Senate probe into alleged data breach in gov’t agencies sought
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate investigation into the alleged data breach of 1.2 million government records, mostly of applicants and employees of law enforcement agencies, is being pushed by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
Revilla, who led the Senate public information and mass media committee in the previous Congress, filed Senate Resolution No. 573 on Thursday, urging the appropriate panel of the upper chamber to conduct a probe into the alleged exposure of databases of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government agencies.
“Sobrang nakakabahala ang ulat na ito. Napaka-sensitive ng mga data na involved – mga fingerprint scans, tax identification numbers, birth certificates at ultimo mga kopya ng passport. Kung mapunta ito sa kamay ng mga masasamang tao, napakadali na sa kanila na gamitin ito sa panloloko at pag-access ng iba pang records katulad ng sa mga bangko,” Revilla said in a statement on Friday.
(This report is very disturbing. The data involved here is very sensitive – fingerprint scans, tax identification numbers, birth certificates, and even copies of passports. If this falls in the hands of unscrupulous people, it would be easy to use this for fraud and access other records like banks.)
Cybersecurity researcher Jeremiah Fowler on Tuesday reported the exposure of a massive, non-password secured database of law enforcement bodies for at least six weeks.
Data privacy and protection, according to Revilla, is a national security concern.
“In this age of digitalization and e-governance, mas lalo pa dapat natin paigtingin na ligtas ang mga impormasyon na hawak ng ating gobyerno para hindi makompromiso ang taumbayan. I, therefore, call on my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly take action on this matter para hindi na muling mangyari ito,” he said.
(In this age of digitalization and e-governance, we should strengthen means of ensuring the safe handling of government information so we won’t compromise the security of the people. I therefore call on my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly take action on this matter to prevent this from happening again.)
This would not be the first massive data breach that allegedly struck the Philippine government.
Supposed breaches concerning poll data frequently hound the Commission on Elections.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, also among frequent subjects of data privacy issues, took down in 2021 its online passport tracking system and all its data sources as it launched an investigation into an alleged breach of its records.
A 2022 study by digital public relations firm Reboot found that the Philippines is one of the least cybersecure countries in Asia with a cyber danger score of 62.7 out of 100.