Garillo, Corinne Joie

SY 2012-2013, Second Semester

Data Privacy Act

The advancement of technology greatly affected the way people communicate nowadays. Talking to someone anywhere in the country, or even abroad, can be made anytime anywhere through mobile phones. Thanks to social networking sites and electronic mails (e-mails). In just a minute, we can immediately expect a reply from ourloved ones and long-lost friends. It also changed the way we buy the things we need. With just a click, we can purchase the latest dress, books and gadgets online. Remarkable, isn’t it?

Aside from purchasing and socializing, most of us rely on the use of the Internet to do personal transactions online. I, for one, use my bank’s website to check my account balance and pay my bills online so as to save time and spare myself from long queues of depositors who personally transacts on the bank.

Most importantly, with the vast information that can be found in the Internet, it is of great help to all students. It helped me when I was doing my research study in collegeand is still helps my brother on his school assignments and/or projects. With just a click, all the information, related writings and videos of what you are searching will appear instantly on your screen.

Note, however, that surfing the Internet or doing transactions online has its risks. The moment we logged in, our Internet Protocol (IP) address is discoverable from any person who is knowledgeable in deciphering codes being used in the Internet, which canprovide them the details of what service provider we are using as well as our location and the kind of computer we are operating. For me to utilize my bank’s website, I have to encode and give the exact details pertaining to my personal information. As such, throughour IP, unscrupulous individuals can hack our account or send us virus through e-mails. As such, our identity and all information about us can be compromised and can be used in their scams.

I remember one of my officemates who fall victim of identity theft. She was so excited when she received her first issued credit card from a local bank. She asked some of our colleagues if it is possible for her to see her transactions or purchases made so she can monitor her usage. She was advised by our officemate that she can register her credit card on the bank’s website. But before she can access and use the site, she will be asked to provide information about herself like her name, email address, her birthday, her preferred username and her password. After providing the same, she was granted access and was able to view her account balance and billing statements.

But the convenience she once enjoyed in using the website turned into nightmare when she was asked and informed by the bank of the purchases she made online which amounted to Php10,000.00 more or less. She denied said purchases and was asked by the bank to submit evidence or complaints of some sort relative to her claim. The Customer Service Representative (CSR) asked her if she has purchased items online prior to the incident. She confirmed the same and told the CSR that she is doing it on her Personal Computer (PC) at home. The CSR likewise asked her if she installed anti-virus on her PCfor it is possible that her account was compromised when she visited a website which wasinfected by virus and was used by the hackers. We don’t know how to help her as we are also clueless how to resolve the same. Aside from that, we are not yet aware of any lawthat protects the privacy of Internet users and penalizes crimes committed with the use ofInternet like what she experienced. Her bad experience made me cautious in using the Internet to this date.

In a news article posted in on 22 June 2011, Abigail Kwok indicated that in the first half of 2011, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) recorded 56 cases of cybercrime, citing the same as a major roadblock the lack of laws to punish those committing the criminal acts. In the same article CIDG Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. was quoted stating that cybercrime cases include identity theft, pornography and estafa, among others. According to him: “These violations were committed over the Internet or through social networking sites. But there are no specific violations as of yet, such as identity theft, there are no specific laws to punish identity theft.” Further, the numbers provided by CIDG only consisted of walk-in complainants at their headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City and do not include numbers from local police stations from various regions.

As I mentioned earlier, one must understand that when we are doing any kind of transactions online, we are virtually communicating with other people and we are just being represented by our IP address. As such, the other party, represented by their websites, is requiring us to provide our personal information before we can access their sites. Likewise, we are being asked to agree on the terms and conditions while we are browsing their sites. In this way, the merchant, like my bank, can prove that the person who is trying to access and utilize the features of their site is one of their depositors. Thus, it is my responsibility to prove the existence of my account and give them the particulars I indicated when I opened my account.

As an added security feature, some websites requires the user to verify his/her email which he/she used in registering to the website. An email is sent to the email address used during the registration process to serve as acknowledgement on the part of the person who signed up and to prove that he/she is the same person who received the email. This kind of security is necessary to protect the personal and confidential information which a person has entrusted to the merchant’s website.

​Last 15 August 2012, President Benigno S. Aquino III, signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 10173, otherwise known as “An Act Protecting Individual Personal Information In Information And Communications System In The Government And The Private Sector, Creating For This Purpose A National Privacy Commission, And For Other Purposes.” This law seeks to protect the fundamental human right of privacy of communication while ensuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth. While it serves as protection, it also recognizes the vital role of information and communications technology in nation-building and its inherent obligation to ensure that personal information in information and communications system in the government and in the private sector are secured and protected.

​Section 4 of RA No. 10173 states that:

“SEC. 4. Scope. – This Act applies to the processing of all types of personal information and to any natural and juridical person involved in personal information processing including those personal information controllers and processors who, although not found in the Philippines, use equipment that are located in the Philippines, or those who maintain an office, branch or agency in the Philippines subject to the immediately succeeding paragraph…”

This is a welcome development for all of us. Providing personal information will be regulated. This will greatly benefit both the Internet-surfing individuals as well as the merchants who sells online. Investors, particularly those who are involved in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), can assure their foreign and local clienteles the safety of theirpersonal information. For ordinary people, like me, who finds happiness in surfing the Internet, buying things online or doing bank transactions on the net, the passage of saidlaw not only ensures the safety of all information being shared and posted in the Internetbut we will be assured that the information we gave and entrusted to websites will not be divulged to anyone without our consent.

