I have been a member of an exclusive gym for a long time. One day, as I was taking a shower inside a cubicle in the male shower room, I noticed a hand holding a cellphone on top of the cubicle wall with its camera directed toward my soap-covered body. I was angered at this invasion of my privacy, and I chased after the person who took my picture while I was showering. As soon as security personnel apprehended the culprit (also a member of the gym), I immediately confronted the guy and found out, after rummaging through his cellphone, that he had been dared by his friends to take nude pictures of me that, he said, he had just sent to them. I am afraid that the “scandal” will spread. Is there anything I can file against the culprit?
Based on your narration, you may press criminal charges against the culprit for violations of Republic Act (RA) 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009. This law not only expressly prohibits the taking of a photo or video to capture an image of one’s private area under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy but also the reproduction, distribution and publication of the same photo or video, to wit:
“Section 4. Prohibited Acts. – It is hereby prohibited and declared unlawful for any person:
(a) To take photo or video coverage of a person or group of persons performing sexual act or any similar activity or to capture an image of the private area of a person/s such as the naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breasIs without the consent of the person/s involved and under circumstances in which the person/s has/have a reasonable expectation of privacy;
(b) To copy or reproduce, or to cause to be copied or reproduced, such photo or video or recording of sexual act or any similar activity with or without consideration;
(c) To sell or distribute, or cause to be sold or distributed, such photo or video or recording of sexual act, whether it be the original copy or reproduction thereof; or
(d) To publish or broadcast, or cause to be published or broadcast, whether in print or broadcast media, or show or exhibit the photo or video coverage or recordings of such sexual act or any similar activity through VCD/DVD, Internet, cellular phones and other similar means or device.”
In your case, you were showering in your own cubicle inside the male shower room where you had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Clearly, the act of taking your video while being naked in the shower without your consent constitutes a criminal act. In addition, the act of reproducing, distributing and/or publishing the same (as shown in Section 4 (b), (c) and (d) above) constitutes another criminal act of the culprit.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on this matter, but we reiterate that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when facts are changed or further elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com.