By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Coming on the heels of a surge in citizen complaints of alleged privacy harassments from online lenders, more than 2,000 Data Protection Officers (DPO) from major government offices and leading businesses today joined the National Privacy Commission’s (NPC) call to form a united front to strengthen the protection of peoples’ personal data.
“Our common goal of ensuring data privacy in today’s radically changing technology landscape can only be won as a community, where the government and businesses align resources to safeguard the data subject’s interests,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said in his opening remarks during the second annual National Data Privacy Conference (NDPC) at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Serving as the NPC’s flagship event to launch this year’s Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) celebrations, the NDCP harps on the theme “Datos ng Pilipino, Protektado ko!” (Protecting the Digital Filipino: Accountability, Compliance & Ethics in a Data-Driven Philippines), which is an appeal to institutions and individuals who process personal information to fully embrace their accountability, aim for maximized compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012, and observe high ethical standards.
In response to this appeal, executives from various government agencies (Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Justice, and the Philippine National Police) during the NDPC has symbolically pledged their support for the NPC’s covenant of unity for the protection of the digital Filipino. They were joined by Laban Konsyumer, an advocacy group assisting consumers on protection against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable acts and practices.
The covenant is calling for a unified front towards safeguarding the modern Filipino’s right to prosper, protecting their personal data, and promoting their basic rights – all while equipping the public with the knowledge that would enable them to defend themselves against fraudsters and other data privacy violators. Altogether, these are envisioned to culminate in a peaceful, secure, and technologically-aware Philippines.
“Upholding the right to data privacy is everybody’s business because ultimately every potential harm to the data subject also puts at risk our commercial and societal interests. Unlawful data activities can hurt your customers or constituents, and they can certainly hurt your business, industry, profession or institution. If we are to thrive in a data-driven global economy, we have to ace data privacy. There is no better way to face this challenge than by facing it together as co-stakeholders, where we watch each other’s back in a community of trust,” Liboro said.
This year’s PAW will be observed on May 25 to 31. As per Presidential Proclamation No. 527 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last year, celebrating PAW is premised on the “need to inform and educate the public about data privacy, data protection, and fair information rights and responsibilities as part of reinforcing the efforts of the NPC in protecting personal data and ensuring the Philippines’ compliance with international standards set for data protection.”
Commissioner Liboro, however, reminded the participants of the need to conduct their own PAW activities in their offices, carrying this year’s official tagline in their corporate communication and activities.
“Attending the NPC’s event for DPOs is not the be-all end-all of PAW celebrations, in fact, it’s just curtain-raiser. The more significant highlights belong to PICs and PIPs whose activities shall directly engage data subjects in a meaningful way. Such activities would also be a way for organizations to publicly demonstrate their commitment to uphold and protect the data privacy rights of their customers, employees and other stakeholders,” Liboro said.