By Edd K. Usman
Department of Information and Communications and Technology (DICT) secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima on Monday, Dec. 5, emphasized the importance of the right to privacy and its protection at the 1st Data Privacy Summit in Quezon City.
The newly formed National Privacy Commission (NPC) organized the two-day event, the Philippines’ first-ever summit on data privacy.
Salalima, the first DICT secretary, described the right to privacy as one of “the freedoms dearest to our hearts.” “It is necessary and timely that we talk about the right to privacy given the seeming conflict at times between this right to privacy and the right to the digital freedom of expression,” he said.
Salalima emphasized the need for the government to discuss privacy and the need to balance this right as against the needs of national security, which in turn are meant to protect the Filipino people.
He cited some cases in the United States and in the Philippines to underscore the vital need to safeguard and protect the right to privacy of individuals.
The same message was conveyed by NPC commissioner Raymund E. Liboro before an audience of over 200 public information security officers from the government.
He emphasized the crucial role of government information security managers in protecting privacy as a human right because it serves as basis for the enjoyment of the most basic of personal and political freedoms such as freedom of thought, association, speech, and expression.
The government, he added, has the responsibility to ensure the data it collects from the citizens are safe.
“Without a doubt, personal data is valuable and has to be protected. Government is the single biggest collector and processor of personal information and it falls to government agencies like us to ensure that personal data is protected and the privacy of personal data is secured from those with malicious intentions,” said Liboro.
Salalima, meanwhile, urged all government officers to be conscious of protecting the data privacy of members of the public which, he said, is an extension of their sworn duty as public servants.
Liboro said the first summit was exclusive to government agencies, assuring that the NPC will also hold dialogues with the private sector in 2017. “We need you, you need us. Let us help each other,” he said, apparently referencing the public and the private sectors.
The NPC partnered with the DICT and cooperated with the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Forum, Inc. in holding the summit.
Dubbed PRIVACY.GOV.PH, the event attracted ICT professionals from national government agencies, government-owned and -controlled organizations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs), and state universities and colleges (SUCs).
The summit title is also the website address of the NPC, which the commission will formally launch this month to serve as venue where Filipinos can air complains, chief among them the violation of their right to privacy.
Liboro obviously warned that those collecting and processing people’s personal data or information have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to make sure data subjects are protected, citing the penalties to be meted on violators based on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10173, otherwise called the “Data Privacy Act of 2012.”
He said the penalties for nine kinds of transgressions ranged from one year to six years and fine of from P100,000 to P5 million.
“We hold the greatest responsibility to our public. Consequently, we also have the biggest targets on our backs,” Liboro said.