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Congress to criminalize illegal TV cable, Internet connection

The House Committee on Information Communications Technology has approved for plenary deliberation a bill imposing stiffer penalties against pilferage, theft, and unauthorized use of cable television and Internet connections.

The bill penalizes individuals culpable of the crime of illegal interception of cable television systems or networks with imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000 or both.

Under the bill otherwise known as “The Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Pilferage Act," the cable television (CATV) industry and the legitimate cable subscribers shall be protected from unauthorized connection or tapping to existing facilities through wire or electromagnetic means.

Cagayan de Oro City representative Rufus Rodriguez, who authored House Bill 709 together with his brother and Abante Mindanao party-list representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr., said the intent of the measure is to protect the industry and promote its growth in order to assure high-quality service to the viewing public.

“In this electronic age, the most popular media of communication that are affordable but highly informative that reach the great many regardless of status in life are cable television and Internet," Rodriguez said.

“Unfortunately, providers of CATV and Internets are threatened by high incidence of theft through unauthorized interception of CATV programming or internet services. This has become a very serious issue that cable television and internet providers face today," Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez said cable television and Internet must survive and remain competitive to provide affordable and fast media and communication services to their subscribers.

Sorsogon representative Salvador Escudero, also an author of the bill, said the measure seeks to give protection to legitimate operators of cable television (CATV) systems or networks and cable Internet services by ensuring that access to such systems, networks, and services will be limited only to their duly authorized or registered subscribers.

“It is meant to address the growing problem of signal or service theft of cable television and cable internet providers which has greatly prejudiced the development and improvement of their business," Escudero said.

Escudero said the measure intends to safeguard the general public as well by improving quality and secured service and signal as authorized or registered users and concomitantly to discourage, if not eliminate, pilferage of such service and signal through the use of penal sanctions.

It is prohibited under the act the interception or reception of any signal or service offered over CATV and cable Internet systems through unauthorized connection to existing CATVs facilities and the introduction of unauthorized importation, sale, lease, distribution or possession of electronic equipment that allow for unauthorized access or decoding of unencrypted or encrypted satellite program signals or other electromagnetic signals.

The bill also calls to penalize the wanton, malicious, or willful destruction or removal of CATV and cable Internet facilities and accessories of authorized CATV and cable Internet service operators resulting into system disruption or network degradation. -

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