SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan seeks tighter controls against fake food orders, fake jobs, and other forms of disinformation that affect regular folk.
At the second Senate public hearing reviewing Philippine criminal laws on the advent of fake news in social media platforms, Pangilinan listed various instances when digital technology has been used to scam ordinary Filipinos from thousands to millions of pesos by local and international scammers.
“Fake job offers as well online through SMS and our telcos. Last month, several Filipinos received via text fake job offers offering high salaries. Some even purport to be from large companies,” he said.
Pangilinan noted that the National Privacy Commission said that the scam was orchestrated by international syndicates and there is no evidence that the phone numbers were obtained through contact tracing forms.
Early this month, he narrated that some BDO account holders reported that their bank accounts were debited P25,000 to P50,000 without their consent. BDO said that they will reimburse the money unlawfully debited to the accounts.
“Clearly, all these incidents point to the need for interventions whether through legislation or tighter controls by telcos or corporations involved in digital technology,” he said.
To reduce, if not eliminate, online hate speech and disinformation, former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio proposes to amend existing laws to make social media platforms more accountable.
He said online platforms, not the libeled public official, should assume the burden of proving malice.
The former Supreme Court justice also proposes to treble libel damages while decriminalizing it. He recommends that platforms disclose the real identities and the country of residence or address of the offending party.
“I propose that existing law be amended so that malice is presumed on the part of the online publishers if they allow fake or fictitious users to post on their platforms libelous comments against public officials or public figures,” Carpio said.
He explained that in the Philippines, “public officials or public figures libeled online by fake or fictitious persons can, of course, sue the online platform as publisher. However, these public officials or public figures do not usually file libel cases because they have to overcome the presumption of good faith.”
“The burden of proving malice is on the libeled public officials or public figures. The law must be amended so that malice is presumed on the part of the publisher if the libelous comment is made by a fake or fictitious person. But until the law is amended, online platforms operating in the Philippines are not bothered by libel suits for comments posted by their fake, fictitious users,” he added.
The Senate committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, also subpoenaed Shopee, Lazada, and Media Specialists Association of the Philippines to explain their absence in the hearing and to attend the next hearing or face contempt.
“These companies should realize how crucial their presence in this hearing is so they can shed light on the various scams using their app and platforms that are victimizing thousands of Filipinos,” Pangilinan said.
“We cannot ignore these scams to go on duping people without exacting responsibility from the owners and operators of the platforms and apps,” he added.
The hearing is on proposed Senate Resolution No. 953, calling for a review of the country’s existing criminal laws to consider the rise of social media platforms and the rapid advancement of technology will resume in mid-January 2022.