News articles label a proposed law as “anti-selfie” bill. The label, however, is not accurate. The proposal currently pending at the House of Representatives does not prohibit selfies per se — it declares illegal the act of taking photos, among others, of other people for commercial purposes. But it can seriously collide with ubiquitous recording technology and can adversely affect growing sectors like citizen journalism, blogging and online social networks. It is, therefore, important to understand what others call the “anti-selfie” bill and what it seeks to prevent. Read the full text below and help us discuss the pros and cons of this proposed law (use the comment section below).
The proposed measure is contained in House Bill 4807, also known as the Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act, which seeks to “promote and protect the personal privacy of every person by preventing intrusion for commercial purposes, and enjoining everyone to respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of every person.” In a nutshell, as summarized by a House press release, “under the measure, it is unlawful to capture, or to trespass on private property in order to capture, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of any individual, personal or family activity for commercial purposes and even if no physical trespass has occurred. The measure also allows the person whose visual image or auditory impression has been captured to file a civil action or proceeding to obtain any appropriate relief including compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive of declaratory relief.”
The text of House Bill 4807 has not been uploaded. To get a snapshot of this bill at this point, it would be helpful to refer to the proposed law which it substituted, House Bill 3548. Here’s the full text and the explanatory note:
House Bill No. 3548
Section 5 of Article 2 of the Constitution provides that, “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, and the promotion of general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”
The privacy of individuals and their families have been violated by photographers, videographers and audio recorders who physically trespass in order to capture images or other reproductions of their private lives for commercial purposes, or who do so constructively through intrusive modern visual or auditory enhancement devices, such as powerful telephoto lenses and hyperbolic microphones that enable invasion of private areas that would otherwise be impossible without trespassing.
Such harassment and trespass threatens not only public persons and their families but also private persons and their families for whom personal tragedies or circumstances beyond their control create media interest.
This bill seeks to provide protection from personal intrusion for commercial purposes to protect individuals and their families against intrusions on their privacy due to activities undertaken in connection with the reproduction and broadcast of their private activities.
Immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
House Bill No. 3548
AN ACT TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FROM PERSONAL INTRUSION FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES
SECTION 1. Short Title. — This Act shall be known as the “Personal Privacy Protection Act.”
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby the policy of the State to adopt measures that would effectively promote the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, and the promotion of the general welfare which are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy in a just and humane society.
SEC. 3. Definition of Term. — For purposes of this Act, the term “for commercial purposes” shall mean with the expectation of sale, financial gain or other consideration.
SEC. 4. Rule of Construction. — For purposes of this Act, a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression shall not be found to have been, or intended to have been, captured for commercial purposes unless it was intended to be, or was in fact, sold, published or transmitted in Philippine or foreign commerce, or unless the person attempting to capture such image, recording, or impression moved in Philippine or foreign commerce in order to capture such image, recording, or impression.
SEC. 5. Trespass for Commercial Purposes; Invasion of Legitimate Interest in Privacy for Commercial Purposes. —
(1) Trespass for Commercial Purposes — It shall be unlawful to trespass on private property in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of any person for commercial purposes;
(2) Invasion of Legitimate Interest in Privacy for Commercial Purposes — It shall be unlawful to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression for commercial purposes of a personal or family activity through the use of a visual or auditory enhancement device, even if no physical trespass has occurred if:
a. the subject of the image, sound recording, or other physical impression has a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the personal or family activity captured; and,
b. the image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been captured without a trespass if not produced by the use of the enhancement device.
SEC. 6. Cause of Action. — Any person who is legally present in the Philippines who is subject to a violation of this Act may, in a civil action against the person engaging in the violation, obtain any appropriate relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief. A person obtaining relief may be either or both the owner of the property or the person whose visual or auditory impression has been captured. In any civil action or proceeding to enforce a provision of this Act, the court shall allow the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees as part of the costs. In awarding attorney’s fees, the court shall include expert fees as part of the attorney’s fees.
SEC. 7. Limitation on Defense. — It is not a defense to an action under this Section that:
(1) no image or recording was captured; or
(2) no image or recording was sold.
SEC. 8. Use of Images. — Nothing in this Act may be construed to make the sale, transmission, publication, broadcast, or use or any image or recording of the type or under the circumstances described herein in any otherwise lawful manner by any person subject to criminal charge or civil liability.
SEC. 9. Limitation. — Only a person physically present at the time of, and engaging or assisting another in engaging in a violation of this Act is subject to civil liability under this Act. A person shall not be subject to such liability by reason of the conduct of an agent, employee, or contractor of that person, or because images or recordings captured in violation of this Act were solicited, bought, used, or sold by that person.
SEC. 10. Law Enforcement Exemption. — The prohibitions of this Act do not apply with respect to official law enforcement activities.
SEC. 11. Repealing Clause. — Any Law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.
SEC. 12. Separability Clause. — If any provision or part hereof, is invalid or unconstitutional, the remainder of the law or the provision not otherwise affected shall remain valid and subsisting.
SEC. 13. Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.