Data privacy body looks into Facebook breach

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) is slated to conduct an investigation into the reported breach of around 1.175 million Facebook accounts of Filipino users by British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

The country's data privacy authority decided to probe the data breach and seek more concrete actions from Facebook.

In a letter dated April 11 and addressed to Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the NPC notified that the Philippines will launch an inquiry to "determine whether there is unauthorized processing of personal data of Filipinos, and other possible violations of the Data Privacy Act of 2012."

Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects individual information in information and communications system in the government and the private sector.

The state privacy watchdog demanded that the social media giant submit within 15 days all pertinent documents relevant to the processing of personal data of affected Filipinos, as well as to the sharing of such information with third parties.

"The Philippines has exceeded user growth projections and now has more than 67 million active Facebook users. It is our duty to protect the data privacy interests of these users, and to provide those affected with avenues for redress," the letter read.

"We will look into Facebook's adherence to the data processing of principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality required to of every personal information controller processing the personal date of Filipinos. We will also examine whether Facebook upholds data subject rights," it added.

The letter was signed by NPC commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro, and deputy commissioners Ivy Patdu and Leandro Aguirre.

Facebook has admitted that there was an "improper sharing" of Facebook users' personal data.

There were reports that Cambridge Analytica siphoned data of millions of Facebook users to use it in the 2016 presidential bid of United States President Donald Trump.

Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, Strategic Communications Laboratories, also purportedly claimed that it had helped a Filipino client win the national elections. Speculations are rife that the client is President Rodrigo Duterte.

In its blog on April 4, Facebook said the Philippines is the second country that is most affected by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, with 1.175 million accounts of Filipino users having been compromised. (SunStar Philippines)
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