"So what is the purpose of the proposed regulation?"
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) recently earned the ire of many legislators and even the public for its intent to put Netflix, a popular online streaming service, under their regulatory and censorship jurisdiction. For the MTRCB, the regulation means public empowerment. For the many who have spoken, it’s unnecessary.
Since the advent of the internet, information sharing across the world has become easier. It is instant. This not only involves news and general information, but also communication and entertainment. Facebook, probably the biggest social media platform today, has been one of the primary means of communication and entertainment of millions of Filipinos for more than a decade now. Meanwhile, YouTube has been a universal source of videos online. Netflix, on the other hand, is a relatively new service. It was launched in the Philippines in 2016. Since then, it has become the go-to online movie streaming platform for many, especially in this pandemic.
These innovations have posed many challenges that compelled changes in the social and legal facets of our daily lives. However, these changes are admittedly hard to heed, considering that our existing laws came before the birth of the internet. The difficulty perhaps lies in the vastness, complexity, and expedience of technology. Today, you can search and view anything you like on the internet, as long as you have the device, code, or subscription.
Despite this, let us not be hypocrites. Before considering regulation over legitimate movie streaming services, let us first take note of the rising incidence of online pornography and online sexual exploitation in the country during this pandemic. While on Enhanced Community Quarantine in May, the Department of Justice noted that online sexual exploitation of children increased by 264 percent during the period of community quarantine. Moreover, there were reports on the increasing number of students engaging in illicit sexual activities online in exchange for gadgets to be used for distance learning.
While the MTRCB calls for the specific regulation of Netflix, the issues above remain unresolved. Should regulation and censorship be a top priority, it is rather odd that YouTube and pornographic sites are still running free from such government control. The leniency over these sites contradicts the demand for censorship over Netflix. So, what’s the purpose of this sought-after regulation?
YouTube has self-regulatory mechanisms which allow it to delete and block inappropriate content. It can be assumed that the same goes with Netflix. The movies and television programs available and accessible via their app are commonly those in the mainstream in various countries. Hence, while there seems to be a lack of government regulation in the app, its contents may have been guaranteed to have undergone some form of screening process.
Apart from this, I believe that the responsibility is also in the hands of the parents or guardians, in the case of minors. During this time of the pandemic, parents should be able to keep an eye on the online activities of children and supervise their streaming activities. While the internet serves as a very useful tool during this crisis, let us be more mindful and responsible regarding its use.