Aside from protecting the right of every person who use the Internet, RA No. 10173 has also created the National Privacy Commission (Commission). The creation of the Commission will pacify the minds of Internet-surfer individuals and free them from paranoia of their names being used by someone or their email and bank accounts being hacked by hackers. The Commission has investigatory power to investigate complaint on matters concerning any personal information. It will have access to personal informationthat is subject of any complaint and to collect the information necessary to perform its functions. I just hoped that this Commission was already created when our officemate’s account was hacked. Because apart from conducting investigations, the Commission is also mandated to provide assistance on matters relating to privacy or data protection at the request of a national or local agency, a private entity or any person as provided under Section 7(k).

Moreover, journalists applauded the passage of the new law. Among those excluded in the scope of RA No. 10173 are “personal information processed for journalistic, artistic, literary or research purposes.” It also provides protection to journalists and their sources, stating that nothing in the Act repeals or amends the law that they are compelled to reveal the source of their news report. However, in my humble opinion, the Act should have provided more safeguard in the confidentiality of information that concerns national interest. Personally, I don’t want the Philippines to have its own local version of Wikileaks. Wherein, the site caters and publishes raw and sometimes unfounded news reports from journalists from almost all over the world. Oftentimes, the reports are concerning a country’s internal and diplomatic concerns.

Nevertheless, the passage of RA No. 10173 is a manifestation that the Philippines is ready and willing to deal with crimes being committed by high-tech criminals in this digital age. Aside from creating and passing a law, I just wish that the government canalso muster enough funds to train and acquire the needed manpower and equipment that will help in curbing cybercrime. So that we can all enjoy the benefit of having a worry-free and stress-free Internet-surfing experience in our country.

Senate Bill 3327 vis-a-vis Republic Act 10175

Question: If Senate Bill No. 3327, otherwise known as “The Magna Carta For Philippine Internet Freedom”, authored by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, is passed into law, would it:

a. cure the deficiency of Republic Act No. 10175, otherwise known as “The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012?; or

b. operate as repealing law for RA 10175?

After the public’s outrage over the controversial Anti-Cybercrime Law, Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago (Sen. Santiago) filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 3327, otherwise known as “An Act Establishing A Magna Carta For Philippine Internet Freedom, Cybercrime Prevention and Law Enforcement, Cyberdefense and National Cybersecurity” (MCPIF). This bill seeks to replace the controversial Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as “The Anti-Cybercrime Law.”

Sen. Santiago noted in her proposed bill how information and communication technology has brought change in the lives of common people. She started it by discussing how people communicate before the emergence of the mobile phones, how people around the world exchanges “hellos” by snail mail rather than the electronic mail, and how students crowd the school and public library doing research when the Internet and search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, etc.) is not yet known and cannot be afforded by parents.

The content of the bill filed by Sen. Santiago was proposed to her by a group of concerned netizens, including software designers, academics, bloggers, engineers, lawyers, etc. that will uphold freedom of expression in cyberspace. In a statement, Sen. Santiago said that protecting constitutional rights like free expression, privacy and due process should hold a “higher place in crafting laws” to crackdown on criminal activities on the Internet.

In addition, Sen. Santiago claimed that unlike RA No. 10175, SB No. 3327 “does not suffer from overbreadth and vagueness in its provisions on libel, unlike the law it tries to replace.” Moreover, it treats libel as a civil liability rather than a criminal act, a step forward in the move to decriminalize libel. Likewise, unlike the Anti-Cybercrime Law, the bill will not allow illegal searches and seizures by authorities and government will also no longer be allowed to block website. Under the bill she is introducing, a court order is required before authorities can takedown or censor Internet sites.

Cognizant of the broad range of responsibilities related to the enforcement of laws governing Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Sen. Santiago’s bill also supports the creation of a new executive department with a clear-cut functions and jurisdictions.

Taking into consideration other crimes that can be committed through the Internet (e.g. child pornography, child abuse and human trafficking, hacking, piracy and copyright infringement, etc.), provisions of SB No. 3327 seek to better equip law enforcement and military personnel to help them combat cyberterrorism as well as to defend from cyberattacks from any hostile entity.

As such, and so as to provide answers to the questions above, it is submitted that Senate Bill No. 3327, being introduced by Sen. Santiago, will expressly repeal RA 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law. This is unmistakable as Section 23 of the said bill categorically states that:

x x x

“Section 23. Repeal of the Cybercrime Law. – Republic Act No. 10175 aka the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012” is repealed in its entirety.”

x x x

Therefore, it is crystal clear that Senate Bill No. 3327 is not intended to cure the alleged defects of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. It is intended to dispose and replace it instead.

It is interesting to say that Sen. Santiago’s bill is being proposed as the main law that will govern the use of information and communications technology in the Philippines considering it contains Internet rights and freedoms and duties and regulations related to it, but it also introduces amendments for the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines, Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, the e-Commerce Act, and the Data Privacy Act. The bill clearly provides fine-tuned and clear-cut provisions that have an impact on cyberspace which address the realities of the present and the challenges of the future. As stated by Sen. Santiago, the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom is envisioned to ensure that the Philippines and its citizens are able to meet the challenges posed by ICT and cyberspace, able to wield it and benefit from it in charting a better future.

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