Data Privacy Act amendments in line with public health concerns discussed

Published August 8, 2020, 6:24 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Communications and Technology is swiftly moving to align the current Data Privacy Act with public health concerns and humanitarian emergencies while strengthening the country’s status as among the emerging data protection leaders worldwide.

In a meeting with various stakeholders, State agencies, and the finance sector  Friday, the technical working group completed its deliberations for amendments to Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

The TWG chaired by Navotas City Rep. John Reynald Tiangco concluded the study after conducting four hearings for a comprehensive study of the proposals.

Data privacy guarantees provided under the law have been widely blamed for the difficulties faced by authorities in conducting contact tracing of possible COVID 19 carriers.

The bills currently under study seek to lift restrictions on processing of sensitive personal information and privileged information if the purpose is for medical diagnosis and treatment, preventive or occupational medicine and management and quality assurance of health and social care systems and services.

It was also proposed that said restrictions may not be observed for reasons of public interest in the area of public health and humanitarian emergencies.

House Bill 1188 sought stiffer penalties against violations of the data privacy law, rationalize all existing rules and regulations and create a more effective and sufficient data privacy scheme.  It is authored by House Deputy Speaker and 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael L. Romero.

HB 1188 proposes to increase imprisonment period and fines for unauthorized processing and accessing of personal information and sensitive personal information and improper disposal and concealment of security breaches involving of personal information and sensitive personal information.

Romero also called for stiffer penalties for malicious disclosure.

Romero, together with fellow 1Pacman partylist Rep. Enrico A. Pineda, sought the conduct of congressional inquiry into the alleged non-compliance of the Department of Education Computerization Program with the provisions of RA 10173.

Earlier, the two partylist solons filed House Resolution 0542 directing the information and communications technology committee, to look into supposed data privacy violations committed by online lending institutions.

On the other hand, Tarlac Rep. Victor A. Yap, chairman of the communications and technology panel, authored HB 5612 that provides for the alignment of the law with international standards.

Included in Yap’s proposal are provisions that will address child online protection concerns by requiring parental consent for online services offered.

HB 5612 also clarifies the definition of what would constitute sensitive personal information and the requirements for personal data breach notifications.

“This aligns the criteria for lawful processing of personal information with international standards, allowing processing for public health purpose and humanitarian emergencies, among others,” said Yap.

“This bill will effectively address data privacy challenges and other cross-order data processing concerns in support of the country’s digital transformation towards a knowledge-based economy,” he explained.