NPC summons Baguio school execs over pregnancy testing of students

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has sent a summon to officials of Pines City Colleges in Baguio City requiring them to appear before the agency as part of an investigation into the potential data privacy violations of its intention to subject female students to undergo mandatory pregnancy testing.

NPC complaints and investigation chief Francis Acero

In the summon dated November 8 and signed by NPC complaints and investigations division chief Francis Acero, the agency required top executives Rocio Prats-Baltao, Ma. Regina S. Prats, and Aurelia D. Navarro to report to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Field Office in Baguio City to explain the purpose of its pregnancy test.

Acero said the NPC has initiated an investigation upon learning of the memorandum issued by Pines City Colleges requiring its female students to mandatory pregnancy testing. In the memorandum, Navarro, the school physician, also instructed the deans and department heads of the school to provide a list of all their female students to facilitate sample collection.

The school earlier explained on its Facebook page that the processing is for the protection of the students and is a policy agreed upon during enrolment.

“This Commission requires clarification or confirmation on your compliance with the fundamental data privacy principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality in accordance with law,” Acero said in his letter to the school officials.

Under the Data Privacy Act, all personal information controllers such as Pines City Colleges must abide by principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality, according to Acero.

Moreover, the processing of personal information about an individual’s health and sexual history, as sensitive personal information, is prohibited unless certain specific conditions such as consent are met.

“The failure to meet these conditions or the failure to adhere by fundamental data privacy principles may result in civil, administrative, and criminal liability,” Acero wrote.

“Your institution’s Memorandum dated 25 October 2018 requiring mandatory pregnancy testing (and by necessary implication, access to the information derived therefrom) constitutes processing of sensitive personal information of your students. This Commission has a legal mandate to ensure that the data privacy rights of your students are protected,” the NPC official asserted.

Acero also noted that the records of Pines City Colleges do not appear in database of its registered personal information controllers, which indicates that the school does not have a data protection officer registered with the NPC.

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