MANILA, Philippines – The bill that would protect women and children from all forms of electronic violence moved one step closer to being passed in the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, January 28, lawmakers approved on 2nd reading House Bill (HB) No. 5869, which expands the coverage of Republic Act (RA) No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, through viva voce voting or oral voting.
This means the bill will only have to go through a 3rd and final reading before successfully hurdling the House.
If passed into law, HB 5869 would define electronic violence or ICT (information communications technology)-related violence as any act that involves the “use or exploitation of data or any form of information and communications technology which causes or is likely to cause mental, emotional, or psychological distress or suffering to the woman and her children.”
The bill provides an expansive list of prohibited forms of electronic violence, from the unauthorized sharing of lewd videos, to the creation of fake social media accounts aimed with “ill-intent or malice” against women and children. (READ: Boys will be boys: Locker room talk and online harassment)
But several of these provisions have already been criminalized under the Safe Spaces Act or RA 11313, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law in April 2019.
What are the main provisions? HB 5869 considers as electronic abuse the unauthorized recording, sharing, and uploading of photos, videos, audio, and other forms of electronic or artistic presentation depicting the following:
The bill also counts as emotional abuse use of text messages and other forms of cyber communication to harass, intimidate, coerce, threaten or vilify women and children.
Those who would resort to online stalking, including the hacking of personal social media accounts and using location data from electronic devices, would also be penalized under the bill.
HB 5869 would consider spreading fake information about women and children using electronic devices and creating fake social media accounts to “sow intrigue or inflict harm” as electronic violence punishable by law. (READ: Fake news, real women: Disinformation gone macho)
What would be the punishment? Violators of HB 5869 stand to face jail time from a minimum of 6 years and one day up to 12 years.
Perpetrators of electronic abuse against women and children would also be required to pay a minimum fine worth P300,000 up to P500,000. They may also be subjected to undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment.
Who authored the bill? The following lawmakers are co-authors of HB 5869: