Why journalists oppose 'anti-selfie' House bill

Posted at 08/29/2014 10:43 PM | Updated as of 08/30/2014 3:03 AM


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MANILA -- Journalists on Friday urged the authors of House Bill 4807, or the so-called "anti-selfie" bill, to withdraw it

They said it threatens not only journalists, but all Filipinos.

The National union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement, also asked the members of the House of Representatives to vote down HB 4807, if its authors fail to withdraw it.

The NUJP said while the bill "may have been filed with all the best intentions in mind," it poses an "all too real threat not only to freedom of the press, but on the very right to free expression."

The group also considers the bill's aim as too broad, making it easier to be used as a tool for nefarious purposes.

"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 the public interest. 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," the group said in a statement.

The NUJP also said that the bill would punish people even if "no visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person was actually sold for gain or profit."

"We are sure that the authors of the bill know only too well that media outfits are essentially 'for profit' enterprises. But the institutional media aside, the measure could end up stifling citizen journalism and even simply taking pictures or videos for personal pleasure," it said.

"In an era where technology is quickly breaking down the obstacles that hamper the flow of information and expression, 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."

NUJP also questioned the bill's swift movement in Congress, without as much as a discussion of its implications.

"While at it, we are equally disturbed at how the bill has swiftly made its way through the legislative mill to be approved on second reading without any of the sectors its passage would impact on informed about it, much less invited to discuss its implications."

"The authors of the bill and the House of Representatives as a whole would do the nation a truly great service to the nation and the Filipino people by discarding this and any similar legislation and instead pouring their energies into passing and enacting the Freedom of Information bill."