers to all types of contents delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers such as music, ring tones, logos, video clips, etc.
b. Information ñ refers to all types of information delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers, e.g. road traffic information, financial information, visa application information, etc.
c. Application ñ refers to all types of applications delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers, e.g. mobile banking, electronic payments, point of sale service, etc.
d. Electronic Game ñ refers to games played online except gambling.
e. Contents Providers ñ are persons or entities offering and providing contents to the public for compensation through the networks, systems and/or facilities of authorized networks, systems and/or facilities providers.
f. Information Providers ñ are persons or entities offering and providing information to the public for compensation through the networks, systems and/or facilities of authorized networks, systems and/or facilities providers.
g. Applications Providers ñ are persons or entities offering and providing applications to the public for compensation through the networks, systems and/or facilities of authorized networks, systems and/or facilities providers.
h. Electronic Games Providers ñ are persons or entities offering and providing electronic games to the public for compensation through the networks, systems and/or facilities of authorized networks, systems and/or facilities providers.
i. Contents Developers ñ are persons or entities creating contents.
j. Information Sources ñ are persons or entities providing information to Information Providers.
k. Applications Developer ñ are persons or entities creating applications.
l. Electronic Games Developer ñ are persons or entities creating electronic games.
1. Contents, Information, Applications and/or Electronic Games Providers, Contents Developers, Information Sources, Applications Developers, and Electronic Games Developers are required to have commercial presence in the country and shall secure Certificate of Registration (COR) from the Commission.
2. There shall be no nationality requirement for contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers, contents, applications and/or electronic games developers and information sources.
3. The application for registration shall be filed and acted upon by the Commission not later than seven (7) working days from date of application.
4. The application shall include the following documents:
a. Valid registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission or from the Department of Trade and Industry and Articles of Incorporation;
b. Facilities lease agreement with duly enfranchised and certificated public telecommunications entity; and
5. The Certificate of Registration shall be valid for a maximum period of five (5) years. Applicants for registration may opt to apply for shorter period not shorter than one (1) year. Certificates of Registration shall be renewable.
D. FEES AND CHARGES
1. The following fees and charges shall be imposed:
a. Filing Fee : PhP 300.00
b. Annual Registration Fee: 6,000.00
c. Surcharge for late : 50% of the annual registration fee if application
filing of application is filed within six (6) months from date of expiry
for renewal 100% if filed after six (6) months from date of expiry
1. The rates shall be deregulated. The contents, information, applications and/or electronic games provider shall inform the Commission of the rates for each of the content, information, application or electronic game offered at least three (3) days prior to the offering of such content, information, application or electronic game. Contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers seeking increases in rates shall inform the Commission of the details of such increases at least five (5) days prior to the implementation of the increase. The Commission in the exercise of its mandate to protect consumers may not allow the increase. If the Commission does not act on the information within five (5) days from receipt of the same, the contents, information, applications and/or electronic games provider can impose the new rates.
F. ACCESS CHARGES
1. Networks, systems and/or facilities providers shall provide access to contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers upon request and based on an access agreement. Access to the networks, systems and/or facilities of duly authorized providers by registered contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers shall be mandatory.
2. The access charge shall be negotiated. The access charge shall be cost-oriented and shall not be higher than the prevailing retail rates, not promotional rates, for the service where the contents, information, applications and/or electronic games are offered/provided.
G. CONSUMER WELFARE AND INTEREST
1. Contents, Information, Applications and/or Electronic Games Providers shall strictly comply to the provisions of MC No. 05-06-2007 (Consumer Protection Guidelines), MC No. 04-06-2007 (Data Log Retention of telecommunications traffic), and MC No. 03-03-2005 (Rules and Regulations on Broadcast Messaging Service) and its amendments.
2. Complaints from the subscribers/users shall be presumed to be valid. The burden of proof shall be upon the contents, information, applications and/or electronic games providers.
1. Violation of any of the provisions of this Circular shall be a ground for the revocation or cancellation of the registration as Contents, Information, Applications and/or Electronic Games Provider.
2. The Commission may direct the disconnection of the access to the networks, systems or facilities of authorized providers pending the investigation of a complaint filed by a subscriber/user if the Commission finds that there is strong evidence against the contents, information, applications and/or electronic games provider.
3. Any violation of this circular shall be dealt with in accordance with law.
E. Final Provision
1. Any circular, order, memoranda or parts thereof inconsistent herewith are deemed repealed or amended accordingly.
2. This Circular shall take effect fifteen (15) days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation and three (3) certified true copies are furnished the UP Law Center.
Quezon City, Phlippines _________________________.
RUEL V. CANOBAS
JORGE V. SARMIENTO
JAIME M. FORTES, JR.