NPC rejects suggestion of biz groups to suspend Data Privacy Act

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The National Privacy Commission (NPC) thumbed down on Friday, Sept. 25, the recommendation by business groups to suspend the Data Privacy Act to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement, the privacy body said science and medical ethics dictate that publicly naming Covid-infected individuals is counterproductive and won’t help in decreasing the transmission of infection.

“The call to suspend the Data Privacy Act (DPA) is gross disregard for the expert opinions of epidemiologists and scientists around the world and the reality happening on the ground, especially in countries that have kept Covid at bay. In the ASEAN alone, Singapore and Thailand, which have been cited for their success in contact tracing in battling the virus, have not considered suspending a fundamental human right as a measure to fight the pandemic,” the agency said.

“We must consistently defer to science and available evidence when making decisions especially in a national response as critical as this. There has been no evidence that publicly naming Covid-infected individuals has public health benefits. But we have evidence that outing those with the disease leads to public discrimination, shaming, and social vigilantism,” it stressed.

The NPC said prejudicial treatment has prevented Covid positive individuals and their close contacts from coming out to seek testing and treatment, making it more difficult for authorities to accurately capture how far Covid has spread.

“We have enough provisions in our laws to allow the government to effectively conduct contact tracing, treat patients, and face this threat while securing the personal data and dignity of our citizens,” it explained.

“The call to suspend the DPA in the name of public disclosure is anti-poor and devoid of science and ethics. Let us move forward the fight against Covid with more evidence-based proposals and solutions,” the NPC said.

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