NPC: Data privacy law can?t be used as shield against FOI

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The National Privacy Commission, composed of (from left) deputy commissioner Dondi Mapa, commissioner Raymond Liboro, and deputy commissioner Ivy Patdu The National Privacy Commission, composed of (from left) deputy commissioner Dondi Mapa, commissioner Raymond Liboro, and deputy commissioner Ivy Patdu[/caption] The agency clarified the issue in a position paper as a reaction to concerns that the Data Privacy Act might be used by public officials to deny access to information. The NPC said any ?government official who abuses his position or takes undue advantage of his functions for personal benefit will not be able to use the Data Privacy Act to restrict access of the people to information? It also noted that Section 7 of the data privacy law ?is for the protection of any personal data that may be contained in government records that is not relevant to the freedom of information request, particularly when it affects private citizens.? ?Section 7 should not be viewed as restricting the freedom information upheld by the Executive Order. It defined information and public records broadly, which would include all government records, even those containing personal data of citizens,? the agency said. ?Section 7 is a recognition of the responsibility of government to protect personal data under its custody, and gives due regard to the equally important right to privacy,? it added. According to NPC commissioner Raymund Liboro, the EO on FOI is an important step towards greater transparency and people?s participation in government. ?The right to information on matters of public concern is a fundamental right provided in the Constitution and the right to privacy must always be balanced with the right of the people to be provided information on matters that affect their lives. The Executive Order was well-written to observe these two fundamental rights,? Liboro said. ]]>

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