Data Privacy Act Cannot Be Used As Shield Against FOI

The Data Privacy Act of 2012 cannot be used by government officials as protection against the Freedom of Information Executive Order issued by President Duterte last week, this was said by the Data Privacy Commission” in a position paper in reaction to concerns that the Data Privacy Act will be used by Government Officials to deny access to information.

In the Position Paper the Data Privacy Commission said that, “A government official who abuses his position or takes undue advantage of his functions for personal benefit will not be able to use the Data Privacy Act to restrict access of the people to information”

It also added that Data Privacy Section (7) of the FOI Executive Order, is not intended to shield government officials but is for the protection of any personal data that may be contained in government records that is not relevant to the freedom of information request, particularly when it affects private citizens.”

Section 7 should not be viewed as restricting the freedom information upheld by the Executive Order.   It defined information and public records broadly, which would include all government records, even those containing personal data of citizens.  Section 7 is a recognition of the responsibility of government to protect personal data under its custody, and gives dueregard to the equally important right to privacy.

According to Data Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro, “We laud  the signing of the Executive Order on the Freedom of Information as an important step towards greater transparency and people’s participation in government.  The right to information on matters of public concern is a fundamental right provided in the Constitution and the right to privacy must always be balanced with the right of the people to be provided information on matters that affect their lives. The Executive Order was well-written to observe these two fundamental rights”. Commissioner Liboro Said.

About the National Privacy Commission
- The National Privacy Commission is an independent body mandated to administer and implement the Data Privacy Act of 2012, and to monitor and ensure compliance of the country with international standards set for data protection.