NPC: Police have no blanket power to access data of persons in custody of gov’t agency

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The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has warned the Philippine National Police that it does not have unbridled access to the personal information of people even if these data are lodged with another government agency.

The privacy body appeared to have made the statement after lawyer Jam Jacob wrote a scathing criticism in his Newsbytes.PH column that the NPC was not doing its job for its failure to rebuke the Calbayog City police for its unusual request to the court of that town to get the name of the lawyers representing “communists terrorists groups” or CTGs.

“While the NPC recognizes that there may be a presumption of regularity in the conduct of police operations, the rights of the data subjects remain to be paramount and must be upheld at all times,” NPC chair Raymund Liboro said.

“We would like to emphasize that law enforcement or investigative agencies of the government do not have blanket authority to access or use the information about private individuals under the custody of another agency.”

Liboro said government agencies have the duties and responsibilities as personal information controllers under the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

“Consideration shall be made on the nature of the requested information and on whether these are required to be kept confidential in line with other applicable laws and regulations on the matter,” the NPC head said.

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