MANILA, Philippines — Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay has filed a bill that would regulate the “exploitative and irresponsible” use of social media by the victim’s relatives, former spouse or partner or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.
Binay said the bill on the Electronic Violence against Women (E-VAW) she filed Monday sought to amend and expand the provisions of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Act of 2004.
“Although the VAWC Law already protects women and children against physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuses, it does not include other forms of digital harassment like cyberbullying,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Binay said that most of the cases of online bullying, cyberstalking and other forms of digital harassment were being perpetrated by people close to the victims.
“Being bullied or harassed by a known perpetrator, or someone close to you, has a serious emotional and psychological impact than being hassled by a stranger. It’s more painful for the victims if they know the perpetrators,” she said.
Since the enactment of RA 9262, Binay said, women and their children have been provided with additional alternatives and protection against abusive conduct and violence.
But the law, she said, has not taken into consideration the prevalent and widespread reach of the Internet and communication technology.”
Binay, who has been ridiculed on Internet during the campaign, immediately clarified that her proposed measure had nothing to do with her own experience.
“This bill is not about what I have experienced during the campaign. Those who commit the crime should have a personal relationship with the victim. That’s why it’s specified: an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband . . . as long as there’s a personal relationship,” she said in an interview with Senate reporters.
“Electronic violence” is defined in the bill as any act involving the exploitation of data that “can cause or is likely to cause mental, emotional and psychological distress or suffering to the victim.”
This can involve the unauthorized recording, reproduction or distribution of videos showing the victim’s private parts; uploading or sharing any form of media with sensitive and indecent content without the victim’s consent; harassment through text messaging, electronic or any other multimedia means; cyberstalking, including the hacking of personal accounts on social networking sites and the use of location trackers on cellular devices and the unauthorized use of the victim’s identity (pictures, video, voice, name) for distribution that can harm the victim’s reputation.
Under the bill, any act causing electronic violence against a woman and her child would be punishable by incarceration from six months to six years, while threats causing electronic violence could be punished by incarceration from a month to six months.
“Offenders can be penalized up to P300,000 but not more than P500,000 depending on the gravity of distress caused to the victim,” she said.
The bill also provides a protection order to prevent further harm and distress to any woman and her child.