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Senate approves data privacy act on 3rd reading

March 21, 2012 8:17am
A proposed measure that would ensure the security and integrity of personal data moved closer to becoming a law after the Senate approved it on third reading this week.

The Senate approved on third reading last Tuesday Senate Bill 2965, the Data Privacy Act, which requires public and private entities to preserve personal data they collect.

"By establishing such a policy framework, we actually protect Internet freedoms while making sure the Web remains safe. In this way, we reduce the risk for true harm to be inflicted and heighten the opportunity for our digital space to be a truly productive and collaborative venue," Senate science committee chairman Edgardo Angara had said in sponsoring the bill.

The bill underscores the importance of requiring both the public and private institutions to comply with international data security standards.

It was based on Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council and is at par with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Information Privacy Framework standards, Angara said.

"We should lay down the basis for companies to be responsible in maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of digital data," he said.

Under the bill, a National Privacy Commission will be established to implement and enforce the regulations of the bill.

Angara said the commission will enforce policies that balance the right of the private person to privacy with the need to speed up the utilization of the Internet.

BPO, IT boost

Once passed into law, the bill is expected to help attract investors in the Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industries in the Philippines.

Angara acknowledged the vital role of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and various ICT-enabled companies to the Philippine economy.

"You really are the crucial, critical sector of our economy. I am convinced our nation will be able to grow and prop itself up on account of ICT," he had said in a keynote speech on the First General Membership Meeting of the Infocomm Technology Association (ITAP).

Earlier, the Senate passed on third reading two other bills both sponsored by Angara, designed to support a healthy ICT industry, the Cybercrime Prevention Act (SBN 2796) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology Bill (SBN 50).

With the bill passed into law, the Philippine IT-BPO industry can achieve projections of revenue increase from $9 billion in 2011 to $25 billion by 2016, Angara said.

He added employment in the industry could increase from about one million to four million in the next four years.

"I hope that the executive will be as enthusiastic and vigorous in picking them up and implementing them as quickly once they are passed into law. I have no doubt that they will because I think it's almost suicidal to close our eyes to the reality of how much ICT can help us leapfrog out of poverty," Angara said.

"Right now, we are number one in voice services and call centers. And I think it's very possible for us to become number one in data processing as well --- meaning we can go into higher value-added IT services like engineering, finance, accounting, and healthcare, but only if we have an environment that is protective of data and information," he added.

Exodus of skilled workers

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed his optimism the approval of the three ICT bills will help address an exodus of skilled workers and professionals.

"Today, we live in an open and seemingly borderless world marked by amazing advancements in technology. It is essential to pass measures that are timely and those which adhere to international standards, at the same time, keeping up with the rapid changes in ICT sector," he said. — LBG, GMA News
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