By Raymund E. Liboro
Chairman, National Privacy Commission
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Data Privacy Asia 2017 at the Makati Shangri-LA. Hosted by the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), it is the first large-scale global event on data privacy to be held in the Philippines, gathering experts from across the globe to talk about data privacy and security, particularly as it relates to the business process outsourcing industry.
The BPO industry makes data Privacy in the Philippines quite unique. Not only do we have 105 million Filipinos to protect; we have an entire industry that has been a pillar of our emerging economy, and that needs our protection and support as well. As the BPO industry maintains its contributions to the economy and gains greater momentum, so do the risks to the personal information they process increase, and so does the potential for loss in consumer confidence and trust grow. In other words, the stakes are higher now because the potential for harm is exponentially greater.
This is among the reasons why the Data Protection Act is so important: The existence of a law clearly defines the responsibilities of entities such as BPOs in ensuring the protection of personal data. This is clearly beneficial, as it minimizes the potential for finger-pointing in case of data breach, and it allows industry players to plan and institute processes, assured that there is a clear structure that must be followed in the form of a law.
I reminded our BPO partners of what I see asone of the primary roles of the National Privacy Commission: To empower them so they may fully comply with the law. Of course, it goes without saying—and I believe that I was able to emphasize this during the gathering—that BPO’s are not exempt from the law. As I said then: While we at the NPC are always eager to build consensus with our partners from the private sector, the law will always be the bedrock of our engagement. Persisting in finding ways to skirt compliance will only open the potential for liabilities. Even if, for some reason, you find yourself discovering some loophole or technicality, no business entity will ever be exempt from the justice meted out by consumers. Every company, after all, is in the business of trust. Lose the trust of the public, and you lose business.
I was also glad for the opportunity to update the industry on the efforts of the NPC over the past year or so since our inception. Adhering to our goal of building a culture of privacy in the country, the NPC has built policy foundations, forged partnerships, and created platforms for greater awareness.
Our efforts to engage the public have borne promising, initial fruit. Data privacy consciousness—particularly about the rights of data subjects, and data protection do’s and don’ts, for example—is steadily entering the mainstream consciousness of the public.
People are now engaging in discourse, especially when they believe their rights are being violated. In a loudly democratic, social-media crazy country such as ours, this is a sight to behold for us in the NPC, who have worked long and hard to get people knowledgeable, and talking, about data privacy.
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