By Charissa Luci
Alarmed by the prevalence of fake, malicious and spurious social media accounts, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants to regulate the use of social media by mandating social media companies to verify the user applicants before they are allowed to open an account.
The House chief said it is about time to curtail the abuse and misuse of social media and impose penalties against the online identity theft.
“In many occasions, users use fake accounts by presenting themselves to the online world as persons whom they are not. This is a classic case of identity theft that is detrimental to society,” he said in filing House Bill 5021.
HB 5021 or the proposed Social Media Regulation Act of 2017, provides that applicants for social media accounts be subjected by social media networks to effective identity verification in order to ascertain the authentic of an account. The applications of those found out as presenting himself as another person whom he is not shall be denied and the user accounts of other persons the authenticity of which are subsequently discovered as compromised shall be shutdown.
“This proposed bill seeks to afford a remedial measures on the foregoing matters and will regulate these social media by mandating social media companies (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) to reasonably verify the identity of user applicants before they are allowed to open an account. Penalties are also provided for failure to comply with this verification requirement,” Alvarez said.
Violators of the proposed Act shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than six years and one day up to 12 years and a fine ranging from P30,000 to P50,000. Any person who owns or has control over artificial intelligence programs or similar programs that create social media user accounts that results in the irresponsible use of social media shall held liable.
Under the bill, every person who will communicate, exchange, deliver, blog or share information through social media must observe a responsible and fair exercise of his right to free expression and opinion. He is, however, prohibited from opening an account for his online presence using someone else’s identity and presenting himself to the online world as that person whom he is not.
Alvarez also filed House Resolution 777 calling for an investigation on the failure of various social media networks to provide effective method or system to ascertain the authenticity of accounts registered with them, leading to a prevalence of fake, malicious and spurious social media accounts, which results to unchecked and rampant acts of online identity theft.