DOJ asks NBI to set up system to monitor spread of false information online

DOJ asks NBI to set up system to monitor spread of false information online

The Department of Justice asked the National Bureau of Investigation to set up system to monitor the spread of false and malicious information on social media.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday that the department asked the NBI “to establish a system of monitoring the spread of false and malicious information in social media.”

The bureau is also ordered to establish the source and determine if there is a pattern or scheme, and take appropriate action to preserve evidence for potential prosecution.

This comes a day after Vice President Leni Robredo again was subjected into a fake news social media post that claimed her office sent spoiled food to a Quezon City hospital and her spokesperson paid the hospital staff to not speak about it.

Robredo and Diliman Doctors Hospital denied the incident.

Robredo asked other social media users to take screenshots of fake news posts on Facebook and Twitter “because we will go after them.”

Guevarra said that Robredo or her office has not reached out to the DOJ on potential filing of complaint, “but we’ll be ready to help should the VP wish to pursue the matter.”

Fake news on social media

Back in February, Guevarra said he directed the NBI to conduct a case build up against unnamed people “on the alleged deliberate spread of misinformation and fake news about… and false reporting of the [COVID-19].”

The directive was meant to avoid “causing undue panic and alarm.”

This was the DOJ order that led to the NBI summoning dozens of social media users, including a Facebook user who commented on the government purchase of a P2-billion private jet.

When NBI summoned the social media user early April, the bureau indicated that the person is being investigated on a possible violation of the Revised Penal Code, which explains “unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances.”

It remains unclear whether the decades-old rule applies on social media posts.

The Bayanihan Act contains a provision on penalizing those who spread “false information” on social media regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

It is yet to be known whether the Bayanihan Act is still in effect, as the Constitution holds that “in times of war or national emergency,” lawmakers may grant powers to the president “which shall cease upon the next adjournment of Congress.” The Congress’ first regular session ended on June 5.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque previously told Philstar.com that the government adheres “to the view that the sunset clause prevails” on the Bayanihan Act. This means that the measure “shall be in full force and effect only for three months, unless extended by Congress,” and would be effective until June 25.

Guevarra has also not indicated the potential offenses that may be filed against individuals who may be found spreading malicious social media posts.

Calls for decriminalization of cyber libel again rang following the conviction of veteran journalist Maria Ressa on the charge.— Source:

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com)

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