Privacy Commission issues cease-and-desist order to online political survey platform

Beware of a website that requires voters to give their full name, complete address, and mobile phone number so they can take part in a survey supposedly aimed at gauging the public pulse in the runup to the 2022 national elections.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) to the website for multiple violations of the Data Privacy Act.

In addition, the NPC has enjoined the National Telecommunications Commission to take down the website.

The NPC issued the order after the Complaints and Investigation Division (CID) scrutinized on its own accord amid concerns that the website’s continued operations would expose to harm voters who were enticed to participate in the survey.

Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro, and Deputy Privacy Commissioners John Henry D. Naga and Leandro Angelo Y. Aguirre signed the order based on the CID findings that:

  • does not meet the lawful criteria for processing of personal information and has failed to comply with the general data privacy principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality. Its processing of the collected personal information is not being done fairly and lawfully.
  • Processing by the website of personal information is detrimental to national security or public interest as it masquerades as an online political survey platform but does not specify its purpose in collecting the data. Neither does it provide a clear and complete privacy notice sufficient to solicit an informed consent, nor disclose its identity as a personal information controller.

Not only are data subjects misinformed about the true purpose and further processing of their personal information, but they are also left in the dark as to who will be held accountable in case their personal information is used for unlawful purposes.

  • The website’s continued operation is a palpable risk that can cause grave and irreparable injury to affected data subjects.

Deputy Privacy Commissioner Naga, who penned the order, said the NPC would not tolerate the act of misinforming data subjects, especially voters, on how and why their personal information was being collected.

“We also call on voters to be more vigilant and cautious in joining initiatives or campaigns that collect their personal data with questionable intentions,” Naga added.

The NPC directed to file a comment within 10 days from receipt of the order, and to stop processing personal data on its database until the Commission issues a decision on the submission of the comment.

The NPC sent the CDO to the email address of whose owners and operators have remained unidentified.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier said that was not affiliated with the election body. The Comelec reminded the public to think twice before clicking “online survey” websites created and managed by unknown entities as these may pose security risks.

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