“At the onset, HB 4807 will create a chilling effect on media and would especially affect citizen journalism particularly those who are trying to expose graft and corruption in government.” – Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A harmless selfie or photobomb can now make a person liable in a civil suit.
This was pointed out by Makabayan legislators during the deliberations on House Bill 4807, which was passed on second reading at the House of Representatives.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said that HB 4807 would affect everyone with a cellular phone camera or any recording device because its provisions are “so broad” that it would cover even those innocently taking “selfies” or “groupies.”
Zarate said, “As it is even an innocuous selfie with public figures inadvertently caught at the background would be liable for ‘intrusion of privacy’. This is absurd and we urge our colleagues to reconsider.”
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon also assailed the bill, saying it also enables a person who finds himself or herself included accidentally in a group photo posted on Facebook to file civil action suits against the person who took the photo.
Ridon said the bill “has no place in a technologically-savvy society that has adopted the culture of sharing in their everyday life.”
According to HB 4807, the following acts are considered an intrusion into the personal privacy of another and shall be presumed to have been committed with the intent to gain or profit:
– 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.
Section 4 of the bill states that any person whose personal privacy was intruded as defined may in a civil action against the person who committed the intrusion, obtain any appropriate relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive and declaratory relief.
The bill further states that any person obtaining relief may be either the person whose visual or auditory impression has been captured or the owner of the private property trespassed to capture the visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of another.
The bill 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 or proceeding for the enforcement of the provisions of this act.
The only exemption from this act is legitimate law enforcement activities.
Zarate said the bill would affect both the media and the ordinary citizens.
He added that the title of the bill “Protection against Personal Intrusion Act” is misleading and “cannot hide its serious implications on freedom of expression and press freedom.”
“At the onset, HB 4807 will create a chilling effect on media and would especially affect citizen journalism particularly those who are trying to expose graft and corruption in government,” Zarate said.
In the same vein, Ridon said the bill infringes upon the freedom of the press, as many politicians and government officials may abuse the law to file cases against photographers using a photo as sole basis.
“This bill should remain a scrap of paper. Even if the majority insists on passing the bill, I am sure it will just be declared unconstitutional once questioned in the Supreme Court,” Ridon, also a lawyer, said.