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Senate panel wants to make cyberstalking a punishable crime

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Senate panel wants to make cyberstalking a punishable crime Empty Senate panel wants to make cyberstalking a punishable crime

Post by Justin_Romile on Sat May 28, 2011 11:04 am

Stalking someone on the Internet may soon be a crime.

At the Senate on Monday, Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the committee on justice, said they will include cyberstalking in the forms of stalking that will be punishable under a proposed law pending before the chamber.

Escudero admitted that so far, only physical stalking is covered by the approved versions of the anti-stalking bill.

“It is new to us at isasama namin don sa panukalang batas given present technology para yung mga nangungulit at yung nag-i-stalk ikanga using the Internet ay masaklaw na rin ng batas," he told reporters in an interview.

(Cyberstalking is new to us, and we will include it in the proposed measure so that those who stalk people using the Internet will be covered by the law.)

Aside from stalking via e-mail, online messaging, and social networking sites, Escudero said during Tuesday’s justice committee hearing that he also wants cyberstalking to cover the creation of websites dedicated to the person being stalked, especially if his or her pictures and whereabouts are being posted there.

During the same hearing, Joaquin Parcero of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said the NBI receives around 2,000 complaints of cyberstalking every month.

Bills on stalking

Under the pending proposals on stalking — Senate Bill 1778 by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and 2442 by Senator Manuel Villar — a person commits stalking when he or she harasses another by:

making repeated communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language;

making repeated visits to the victim’s home or workplace;

following or repeatedly maintaining visual or physical proximity to victim in or about a public place or places; and

engaging in any other course of alarming conduct.

Under the measure, any person who commits any of these acts shall be punished by arresto mayor in its maximum period (imprisonment from four to six months) to prision correccional in its minimum period (imprisonment from six months to two years and four months) or a fine ranging from P1,000 to P5,000.

Existing laws

Article 26 of the Civil Code says that “every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons."

Included in the acts that supposedly violate these rights are:

prying into the privacy of another’s residence;

meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;

intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends; and

vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in
life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition.

The Code, however, says that although they may be venues for relief or damages, the acts do not constitute a criminal offense.

Santiago, meanwhile, has separately filed a bill which would prohibit “cyber bullying", or bullying done through electronic devices by means of texting, instant messaging, chatting, and the use of social networking websites. - KBK, GMA News

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