Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate criticized House Bill 4807 or the Protection against Personal Intrusion Act, also known as the ‘Anti-Selfie Bill,’ saying that it would affect not just the media but everyone with a cellular phone camera.
“At first glance, the terms used in these provisions may seem harmless and well meaning. Yet, a deeper look at how they will impact in everyday lives is truly worrisome. It affects not only those in the media profession but everyone,” Zarate said.
He added that he finds the title of the bill misleading when it has serious implications on the freedom of expression and of the press as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution.
The controversial measure authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, defines the following as an act of intrusion against other people’s privacy:
- capturing by a camera or sound recording instrument of any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of the person
- trespassing on private property in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of any person
- capturing any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person or family activity through the use of a visual or auditory enhancement device even when no physical trespass has occurred, when the visual image, sound recording or other physical impression could not have been captured without a trespass if no enhancement device was used.
The bill states that all of these shall be presumed to have been committed with the intent to gain or profit.
A person who claims that his privacy was intruded may file a civil action against the person who took the photo.
Law enforcement activities, however, are exempted from the law.
The Photojournalists’ Center in the Philippines (PCP) has also expressed apprehension over the proposed law, adding that the media could be targets of the said bill.
“Our apprehension is based on the premise that the act being made punishable by this proposed measure is not clearly defined to the point that other acts can be considered unlawful by virtue of the statute,” Mike Alquinto, chairperson of the PCP, said.
Alquinto, in a statement, added that House Bill 4807 can become a tool for unwilling public figures to suppress press freedom.
Not about selfie
In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the bill’s author Rep. Rodriguez said he does not know why Zarate would call the bill Anti-Selfie bill when the word “selfie,” defined as taking one’s photo and posting it on social networking sites, was never mentioned in the bill.
Zarate, for his part, said that since the provisions are too broad, that “even an innocuous selfie with public figures inadvertently caught at the background would be liable for intrusion of privacy.”
House Bill 4807 is now being discussed at the plenary after the Committee on Public Information approved the proposed law.