The National Privacy Commission (NPC) said on Thursday, May 11, that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local telecommunications companies to safeguard the personal data of telecommunications subscribers.
The MOU aims to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between the government and private sector, as well as to further enhance the quality of services to stakeholders while ensuring the protection of personal data.
The MOU was signed on May 10, 2023 by privacy commissioner John Henry D. Naga and representatives from Dito Telecommunity (Adel A. Tamano), Globe Telecom (Irish Krystle Salandanan-Almeida), and Smart Communications (Leah Camilla B. Jimenez).
By virtue of the memorandum, a Joint Task Force is established to foster coordination, communication, and implementation of the parties’ respective obligations regarding data privacy and protection, with NPC serving as the secretariat.
The NPC, in cooperation with the telcos, will work towards capacity-building, knowledge sharing, and intensifying anti-fraud measures by launching a joint information dissemination campaign which will educate and inform the public on these fraudulent schemes and the correct process on how to report them.
The collaboration between NPC and the telcos, through the MOU, is a response to the urgent need to protect the public’s data privacy and security, especially against the prevalence of fraudulent schemes such as targeted smishing messages.
“It is imperative that we join forces with the private sector and collaborate to further strengthen data privacy awareness and educate our kababayans in safeguarding their personal data. By working together in this common endeavor, we can effectively promote the significance of ensuring that personal data is safe and secured, and the consequences of failing to do so,” Naga said.
“This initiative is crucial in light of the increasing instances of data breaches and cyber threats that pose a significant risk to data privacy and security. It is our collective responsibility to equip our fellow citizens with the knowledge on their rights as data subjects and doing their part in protecting their own personal data,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has urged financial technology (fintech) users to invoke measures set in Republic Act 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act and its implementing rules and regulations following an apparent foiled attempt by suspected cyber criminals to siphon off money from GCash.
“Incidents like this diminish the confidence of consumers not only in using and adopting fintech in their daily transactions but also in the country’s financial system in general, which could potentially impede economic growth,” Gatchalian emphasized.
He said enhanced consumer protection is the main objective of RA 11765, which the senator co-authored. The law, enacted in May last year, aims to protect consumers from financial fraudsters by empowering regulators to proactively respond and set up measures that address consumer concerns.
Citing provisions from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Circular No. 1160, Gatchalian said victims should immediately report any unauthorized transaction to their financial institution so it can investigate the incident.
Pending the result of the investigation, complainants are protected as the financial institutions concerned are empowered to take necessary actions to protect the consumers’ interest by providing reasonable accommodations such as a non-withdrawable provisional credit of the disputed amount and other necessary actions to protect the consumers such as but not limited to account blocking or freezing of funds.
Gatchalian emphasized that GCash and other fintech platforms should proactively ensure that ordinary financial products and service consumers are sufficiently protected from hacking, fraud, and other cybercrimes.
Based on reports, a considerable number of GCash clients have complained of unauthorized cash transfers from their respective accounts. This then brought anxiety and confusion to a lot of their customers, especially since the GCash app was unavailable for a while.
“Kailangang siguruhin ng mga online payment services ang kaligtasan at seguridad ng pinaghirapang pera ng mga consumers para magkaroon ng kompyansa ang ating mga kababayan,” Gatchalian said.