Privacy body warns: SIM registration bid may lead to ‘heightened risk’ in personal data breach
MANILA, Philippines – The proposed registration of pre-paid SIM cards may lead to a heightened risk of a personal data breach, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said Wednesday.
During a Senate public services committee hearing, NPC OIC Director IV Atty. Ivy Grace Villasotto said that while the agency recognizes the clamor for SIM card registration as a means to address national security, she emphasized that such a move would entail a “massive collection” of personal data nationwide.
“This may result in a heightened risk of personal data breaches, unauthorized processing, intrusion into the privacy of the privacy of the people and the restriction of other rights and freedoms,” Villasoto said.
Before this, Engr. Tito Pierre Galla of internet and information and communications technology rights advocacy group Democracy.net.PH said that SIM registration could either be useful or useless, which may be an additional problem instead of a solution.
“In countries where SIM registration was used for purposes of law enforcement, SIM registration has proved ineffective and has created new and additional criminal activities related to circumventing SIM registration,” Galla said.
But Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the author of Senate Bill No. 176 that pushes for the mandatory SIM card registration, reacted to Villasotto and Galla’s statements.
“While we look for other countries’ experiences and their models, but we have to listen to our own law enforcement agencies because they are accountable to us when it comes to safety and order,” Gatchalian answered Galla’s statement.
Later on, Gatchalian said that the NPC’s stance “doesn’t speak well with” the existence of the country’s privacy commission.
“We’re only one out of six countries that have a data privacy commission. We have a very robust Data Privacy Act and that’s precisely the reason why we enacted a Data Privacy Law is to protect data privacy and find ways how to protect the privacy of our constituents,” he said.
“Yes, there is a data privacy issue here but we can find ways because we have a law that will protect our privacy and our data,” Gatchalian added. “We have a stringent law and powers to Data Privacy Commission to impose mechanisms and safeguards in order to protect our data privacy in light of this SIM card registration.”
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