Enough is enough! These lawmakers want to make spread of fake news a crime

Amid the alleged proliferation of paid trolls who spread disinformation and misinformation, two lawmakers have moved to criminalize peddlers and creators of fake news.

Malabon City lone district Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel and An Waray Party-list Rep. Florencio Noel filed House Bill (HB) 2971, otherwise known as “An Act criminalizing the creation and dissemination of ‘fake news', amending for the purpose Sections 3 and 4 of Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.”

The authors, in their bill, want to amend the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to include a provision defining fake news 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".

Should the bill get enacted, RA 10175 would then consider fake news as a content-related offense, rendering the act as punishable by law.

“It cannot be stressed enough that nowadays, people have been repeatedly misinformed about what they consider to be data and facts through the advent of ‘fake news'. Not even credible sources like media outlets and broadcast stations were spared of the false information spread out by paid trolls to distort truth and deliberately mislead people to think the opposite of what is actually happening,” the lawmakers wrote in their explanatory note.

They further cited Professor Clarissa David of the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (UP) in their working definitions of “misinformation” and “disinformation".

“Misinformation is false information which is unintentionally disseminated on online platforms with no propaganda while disinformation is orchestrated for political ends,” the solons wrote.