March 2, 2024

The head of the National Privacy Commission touted the agency’s initiatives on the right to privacy and protection of personal information in the Philippines during the visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan.

NPC Commissioner John Henry Naga and Khan met on Jan. 23 and discussed how Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 safeguards personal information while championing freedom of opinion and expression and recognizing the role of journalism, art, literature, and research.

The two also discussed the relationship between the right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression as aspects of a “vibrant” democracy, as evolving technology poses challenges surrounding privacy and freedom of expression.

“Fundamental human right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression are interdependent pillars of a democratic society. The right to privacy safeguards individuals from undue surveillance, ensuring that personal information is protected. This, in turn, cultivates an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and opinions, which is a cornerstone of any vibrant democracy,” Naga said in a statement. “This allows for creative expression to flourish without the fear of privacy violations.”

Also discussed were the commission’s initiatives aimed at fostering data privacy awareness and implementation of policies that balance privacy rights and lawful disclosure, Naga said.

He cited the NPC had issued a circular on Guidelines for Legitimate Interest in December last year, and also in the process of calling for public input in the issuance of guidelines on the processing of personal data for research purposes.

“These policies guarantee a lawful basis for personal information processing while ensuring the free flow of information,” he said.

Naga thanked Khan for her input during the visit, commending her commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights globally.

“Her expertise and experience added immense value to our collective efforts in ensuring the protection of personal data. This is especially important given the renewed commitment of the Marcos Administration to promote and protect human rights,” Naga said.

Khan arrived in the country on Jan. 22 and will stay until Feb. 2.

She is the third Special Rapporteur to visit the Philippines in 14 months, after Special Rapporteur for the Sale and Exploitation of Children, Fatimah Singhateh, in November 2022 and Special Rapporteur for Climate Change and -Human Rights, Ian Fry, in November 2023. – PNA