Senator pushes to criminalize ‘fake news’ to stop its spread

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — A senator on Thursday said he has filed a bill that seeks to criminalize “fake news” to stop its proliferation.

“Click baits, propaganda, and manipulation of legitimate news segments to deliberately online falsehoods, false news or disinformation are so common nowadays, making it difficult to distinguish which is actual news to fake ones. Masyado ng talamak ang mga ito [This is too widespread already],” Senator Jinggoy Estrada said in a statement.

Under Estrada’s Senate Bill 1296, fake news is defined as “misinformation and disinformation of stories, facts and news which is presented as a fact, the veracity of which cannot be confirmed, with the purpose of distorting the truth and misleading its audience.”

His proposed legislation seeks to criminalize fake news as a cybercrime by amending Section 3 of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act by adding it in the definition of terms and including it in the list of cybercrime offenses in Section 4.

As stated under the law, those who commit cybercrime offenses can be punished with at least six years imprisonment or fined a minimum of ₱200,000.

Over at the Lower House, An Waray partylist Rep. Florencio Noel and Malabon Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel also filed a bill that seeks to criminalize the creation and dissemination of false information.

READ: House bill seeks to criminalize creating, spreading ‘fake news’

The lawmakers cited the results of a Social Weather Stations survey which revealed that more than half of Filipinos find it difficult to identify if a piece of news or information from the television, radio, or social media is fake or real.

It also showed that about seven out of 10 Filipinos believe that the problem of fake news in media is serious.