Press Release
September 21, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara sponsored on the Senate floor today the Data Privacy Act, the last among a trio of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) measures supported and demanded by the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry.

Present at the Senate today to show their support were representatives from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P), the Foreign Chambers of Commerce led by Martin Crisostomo, Executive Director of BPA/P and Angelica Petersson, Executive Director of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce.

"Nowadays, we readily reveal personal information like credit card numbers and bank accounts to capitalize on the liberties offered by ICT. This poses significant risks on our privacy and the confidentiality of such data," said Angara.

"But while some companies and government agencies already adhere to stringent regulations on information use, we lack the overarching policy framework that upholds privacy laws and penalizes individuals for overstepping them," said Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

The veteran lawmaker noted that the Philippines was among the 22 countries that suffered from a data breach in 2010, based on a study by the Verizon RISK Team, in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit.

According to the report, 96 percent of the compromised information was payment card data, acquired through hacking and malware.

"By defining who are accountable whenever breaches occur, the Data Privacy Act pushes the private and public sectors to keep their information systems secure. Together with the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the measure Creating a Department of Information and Communications Technology, this measure ensures that the ICT environment we seek to roll out will be conducive for both business and government," said Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).

The Senate version of the Data Privacy Act follows the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Privacy Framework, upholding key Information Privacy Principles, which include preventing harm, providing notice and putting limits to data collection.

Angara shared that this was chosen over other frameworks because it provides flexibility in implementation. He then underscored that the passage of the measure will give a major boost to the IT-BPO industry by improving investor confidence.

"For instance, some of our BPO's offer healthcare information management services to US clients. They have to assure their compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] of 1996 of the US before they can even enter into service contracts," cited Angara.

"Our Data Privacy Act will act as another layer of legal protection with the HIPAA, but this time it will be rooted in local policy. This is a clear signal to potential investors that the Philippines is seriously committed to safeguarding information," he added.

The Philippines IT-BPO industry earned revenues of US$3.3 billion in 2006, which grew threefold by 2010 to US$9 billion. Between the same period, direct employment grew from 236,000 to 525,000.

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