Privacy and sexting: When photos, messages from FB Messenger are admissible as evidence

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2022 07:48 AM

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Note to Facebook users: You can't automatically invoke invasion of privacy in FB messages if you're violating the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

This is the new ruling of the Supreme Court after it sustained the conviction of a petitioner, Christian Cadajas, for violation of the Anti-Child Pornography Act through the new ruling.

Atty. Soledad Deriquito-Mawis, dean of the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, said Cadajas, then 24, started a romantic relationship with a 14-year-old girl in 2016, asking the girl to send him photos of her private parts. 

The girl's mother, however, discovered the photos after the girl forgot to log out of her account. 

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that the Bill of Rights under the Constitution, which includes the right to privacy, "was intended to protect citizens from government intrusions, the right to privacy and its consequent effects on the rules on admissibility of evidence cannot be invoked against private individuals."

However, police did not hack Cadajas' account to access the FB thread since the girl already had access to the photos. The SC decision noted that Cadajas also provided the password to his Facebook Messenger account.

"By giving AAA the password to his Facebook Messenger account, the petitioner lost a reasonable expectation of privacy over the contents of his account," it ruled. 

Mawis noted that Supreme Court ruled that Data Privacy Act restrictions do not apply to Cadejas since it grants the "processing of personal information related to the determination of criminal liability of a data subject."

"In the petitioner's case, it was established that he had intended to induce AAA, a minor, to exhibit AAA's private parts, since it was petitioner's prodding that led AAA to take and share the intimate photos," the SC decision read.

"Acquitted yung akusado sa child abuse pero sa cybercrime, convicted ho siya. In fact, mere possession of lascivious pictures is already a crime by itself. Hindi kailangang ibenta. Yung meron kang pictures ng menor de edad [na nakahubad], ang tawag diyan child pornography," Mawis said. 

"Bawal na bawal ho yung meron kayong malalaswang pictures ng mga bata dahil by itself, possession, crime na ho iyan."