DILG to assume control of StaySafe contract tracing app

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The government, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), is taking complete control of the StaySafe contract tracing app developed by local tech firm MultiSys Technologies Corp.

This is after the government and MultiSys signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Monday, March 29, that will give the DILG complete responsibility and controllership over StaySafe.PH and all sensitive personal data that are collected with the use of the application.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) welcomed the signing of the agreement even as it stressed that privacy should be considered in government interventions that make use of personal data.

“When the government collects the personal data of our citizenry, we owe to them a solemn covenant to protect their personal data, and ensure that we will not use their data for other purposes,” NPC chair Raymond Liboro said in a statement.

The app’s creator, MultiSys, has risen in prominence in recent years with telco giant PLDT even acquiring a 46% stake in the company for P2.16 billion. Its high-profile CEO and founder, David Almirol Jr., has close ties with the intelligence community, allowing the company to bag tech projects related to national security.

But former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. has roundly criticized the StaySafe app for its failure to make a dent in the contract tracing efforts of the government.

In a Facebook post on March 18, Rio said StaySafe remains unrecognized by the Department of Health a year after being selected by IATF as the official contact tracing app.

“It was never mentioned in this recent Information post of DOH on its FB page regarding contact tracing. Malacañang admits that contact tracing remains very poor, and StaySafe has not traced a single case of an infected person making it ineffective,” Rio said.

The NPC said gaining the trust of the citizens is crucial in the success of the government’s contact tracing efforts

“Filipinos need to be assured that data is handled securely; the data demanded of them is proportional to the purpose; they can understand how their data will be used; there is a specific purpose for the processing; and their data will be retained for no longer than is necessary,” it stressed.

“The NPC recognizes the immense benefits of data-driven technologies. We treat our personal information controllers all the same, and we help those that try to comply with the Data Privacy Act and its principles,” the agency added.

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