Lawmaker files bill vs bullies on Facebook
MANILA, Philippines—A veteran lawmaker has it in for bullies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
Leyte Rep. Sergio Apostol has filed a bill imposing a 6- to 12-year prison term and fines on people found guilty of bullying or threatening others over social media, including e-mails.
“For every benefit that social media may bring lies the danger of some who take it as a means to take advantage of another. Cyber bullying and other forms of harassment through the use of social media may cause mental and psychological anguish to their innocent victims,” Apostol said in the explanatory note to the measure.
The bill defines cyber bullying as “the use of social media to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner.”
With the ubiquity of the Internet and electronic devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets, social media sites have become popular venues for people to reach out to friends and air their opinions.
Apostol said anyone who uses social media to communicate with others and share information has to practice the “responsible and fair exercise” of his or her right to free expression and opinion.
“He must give everyone his due, observe good faith and avoid any form of harassment that may bring harm or shame to the name or reputation of another, without any valid or legal justification, in a public forum through the use of social media,” he said.
Aside from the prison term the bill would impose a fine of P30,000 to P50,000 on cyber bullies.
For those found guilty of libel through social media, the penalty will be from 6 months to 6 years in prison and a fine of P30,000 to P50,000.
Apostol’s bill, filed late last month, comes as the Supreme Court continues to deliberate on the constitutionality of the cyber crime law, which imposes harsher penalties for online libel and which has raised fears that sharing posts and tweets may also lead to criminal liability.
Critics of the law, the implementation of which has been temporarily stopped, have also warned that it would curtail free expression.
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