‘Anti-Selfie’ Bill raises concerns for press freedom in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is urging the withdrawal of the House Bill 4807, also known as “An Act to Provide Protection From Personal Intrusion for Commercial Purposes”.

The bill, which the NUJP said poses a real threat to freedom of press, as well as the right to free expression, aims to “curbs acts of trespassing and other intrusions on personal privacy committed by any person in order to capture visual or sound impressions of an individual, with intent to gain or profit”.

The bill has received widespread criticism, with activist legislator Carlos Isagani Zarante referring to it as an ‘anti-selfie’ bill because under the bill any selfie with someone caught in the background would be liable for intrusion of privacy.

NUJP Chairperson, Rowena Paraan, said: “In an era where technology is quickly breaking down the obstacles that hamper the flow of information and expressions, 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 as well as the impact on simply taking videos and pictures for pleasure, there is strong potential for journalists to be subjected to harassment while reporting, as under the bill only official law enforcement activities are exempt.

 “We agree that people are entitled to privacy and, in fact, the Constitution guarantees as much, in all matters that are personal and have nothing to do with public interest,” the NUJP said. “But the measure’s intent is so broad it is likely to be used as another weapon for the criminal and the corrupt to escape accountability should it become law.”

IFJ Asia Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington said “The impact that the so-dubbed anti-selfie bill will have on media freedom and expression in the Philippines is evident. Not only does the law have implications for media institutions and journalists, but the impacts will be felt across the country and hinder the growth of citizen journalism, which has an integral role in future media environments.”

The IFJ joins the NUJP in calling on the authors of the bill to withdraw the measure and the members of the House of Representatives to vote against the bill should it not be withdrawn. 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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