The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Thursday, April 8, told local government units (LGUs) to observe “transparency with responsibility” when posting the identities of the financial beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) on social media.
The privacy body issued the statement as a number of LGUs were reported to have released the sensitive personal information of cash aid recipients on Facebook and Google Drive.
“[P]ublic disclosure of personal information should strictly adhere to the principle of proportionality. LGUs must determine the types of personal data that they will disclose, particularly when the original list of SAP beneficiaries contains sensitive personal information,” the NPC said.
The NPC said it has noted that some LGUs have unnecessarily disclosed the sensitive personal details of the beneficiaries such as disabilities, complete address, and age, among others.
The privacy agency acknowledged, however, that social media is a quick and accessible method to reach the public. “[U]ploading the list of SAP beneficiaries through these platforms may be considered an efficient way to exercise transparency in utilizing public fund,” it said.
In fact, the NPC said the Data Privacy Act does not prohibit LGUs from disclosing information which it deems essential for the public to know in the name of transparency. “Nevertheless, LGUs should be mindful of its concomitant responsibilities as personal information controllers,” it said.
The NPC said it has already instructed some of the LGUs to take down the sensitive information they posted online. If the LGUs won’t heed the advice, the agency said it can exercise its contempt powers and file a case in court for unauthorized processing, malicious disclosure, and violation of proportionality.
“Individuals may [also] file a complaint to the NPC after they’ve exhausted all means to request their personal data removed,” it said.