Nancy Binay files bill vs cyberbullies, online violence

Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2013 - 11:58am

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Nancy Binay, who was ridiculed in the internet during the 2013 election season, has filed a bill seeking to safeguard victims of cyberbullying and other forms of "online violence" from further harm against their perpetrators.

The proposed Electronic Violence Against Women (E-VAW) Law of 2013 aims to regulate the exploitative and irresponsible use of social media that has become “a mode of disseminating scandals involving both television personalities and private individuals.”

Binay's measure intends to amend and expand the provisions of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004. It defines “electronic violence” 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.”

These acts involve the unauthorized recording, reproduction or distribution of videos showing the victim’s private areas; 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.

In a press statement, Binay said most of the cases of online bullying, cyberstalking and other forms of digital harassment can be 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. Mas masakit sa mga biktima kung kakilala nila ang gumagawa ng mga panliligalig sa kanila,” the neophyte senator said.

But Binay clarified that her proposed measure is not directed against her online critics last elections.

"[T]his bill is not about what I have experienced during the campaign... So this is not about me. Nakakalungkot lang kasi parang tinitira na naman ako ulit na parang I'm trying to suppress the freedom. Ito ay another protection para sa ating mga kababaihan," she said.

According to the proposed measure, any act causing electronic violence against a woman and her child is punishable by incarceration from six months to six years, while threats causing electronic violence can 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. The proposed law also provides a protection order to prevent further harm and distress to any woman and her child.

The E-VAW Law of 2013 is among the 15 priority bills the lady senator has lined up on her first day in office.

Related story: On 1st working day, Nancy Binay lines up 15 Senate bills

At the height of the campaign period for the 2013 elections, Binay received online criticisms for her desire to run for senator despite her apparent lack of experience in holding a government post.

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