Passport data breach should not burden applicants — Palace

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Passport data breach should not burden applicants � Palace
"The passport data breach, which the Secretary of Foreign Affairs disclosed, is a serious and grave matter," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Monday.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines —  Those seeking to renew their passports should not be burdened by having to submit original copies of their birth certificates, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that doing so means having to transact with the Philippine Statistics Authority, which would be an additional step in the renewal process.

This is in response to the passport data breach in the Department of Foreign Affairs, which Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. disclosed on his Twitter account last week.

Locsin Jr. earlier claimed that a contractor ran off with personal data of passport holders.

"The submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew should suffice for the purpose," Panelo said in a statement.

Malacañang suggested that there should also be an investigation into the process of printing passports to determine if there are violations of laws that may be detrimental to the public.

"The ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape which this administration frowns upon and will not tolerate," the Malacañang spokesman said.

Panelo stressed that the government considers the reported passport data breach a serious and grave matter.

The National Privacy Commission has been directed to investigate possible violations of Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro said the NPC would soon summon DFA officials, other concerned agencies and the unnamed the contractor to investigate the data breach.

“Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects and harm from processing that includes inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law,” Liboro said.

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LATEST UPDATE: January 15, 2019 - 6:00pm

The National Privacy Commission says it will conduct an investigation on the Department of Foreign Affairs' assertion that a former contractor has taken "all the data." 

"Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law," the NPC says.

"We will summon the DFA and concerned agencies including the alleged contractor to determine the facts surrounding the case," it adds.

January 15, 2019 - 6:00pm

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. says the Department of Foreign Affairs is for now taking the word of APO Production Unit that there is no breach in passport data which he says is sufficient justification in removing the birth certificate requirement in the renewal of passports.

In a statement sent to media, Locsin says only a Senate investigation will assure the public that there was no breach or loss of data. Until then, DFA can give no assurances on the safety and security of some data.

January 14, 2019 - 1:09pm

Sen. Nancy Binay calls for a review by the Office of the Solicitor General of all government contacts with third-party providers in response to issues with passport data disclosed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. over the weekend.

"We need to step up our standards when it comes to data protection and security lalo na't ang may hawak ng data management ay third-party contractors. We need to know which agencies are prone to data hostaging para di na maulit ang nangyari noon sa [Land Transportation Office] at [National Bureau of Investigation] where there was a stoppage of operations, and vital public services were affected," she says in a statement.

In a related statement, the Commisison on Human Rights urges the government to identify accountabilities in the supposed data breach, saying it is important to uphold "the right to privacy in preserving human dignity as stated in various human rights documents, including the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012."

It adds the passport data mess "poses grave national security issues, especially since the said data contain sensitive, personal information of Filipino passport holders."

January 14, 2019 - 8:22am

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. says on ANC's "Hot Copy" that he does not believe the previous sub-contractor for Philippine passports stole passport data.

He says Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. may be misinformed about the supposed data breach.

His predecessor, Albert del Rosario, in a statement, has said he respects Locsin's judgment and declined comment on the issue. He has also expressed confidence that Locsin will resolve the issue soon.

January 13, 2019 - 3:18pm

Vice President Leni Robredo urges the government to take action on the stolen passport data.

Robredo says the incident is scary as she joins the call to file charges against the outsourced passport maker. 

The National Privacy Commission said it would investigate the matter.

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