Why bill against taking photos draws flak

Posted at 08/29/14 7:57 AM


MANILA -- Photojournalists on Thursday expressed apprehension over a proposed law that aims to prevent taking photos of people in public without their consent.

House Bill 4807 or the Protection against Personal Intrusion Act is now up for 3rd reading in plenary.

It defines "intrusion of personal privacy" as "any person who willfully intrudes into the personal privacy of another, without the consent of that person and with the intent to gain or profit therefrom, shall be civilly liable to the offended party."

Mike Alquinto, Photojournalists' Center of the Philippines (PCP) chairman, said the phrase "intent to gain or profit" should be clearly defined because media outfits "are basically for profit organizations."

"There must be clear provisions that specify that news gathering must be exempted from this section," Alquinto said.

Aquinto said the provisions of the proposed measure should not apply to news gathering, adding that "provisions of the law can be used to target enterprising journalists."

"Our apprehension is based on the premise that the act being made punishable by this proposed measure is not clearly defined to the point that other acts can be considered unlawful by virtue of the statute," Alquinto said.

He said the proposed measure can become a tool for "unwilling public figures" to suppress press freedom.

"We maintain that the Philippine Constitution already guarantees the right to privacy. A person can claim protection even without this proposed law. Jurisprudence has settled that there are exceptions to the right to privacy which exceptions are not specified in this bill," Alquinto said.

According to HB 4807, the following acts are considered an intrusion into the personal privacy of another and shall be presumed to have been committed with the intent to gain or profit.

- capturing by a camera or sound recording instrument of any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of the person

- trespassing on private property in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of any person

- capturing any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person or family activity through the use of a visual or auditory enhancement device even when no physical trespass has occurred, when the visual image, sound recording or other physical impression could not have been captured without a trespass if no enhancement device was used.

Section 4 of the bill says any person whose personal privacy was intruded as defined may in a civil action against the person who committed the intrusion, obtain any appropriate relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive and declaratory relief.