The e-violence bill: adding digital protection

MANILA, Philippines - Sen Nancy Binay filed the Electronic Violence Against Women (E-VAW) bill on July 3, prompting some on social media to ask about the bill's contents, as well as what the E-VAW bill means for Filipinos.

Rappler recently got a copy of the E-VAW bill, and here are the bill's important points, as well as what it will mean for Filipinos if it gets passed.

In the E-VAW bill's explanatory note, Sen Binay looks to Republic Act No. 9262, or the Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (VAWC Law), as the foundation of her bill. E-VAW seeks to add additional protection for women and children who are receiving abusive conduct and violence online from people they have a personal relationship with, such as a boyfriend or ex-spouse.

The bill itself seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9262 in a number of ways, but there are two additions that will be important for everyone to know.

1. E-VAW introduces a definition of electronic violence. Performing acts of electronic violence or threatening to cause it would get people in trouble, based on Binay's bill.

2. E-VAW also amends R.A. 9262 to include a means to file and get E-protection orders (EPOs) to augment other types of protection orders.

In the first case, electronic violence is when someone uses data or information and communications technology (ICT) to cause mental, emotional, or psychological distress to someone.

This includes recording or distributing videos of a "victim's private area or the victim's naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks or breasts," and uploading or sharing media of a victim that have "lewd, indecent, obscene or sexual content."

It also includes online harassment, cyber-stalking, hacking someone else's online accounts, or tracking someone's electronic devices, as well as misrepresenting one's self to make someone else look bad or hurt their reputation.

Penalties for electronic violence would include jail time, a hefty fine, and counseling or psychiatric treatment, based on the bill.

In the case of the second major amendment to R.A. 9262, think of it as a digital restraining order. EPOs would order "the immediate blocking, blacklisting, removal or shut down of any upload, program or application that causes or tends to cause violence against the victim."

To improve the implementation of these amendments, the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children (IAC-VAWC) would now also include the Department of Science of Technology (DOST), according to the Binay bill.

- Rappler.com