Data privacy act signed into law; cited as keystone for ICT sector

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Pres. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III signed Republic Act No. 10173, otherwise known as the Data Privacy Act, on Aug. 15. It was uploaded on the same day in the Official Gazette and will become effective as a law after 15 days. Louis Casambre, executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), said the approved bill is a ?keystone for economic development through ICT and ICT-enabled industries?. Sen. Edgardo Angara, main author of the law in the Senate, said in a statement that the president’s approval ?is an unequivocal sign that the country is taking the necessary actions to become a functioning knowledge-based, ICT-driven economy.? ?All public and private enterprises are now mandated to safeguard the confidentiality and integrity of personal information collected in the course of their operations,? said Angara, chair of the S&T committee in the Senate. The solon said the law will not only boost the confidence of potential investors in the country’s IT-BPO industry, but also the trust of ordinary citizens in e-government initiatives. But Angara said the enactment of the law is only the first step, saying the greater challenge lies in its implementation and its long-term enforcement. ?Privacy and IT experts will have to be trained. Implementing rules and regulations will have to be crafted and promulgated,? he said. Amendments to the bill may even be necessary later on to balance the free flow of information against every person’s right to privacy, he added. Angara noted, however, that the Data Privacy Act is only one of the triumvirate of measures needed to usher in an IT revolution in the country. ?The Cybercrime Prevention Act will have to be enacted, as we still lack a legal framework for the detection, apprehension, and prosecution of such Internet-related crimes as hacking, identity theft, phishing, spamming, and child pornography. He added: ?A Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) must be created to allow government to efficiently allocate human and financial resources necessary for the integration of ICT in the more efficient delivery of social services. ?Taken together, these three measures will place our country in a very good position to chart its own path in this increasingly digital world,? he said. Under the new law, a Data Privacy Commission will be created which will be attached to the Office of the President. It will be headed by a Privacy Commissioner, who will also act as chairman of the commission. He will hold the rank of a Cabinet secretary. He will be assisted by two Deputy Privacy Commissioners, one to be responsible for data processing systems and one to be responsible for policies and planning. The Privacy Commissioner and the two Deputy Privacy Commissioners will be appointed by the President for a term of three years, and may be reappointed for another term of three years. The Deputy Privacy Commissioners must be recognized experts in the field of ICT and data privacy. They will enjoy the benefits emoluments equivalent to the rank of undersecretary. The law also provides protection to journalists and their sources, shielding editors or reporters from being compelled to reveal their sources of information. ]]>

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