Data Privacy in the Philippines

By : | Category : Uncategorized | Comments Off

18th Feb 2015

IMG_0242

Information and communications technology plays a vital role in nation-building and development of the country. In the information age, he who holds information holds power. From macro-economic perspective, the free flow of information is concededly vital to the growth of any nation, and key to the success of any business. With the power that follows information, it is in the interest of the State to govern the parameters by which such power will be held, while at the same time ensuring the free flow of information to promote innovation and growth.

From the perspective of citizens and individuals, the State also protects their fundamental human rights to privacy of communication. And with the exponentially increasing availability of ways and means to access personal data and information, it becomes the duty of the State to guard against transgressions of the individual’s rights.

Republic Act No. 10173, otherwise known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012, is one formidable piece of legislation. Its application encompasses all walks of business, from the banking and finance sector, to labor and human resources, schools, and even non-profit organizations. This is of course not to say that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 finds no application to individuals and citizens. On the contrary, the units of information supplied by individuals and citizens in the Philippines comprise the whole, which the Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects. Thus, access to private and personal information belonging to individuals is covered by its mantle of protection in the same and unyielding manner as trade secrets held by global conglomerates and multinationals.

Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects all forms of information that are personal, private or privileged. It covers all persons, whether natural or juridical, with particular emphasis to companies or juridical entities involved in the processing of protected information.

It is important to note however, that by its very title, the law only protects information that is considered private. Information that has been publicly available or accessible before its enactment continues to the public. The value that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 adds to the present state of Philippine law is the manner by which private or confidential information is protected. To be more specific, the passage of this law has, to a great extent, upgraded the value of data and its protection in the Philippines. To this end, the law specifies and provides stringent parameters for their access, and imposes grave sanctions, both penal and pecuniary, for unlawful use or disclosure of information.

As a matter of fact, the Data Privacy Act of 2012 upgraded the pecuniary liability for a violation of its provisions. Never before has there been pecuniary liability expressly specified in a law, as high as up to Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00). Moreover, unlike in the past where negligence in handling confidential information is not met with penal sanction, the Data Privacy Act punishes negligence in handling information with great severity. Finally, it is only until its enactment that a large-scale violation of data privacy was defined. It may be important to state that law imposes the maximum penal sanction where the personal information of at least one hundred (100) persons is harmed, affected or involved. To give an idea of how stringent the current state of data privacy laws in the Philippines are, the pertinent penal provisions of R.A. No. 10173 are reproduced below:

SEC. 25. Unauthorized Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information. – (a) The unauthorized processing of personal information shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (Php2,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who process personal information without the consent of the data subject, or without being authorized under this Act or any existing law.

(b) The unauthorized processing of personal sensitive information shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from three (3) years to six (6) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Four million pesos (Php4,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who process personal information without the consent of the data subject, or without being authorized under this Act or any existing law.

SEC. 26. Accessing Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information Due to Negligence. – (a) Accessing personal information due to negligence shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (Php2,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who, due to negligence, provided access to personal information without being authorized under this Act or any existing law.
(b) Accessing sensitive personal information due to negligence shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from three (3) years to six (6) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Four million pesos (Php4,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who, due to negligence, provided access to personal information without being authorized under this Act or any existing law.

SEC. 27. Improper Disposal of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information. – (a) The improper disposal of personal information shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from six (6) months to two (2) years and a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (Php100,000.00) but not more than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who knowingly or negligently dispose, discard or abandon the personal information of an individual in an area accessible to the public or has otherwise placed the personal information of an individual in its container for trash collection.
b) The improper disposal of sensitive personal information shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (Php100,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who knowingly or negligently dispose, discard or abandon the personal information of an individual in an area accessible to the public or has otherwise placed the personal information of an individual in its container for trash collection.

SEC. 28. Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information for Unauthorized Purposes. – The processing of personal information for unauthorized purposes shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) year and six (6) months to five (5) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons processing personal information for purposes not authorized by the data subject, or otherwise authorized under this Act or under existing laws.

The processing of sensitive personal information for unauthorized purposes shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from two (2) years to seven (7) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (Php2,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons processing sensitive personal information for purposes not authorized by the data subject, or otherwise authorized under this Act or under existing laws.

SEC. 29. Unauthorized Access or Intentional Breach. – The penalty of imprisonment ranging from one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (Php2,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who knowingly and unlawfully, or violating data confidentiality and security data systems, breaks in any way into any system where personal and sensitive personal information is stored.

SEC. 30. Concealment of Security Breaches Involving Sensitive Personal Information. – The penalty of imprisonment of one (1) year and six (6) months to five (5) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00) shall be imposed on persons who, after having knowledge of a security breach and of the obligation to notify the Commission pursuant to Section 20(f), intentionally or by omission conceals the fact of such security breach.

SEC. 31. Malicious Disclosure. – Any personal information controller or personal information processor or any of its officials, employees or agents, who, with malice or in bad faith, discloses unwarranted or false information relative to any personal information or personal sensitive information obtained by him or her, shall be subject to imprisonment ranging from one (1) year and six (6) months to five (5) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00).

SEC. 32. Unauthorized Disclosure. – (a) Any personal information controller or personal information processor or any of its officials, employees or agents, who discloses to a third party personal information not covered by the immediately preceding section without the consent of the data subject, shall he subject to imprisonment ranging from one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00).
(b) Any personal information controller or personal information processor or any of its officials, employees or agents, who discloses to a third party sensitive personal information not covered by the immediately preceding section without the consent of the data subject, shall be subject to imprisonment ranging from three (3) years to five (5) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (Php2,000,000.00).

SEC. 33. Combination or Series of Acts. – Any combination or series of acts as defined in Sections 25 to 32 shall make the person subject to imprisonment ranging from three (3) years to six (6) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (Php1,000,000.00) but not more than Five million pesos (Php5,000,000.00).

SEC. 34. Extent of Liability. – If the offender is a corporation, partnership or any juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the responsible officers, as the case may be, who participated in, or by their gross negligence, allowed the commission of the crime. If the offender is a juridical person, the court may suspend or revoke any of its rights under this Act. If the offender is an alien, he or she shall, in addition to the penalties herein prescribed, be deported without further proceedings after serving the penalties prescribed. If the offender is a public official or employee and lie or she is found guilty of acts penalized under Sections 27 and 28 of this Act, he or she shall, in addition to the penalties prescribed herein, suffer perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification from office, as the case may be.

SEC. 35. Large-Scale. – The maximum penalty in the scale of penalties respectively provided for the preceding offenses shall be imposed when the personal information of at least one hundred (100) persons is harmed, affected or involved as the result of the above mentioned actions.

SEC. 36. Offense Committed by Public Officer. – When the offender or the person responsible for the offense is a public officer as defined in the Administrative Code of the Philippines in the exercise of his or her duties, an accessory penalty consisting in the disqualification to occupy public office for a term double the term of criminal penalty imposed shall he applied.

Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices is a full service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 4706126, +632 4706130, +632 4016392, or email us at info@ndvlaw.com.

Comments are closed.

  • fb
  • twitter
  • twitter