Passport data 'not run-away-able,' says Locsin

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Passport data 'not run-away-able,' says Locsin
In this Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. represents President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit and EU-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
Presidential file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. clarified that it was not possible for a contractor to have run away with personal data of those affected by the data breach at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The country's top diplomat earlier claimed that a contractor "took away" all applicants' data, prompting the DFA to require those renewing their passports to bring their birth certificates.

"Data is not run-away-able but made inaccessible. Access denied. But APO assured me they were able to access but not much use and parts corrupted," Locsin said on Twitter in response to a netizen who asked for clarification.

Locsin was referring to APO Production Unit, a company under the Presidential Communications Operations Office, which is the latest contractor.

According to the secretary, APO agreed with him that old passports would be the best evidence of identity.

Locsin also said former contractor French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare would not compromise the country's security despite making the data inaccessible.

"Although APO assured me yesterday they were able to access it though the data is of not much use now. The French never compromise another country's security because they don't want to occupy us," he said in a separate tweet.

On the other hand, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said Oberthur could not have run away with personal data of passport holders.

The former DFA chief said the French firm simply withdrew from the agency when its contract expired.

Saying that the previous contractor ran away with data would be "completely false and malicious," according to Yasay.

"The only reason, compelling reason I can see is because they wanted to deflect the real issue of the passport mess, which is awarding, the production of the passport from an end-to-end basis," Yasay told ANC's "Headstart" on Monday.

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As It Happens
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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