MANILA – Cyber-bullying may soon be regarded as a crime after a solon had filed House Bill 5718, or the “Anti Cyber-Bullying Act of 2015,” a bill penalizing acts of posting rude, offensive, or insulting messages online.
“Cyber-bullying is one such problem that the advancement in technology and social media has generated. It can potentially affect not only school-aged children, but also any individual who has access to a mobile phone or the internet,” the bill’s author, Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr. said.
“By penalizing acts of cyber-bullying, people are encouraged to become responsible netizens and make them accountable for their cyber-actions,” Andaya added.
The bill defined cyber-bullying as ‘acts of cruelty committed using the Internet or any form of electronic media or technology that has the effect of stripping one’s dignity or causing reasonable fear or physical or emotional harm.’
The offensive acts were enumerated as the following:
a) Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and insulting message;
b) Distributing derogatory information about the victim;
c) Posting or sending offensive photos of the victim, whether these are digitally altered or not, or were taken with or without consent, with the intention to humiliate and embarrass the victim;
d) Breaking into an email, social networking or any electronic account and using the victim’s virtual identity to send, upload or distribute embarrassing materials to or about others;
e) Sharing the victim’s personal information or any embarrassing information, or tricking the victim into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sharing it to others; and
f) Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or engaging in online activities that cause fear on the victim’s safety.
As stated in the proposed bill, cyber-bullies will be fined from P50,000 to P100,000 or imprisoned for six months to six years, or both, depending on the acts committed.
“The onset of the Internet has shattered world barriers empowering users with immense information and allowed them to be socially connected to virtually anybody around the globe in the comfort of their own homes,” Andaya said.
“Because of the anonymity that the Internet gives, social and moral norms are easily switched off and users are emboldened to just say or post anything online without accountability,” he added.
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were the agencies tagged to formulate the bill’s rules and regulations.