Tibaldo: The transparency seal and data privacy act

A CEASELESS promotion and advocacy of government developmental programs and services is likened to a house with an open door where citizens can freely enter and acquire information and assistance that can help them in their day-to-day activities.

In our work as one of the public information officers, we are directed to popularize government services, however, we also follow certain rules and national guidelines that I’ll be discussing here.

The Transparency Seal or Republic Act 10633 seeks to enhance transparency and enforce accountability in all agencies of government, including Constitutional Offices enjoying fiscal autonomy, SUCs, GOCCs and LGUs shall maintain an official website where its transparency seal shall be posted and which shall include agency mandates and functions.

Said offices must also post names of its officials with their position and designation and contact information to enhance transparency and enforce accountability on their official websites.

Also called Citizen’s Charter, info-bulletins set in all government offices must also provide easy to follow procedural steps that guides clients in their business transactions.

A Data Privacy Act is also enacted to safeguard the fundamental human right of every individual to privacy while ensuring free flow of information for innovation, growth, and national development. These rules recognize the vital role of information and communications technology in nation-building and enforce the State’s inherent obligation to ensure that personal data in information and communications systems in the government and in the private sector are secured and protected.

However, there are unscrupulous members of the society who take advantage of technology, use shared information and prey on unsuspecting victims.

Since my wife’s mobile number was publicly shared by her office’s website, she received calls from strangers claiming to have been hired by someone to liquidate her if she’ll not settle for a certain amount.

In short, the caller is like a mercenary hired to dispose of a target person but who can also make an arrangement of non-execution in exchange for a negotiated deal.

We later learned that such “modus operandi” by anonymous callers happened to many public officials and some even succumbed to the threat by paying a huge amount. As a result, I later learned that my wife’s contact number along with the rest of her office counterparts were deleted from their online directory.

Sensitive personal information such an individual’s race, ethnic origin, marital status, age, color, and religious, philosophical or political affiliations is considered private by the Data Privacy Act especially if it refers to information about an individual’s health, education, genetic or sexual life of a person, or to any proceeding for any offense committed or alleged to have been committed by an individual.

Under the “Special Cases” of the Act, these Rules among others shall not apply to: title, office address, and office telephone number of the individual; salary range, and responsibilities of the position held by the individual; information relating to a benefit of a financial nature conferred on an individual upon the discretion of the government, such as the granting of a license or permit.

Also not applicable under Special Cases are personal information processed for journalistic, artistic or literary purpose, in order to uphold freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, subject to requirements of other applicable law or regulations and personal information that will be processed for research purpose, intended for a public benefit, subject to the requirements of applicable laws, regulations, or ethical standards.

Republic Act No. 9160, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act protects personal information originally collected from residents of foreign jurisdictions in accordance with the laws of those foreign jurisdictions, including any applicable data privacy laws, which is being processed in the Philippines.

On matters pertaining to the protection afforded to journalists and their Sources, the Act states that publishers, editors, or duly accredited reporters of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation shall not be compelled to reveal the source of any news report or information appearing in said publication if it was related in any confidence to such publisher, editor, or reporter.

Under the General principles in data collection and retention, the processing of personal data must be for a declared, specified, and legitimate purpose and that consent is required prior to the collection and processing of personal data, subject to exemptions provided by the Act and other applicable laws and regulations.

When consent is required, it must be time-bound in relation to the declared, specified and legitimate purpose. (With sources from the Data Privacy Act of 2012)
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