Hontiveros: Passport data mess a serious national security risk

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) owes the entire country an explanation after recently admitting that a privately contracted firm took the entire database of the country’s passport holders.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

“[This] indicates a serious national security risk, and is evidence of the Duterte government’s gross incompetence in protecting the people’s private data,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Exactly what data were lost? When, how, and under whose watch did this happen? Where did the breakdown occur? Who exactly is the responsible firm? And why aren’t they being sued for running away with such vital information?” she asked.

The lawmaker said public needs to be reassured that the data will be retrieved completely and with the highest sense of urgency and priority. Apart from that, she saod the people responsible for such a gross display of incompetence should be held fully responsible.

“They say, ‘go out and see the world.’ But how can our people do that if our government can’t even provide efficient passport application and renewal services to the public? Worse, it can’t be trusted to protect the citizens’ sensitive data,” Hontiveros said.

“The Duterte government has made a lot of promises about protecting our safety, our sovereignty and our territory. If we cannot trust it to protect our people’s documents, how can we trust it with anything else?” she added.

The National Privacy Commission has stated that it will launch its own investigation on the DFA’s assertion that the private contractor has caused the non-availability of data and other documents entrusted to it for processing.

“We will summon the DFA and concerned agencies including the alleged contractor to determine the facts surrounding the case,” NPC commissioner Raymond Liboro said.

“Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law,” he stated.

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