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In the Philippines, using your smartphone in the bank could land you in jail

There could be bad news on the horizon for smartphone obsessives living in the Philippines. A new law is being proposed which would make it illegal to use a phone inside a bank, and it will apply to both staff and customers. Named the Cell Phone in Banks Prohibition Act of 2014, the idea is apparently to stamp out criminal activities, although the exact nature of the crimes supposedly being committed on a phone inside the bank isn’t explained.

What happens if you’re caught? If you’re a customer, then a fine of about $23 will come your way. Still think going for a record on Candy Crush Saga while you stand in line is worth it? Maybe not. There’s the strong possibility of a trip to the police station to be detained, if you’re particularly naughty.

It’s worse for staff. The fine will be at least $46, and there’s a chance you’ll be suspended. The bill states that any staff member seen using a phone inside the bank during working hours must be reported, and “appropriate action” will be taken by the management. The only time you’ll be safe is at lunch time, provided no-one can see you.

According to the politician behind the bill, the use of “modern technology for criminal activities” is a, “real emerging security threat.” It’s so serious, that he’s not only gunning for smartphones, and the law also prohibits laptops, palmtops, and radio transmitters from being used in a bank.

It appears banks in the Philippines have frowned upon people using phones on the premises for a while, but this is the first time a law has been put forward to make their use illegal. According to this editorial published late last year, a local lawyer called using his phone anywhere he pleased a “constitutional right,” and complained that banks shouldn’t be dictating regulations or laws.

The bill has been proposed, but has yet to be approved.