With looming national ID system, Koko calls for cyber security review

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has stressed the need for a “tight, effective and comprehensive cyber security policy” amid the Senate’s passage on second reading of the bill seeking to establish a national ID system.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

“It’s crucial for the effective implementation of a national ID system that we formulate a comprehensive cyber security policy that’s spread among the various state agencies tasked with defending and ensuring the integrity of government online information and our citizen’s private online data. If that data is compromised, then we will have problems with the ID system because sensitive information is stored online,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel called on the PNP, DND, DOJ, DICT, DOST, and other relevant agencies to asses “first, what would be the national policy on cyber security, and second, do we have the tools and technology to ensure that such policy is carried out.”

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary Benjamin Diokno, meanwhile, expressed hope that the ID system would be passed into law before the Easter break or before this month ends.

“I’m hopeful that the bill will be passed into law as early as next week,” Diokno told a press conference.

For his part, Pimentel stressed that beyond the national ID scheme, there’s an urgent need to have a national cyber security plan in place.

“We’re also just not talking about protecting sensitive government data like our GSIS, SSS and Philheath databases or securing election results from domestic or foreign hackers. Let’s not forget that in March 2016, there was reported hacking of the Comelec’s voter database which prompted the agency to seek the assistance of the DOST and the National Privacy Commission.”

“In addition to sensitive state data, an equally-important aspect of the cyber policy is government having the capability to assist the private sector in cyber concerns when asked to.”

Pimentel noted that electronic commerce or e-commerce reached $1.491 billion in revenues last 2018. An estimated 30 million Filipinos engaged in at least one commercial transaction over the Internet last year.

“In short, if a private citizen approaches the NBI or PNP and seeks some form of cyber assistance, whether it’s cyber stalking, posting inappropriate photos or failed personal commercial transactions online, these agencies should be able to provide it.”

Pimentel noted that apart from the NBI, which has its cyber crime unit, the DICT has a similar unit which in fact released its Cyber Security Plan in 2017.

“Capability-building and cooperation among government agencies should ensure that we have a stable and reliable cyber policy on hand. A national ID system or a robust e-commerce sector, for that matter, would be useless if we do not have the means to protect sensitive data,” Pimentel stressed.

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