Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Landmark Data Privacy Law still unenforceable more than 2 years after passage

By Melvin G. Calimag

The Data Privacy Law, which was approved in August 2012 and hailed by the local ICT industry as a landmark legislation, has yet to take effect since the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) has yet to be drafted and issued by the government.

The Data Privacy Law was dicussed during the reent 2nd National Privacy Consultative Conference
The Data Privacy Law was dicussed during the reent 2nd National Privacy Consultative Conference

This glaring mistake of omission was tackled extensively during the recent 2nd National Privacy Consultative Conference at the Oracle Hotel in Quezon City and at the first Philippine ICT Leadership Summit in Makati City.

Local stakeholders have squarely placed the blame on Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III for failing to form the National Privacy Commission and appoint its commissioners as provided for under the law.

The commission, which is to be headed by a privacy commissioner and two deputy privacy commissioners, was supposed to have been formed when the law took effect more than two years ago.

The law specifically placed the commission as an attached unit under the Department of Information and Communications (DICT). But since the DICT has yet to be created, the commission necessarily fell under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President (OP).

However, despite the law?s significance to the local ICT industry, particularly to the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, the OP has not acted since the law?s approval to form the privacy commission and name its commissioners.

Alan Alegre, executive director of the Foundation for Media Alternatives and former consultant with the ICT Office of the DOST, said there was an attempt after the law?s passage to draft the IRR.

The drafting of the IRR started on Oct. 2013 during the first ICT Policy Consultative workshop conducted by the National ICT Advisory Council (NICTAC) together with DOST?s ICT Office.

But Alegre said those efforts have to be scuttled since there was ?no sense? drafting the IRR if there were no privacy commission to implement them in the first place. He said the ICT Office of the DOST cannot be tapped to perform the task since the agency has a different mandate from the privacy commission.

At the time of its signing into law, local ICT leaders labeled it as a watershed mark for the ICT industry, saying the legislation will reinforce the country?s booming BPO sector.

Louis Casambre, executive director of the ICT Office, said the approved bill was a ?keystone for economic development through ICT and ICT-enabled industries?.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, main author of the law in the Senate, said the law?s approval ?was an unequivocal sign that the country is taking the necessary actions to become a functioning knowledge-based, ICT-driven economy.?

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.

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