Online lenders warned on use of customer data

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has reminded online lenders anew to be responsible in handling their customers’ personal data.

In a statement yesterday, Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro lauded Google’s move to take down from its Play Store four online lending apps – JuanHand, Pesopop, CashJeep and Lemon Loan – following orders from the NPC.

The apps are no longer available for download from the Google Play Store after the NPC provided copies of orders issued to the apps’ operators to Google and the National Telecommunications Commission.

The NPC ordered the apps’ operators to stop the processing of their borrowers’ personal data as the apps have been the subject of complaints on the unauthorized use of information resulting in harassment and debt shaming of borrowers.

NPC said the apps’ processing of their borrowers’ information such as contacts, location, photos, media files, email, and social media data, pose serious privacy concerns and expose borrowers to privacy risks and harms.

The four lending apps were downloaded more than 2.1 million times from the Google Play Store prior to the takedown.

With the removal of the apps, Liboro called on other online lending apps to make sure they comply with the law and use reasonable methods when processing data of loan applicants.

“For other online lending applications, the NPC strongly urges you to employ know-your-customer and debt collection practices that are aligned with NPC Circular 20-01, where we laid out guidelines on the processing of personal data for loan-related transactions,” he said.

In 2019, 26 online lending apps were also taken down on NPC’s orders for failing to appear before the commission and to explain allegations on their use of personal data to shame delinquent borrowers.

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