Privacy Commissioner Naga and UN Special Rapporteur discuss the link between privacy and free expression

Today, 23rd of January 2024, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) hosted Ms. Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. I had the privilege of engaging in an insightful conversation with Ms. Khan about the pivotal role that the right to privacy plays in a country that upholds human rights and freedom of opinion and expression.

Fundamental human right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression are interdependent pillars of a democratic society. The right to privacy safeguards individuals from undue surveillance, ensuring that personal information is protected. This, in turn, cultivates an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and opinions, which is a cornerstone of any vibrant democracy.

This was at the core of our discussion – on how the NPC and Republic Act No. 10173, also known as the “Data Privacy Act of 2012,” safeguard personal information while championing freedom of opinion and expression, recognizing the role of journalism, art, literature, and research in a free society. This allows for creative expression to flourish without the fear of privacy violations.

Our discussion also encompassed NPC’s strategic initiatives aimed at fostering data privacy awareness and implementation of policies that balance privacy rights and lawful disclosure. The NPC has issued a Circular on Guidelines for Legitimate Interest and is also in the process in calling for public input in the issuance of guidelines on processing of personal data for research purposes. These policies guarantee a lawful basis for personal information processing while ensuring the free flow of information.

I express my sincerest gratitude to Ms. Khan for her valuable insights and commend her commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights globally. Her expertise and experience added immense value to our collective efforts in ensuring the protection of personal data. This is especially important given the renewed commitment of the Marcos Administration to promote and protect human rights.

The NPC values collaboration with international entities such as the United Nations in fostering a global conversation on the relationship between privacy and human rights. I hope that this visit will contribute to a deeper understanding of the democratic landscape in the Philippines and will result to the further development of effective strategies to safeguard both privacy and freedom of expression.

Privacy Commissioner