Journalists: HB 4807 – Privacy Bill Dangerous To Press Freedom

by Ronalyn V. Olea

MANILA – Journalists expressed alarm that the bill purportedly aimed at protecting privacy would infringe on press freedom.

House Bill 4807 or An Act to Provide Protection from Personal Intrusion for Commercial Purposes penalizes the “intrusion of the personal privacy of others.” These include 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, among others.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said that the provisions of the bill are overly broad and that “it is likely to be used as another weapon for the criminal and the corrupt to escape accountability should it become law.”

In the same vein, the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP) said that the bill would make the media and journalists vulnerable to civil suits.

The PCP underscored that Section 4 of the bill, which states that the fact that no visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person was actually sold for gain or profit shall not be available as a defense in any civil action, is worrisome.

“We worry that this proposed measure can become a tool that ‘unwilling public figures’ will use to suppress press freedom,” the PCP said.

The PCP added that the term “private property” must be spelled out and defined. “Does ‘personal privacy” extend to public domain or public places in private spaces, for instance malls, shopping centers, events venues, a luxurious resort, among others?” the photojournalists asked.

The NUJP said the measure could end up stifling citizen journalism and even simply taking pictures or videos for personal pleasure.

“In an era where technology is quickly breaking down the obstacles that hamper the flow of information and expression, which are the bedrock of democracy, HB 4807 could return us to the dark ages and worse, be used as a weapon of suppression and repression,” the NUJP said.

The campus press also assailed the proposed measure.

Marc Lino Abila, national president said the bill is “immensely unconstitutional” as it violates press freedom.

The NUJP urged the authors to withdraw the measure.

The PCP said the 1987 Philippine Constitution already guarantees the right to privacy. (bulatlat.com)

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