Data privacy in a hyper-connected world
How do people reconcile the need to protect data and the right to freedom of information?
The dilemma in this hyper-connected world is keeping personal data private and yet people love to overshare.
The Commission on Elections’ data leak this year raised the alarm on the government’s ability to protect sensitive information.
Republic Act No. 10173 otherwise known as Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 2012 has been enacted four years ago, but the commissioner for the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the agency in charge of implementing the law, was appointed only this year.
Raymond Liboro, former assistant secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, is the first commissioner of NPC.
“The objective of the act is to protect the fundamental right to privacy,” Liboro explained, “but at the same time ensure the free flow of information.
“It is our role and mandate to promote the cause of and the fundamental right to privacy. At the same time, ensure that the free flow of information will continue to flow to fuel development and innovations,” he continued. “But we also need to balance the two every step of the way.”
Liboro recognizes that the digital world continues to grow and people’s digital presence gets broader every day. The moment people wake up, they look for their smartphones, log in to social network accounts, and share whatever they want to share.
“If there is the Constitution that ensures our rights to privacy in the physical world, we have the commission to ensure our privacy to the digital world,” Liboro said.
The basic data principles in data collection include transparency, proportionality and legitimacy of purpose.
“This is really about risk management,” Liboro said. “We need to establish safeguards to protect the data.”
The need for data privacy will be more evident at the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), where the already hyper-connected world would be even more connected.
“Why is privacy being raised on the level of public policy?” asked Al Alegre, executive director of Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA).
FMA has been working on Filipinos’ internet rights and governance, digital rights, and policies on information and communications technology for public interest.
“There is a need to educate the public on the need for data privacy as it is a crucial step in protecting the public from many forms of cybercrime or IT security risks,” Alegre explained. “The rising significance is real because of the environment we live in. As citizens, we need protection.”
NPC looks into the context and violation of the Data Privacy Act.
Liboro said if people want to test whether they are crossing the line on the discussion of data privacy, they only have to ask themselves: “Is it fair and lawful? Was the information processed fair and lawful?”
“The commission is here to further the free flow of information,” he said. “If the environment is protected, the people would be more confident in sharing information that can be used for research (or scientific) reasons.”
“It is our job to show the world that Filipinos are serious about data privacy and it is important especially for the economy,” he added.
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