House bill amending Data Privacy Act hurdles first reading

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The committee on information and communications technology (ICT) in the House of Representatives, approved on Thursday, Feb. 4, an unnumbered substitute bill to House Bills 1188 and 5612, which would amend Republic Act 10173 or the “Data Privacy Act of 2012.”

House ICT chair Victor Yap

The measure, authored by House deputy speaker Michael Romero and ICT committee chair Victor Yap, seeks to address the data privacy challenges and cross-border data processing concerns in the country.

In his explanatory note of HB 1188, Romero said the bill seeks “to foster protection for individual personal information in information and communications systems in the government and the private sector [by] providing stiffer provisions, rationalizing all existing rules and regulations, as well as creating a more effective and sufficient data privacy scheme.”

Ivy Grace Villasoto, OIC-director for the Privacy Policy Office of the National Privacy Commission, discussed some of the stipulations tackled and approved by the technical working group (TWG) on the substitute bill.

Villasoto said the TWG amended the penal provisions to ensure that the punishment imposed on violators is left to the discretion of the proper court. She added that the criteria for lawful processing of personal information stated in the bill are:

  • Consent from the data subject,
  • Necessary for medical purposes, and
  • Needed for public interest in the area of public health or humanitarian emergencies, among others.

Meanwhile, the panel also created a TWG to further discuss and fine-tune the provisions of HB 299, seeking to provide for policies to enhance the efficiency and transparency in allocating, assigning as well as managing radio frequency spectrums.

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