By Catherine S Valente/Manila Times
Malacanang has said the Philippine government could sue the private entity contracted to produce Philippine passports if found to be responsible for a data breach.
In a news briefing, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government could also demand the return of passport data, insisting that this belonged to the government.
“Certainly, the data belongs to this government. Other parties cannot just get that. The process there is to demand, return if they have it and they refuse, then you sue them. That’s how it is,” Panelo told reporters.
Panelo called for a thorough investigation on whether or not there was data breach in the passport system.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was expected to conduct an internal probe into the matter.
It was Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr who revealed last week that the firm to which passport printing was previously outsourced took off with all passport data when its contract with the government was terminated.
The DFA had required applicants for passport renewal to submit original copies of their birth certificates as a result of the data loss.
Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said his office could eventually conduct its own probe into the alleged passport breach.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called on the government to impose penalties on the people behind the supposed passport data breach at the DFA.
In a statement, CHR spokesman Jacqueline Ann de Guia said a breach was a national security issue as passport data covered sensitive and personal information of Filipinos.
“The Commission reiterates the importance of the right to privacy in preserving human dignity as stated in various human rights documents, including the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012,” de Guia said.
The Data Privacy Act of 2012 aims “to protect the fundamental human right of privacy, of communication while ensuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth — the State recognises the vital role of information and communications technology in nation-building and its inherent obligation to ensure that personal information in information and communications systems in the government and in the private sector are secured and protected.”
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