Data Privacy Act nears passage as Senate OKs bill on 2nd hearing

In what is shaping up to be a golden year for ICT-related legislation, the highly anticipated Data Privacy Act recently passed second reading in the Senate and looked set to join the DICT and Cybercrime bills as the third legislation to be approved by the chamber.

Angara (left) with House ICT committee chair Sigfrido Tinga during a recent Senate hearing

Sen. Edgardo Angara, main sponsor of the bill, underscored that with the proposed law in place, the Philippines will have the legal backing to attract more investors in the booming Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry.

The Data Privacy Act (SBN 2965 under Committee Report 56) mandates both public and private institutions to protect the integrity and confidentiality of all personal data that these may collect throughout its operations.

“We’re a step closer in the legislative process to signaling to the rest of the world just how serious we are in cultivating our IT-driven industries,” said the lawmaker.

Angara, who is also chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (Comste), explained that prior drafts of the bill borrowed heavily from Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council.

The Directive is said to be the most widely adopted data privacy regime, as it prohibits companies in the European Union (EU) from outsourcing the processing of private information to countries that do not follow particular data protection standards.

Angara noted that calls are now being made for some revisions to be enacted in this Directive almost two decades since it was issued.

He then explained that certain amendments to the pending Filipino Data Privacy Act were needed to remain in tune with any incoming revisions to the European Parliamentary Directive.

“I can only thank my colleagues in the Senate for their invaluable input,” stressed Angara. “Close consultations with them has helped in the crafting of a measure that is up to date with international best practices and dynamic enough to account for any future changes in the way we balance the right to privacy between the need to speed up on how we transact through ICT.”

Angara noted that the counterpart bill has already been passed in the House of Representatives, and has to be approved on Third Reading in the Senate before being finalized in a bicameral conference.

“It really is just a matter of time before we can formally transmit to the President a measure that establishes a meaningful data privacy framework throughout the country,” concluded Angara.

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