A technical working group (TWG) was recently formed by the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology. The TWG is tasked to merge the measures seeking to regulate the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram among others.
House Bills for Regulating Social Media
The panel who chaired by Tarlac Rep. Victor Yap sought to consolidate House Bills 4093, and House Bill 5021, authored by Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, respectively. Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., the author of HB 4093, said his bill calls for a mandatory authentication process for all social media and other similar online accounts.
It aims to ensure accountability on the part of the social media account owner,” said Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.
House Bill 4093 seeks the registration of online and social media accounts using any valid government-issued identification and/or barangay certificates.
It aims to address cyberbullying, harassment, online scam, libel, and even illicit drug trade and prostitution by holding individuals, private and public entities accountable for their online interactions,” Teves said.
To verify identities, online social networking services will be obliged to require their users, whether resident or non-resident, to supply and link their accounts to the valid identification numbers provided by the government,” he continued.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) rallied behind the regulation of the use of social media in the country.
During a hearing, the Philippine National Police Director for ICT Management Cesar Hawthorne Binag welcomed the measure, stating that it will help prevent cyber crimes which are difficult to address because the perpetrators cannot be easily identified. However, representatives of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) expressed concern over possible violation of the account users’ privacy rights.
In filing the House Bill 5021 or the proposed Social Media Regulation Act, Alvarez said it is time to curtail the abuse and misuse of social media and slap penalties against online identity theft.
House Bill 5021 mandates social media companies to verify the user applicants before they are allowed to open an account.
Violators shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than six years and one day up to 12 years and a fine ranging from Php 30,000 to Php 50,000. Any person who owns or has control over artificial intelligence programs or similar programs that create social media user accounts that results in the irresponsible use of social media shall hold liable.