Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Government Open Data to Improve with Data Sharing Directives
The free-flow of information within the government is expected to improve with the National Privacy Commission’s (NPC) issuance of its latest memorandum circular (NPC MC 16-02) on Data Sharing Agreements Involving Government Agencies.
This latest issuance from the NPC reinforces its mandate to support the free-flow of information and safeguard the right to privacy of information. Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said the law was intended to strike a balance between the need for information freedom and data privacy as indispensable components of nation building. “Freedom of information is more than just access requests to government, it is about responsible data sharing. Open data will contribute significantly to improving government services and coming up with new ones, supporting innovation and growth,” Liboro said.
The Freedom of Information (FoI) Executive Order was recently issued by the government, and the privacy commission clarified that the Data Privacy Act (DPA) cannot be used as a shield against FoI. It pointed out that the DPA is for the protection of any personal data that may be contained in government records that is not relevant to the freedom of information request, particularly when it affects private citizens.
The government is considered the largest collector and repository of personal data. E-governance initiatives and innovations in public services allow for citizens to avail of these services online, eliminating the need to queue up or having to fill out paper-based forms with personal data that the government already has.
The Data Sharing Issuance requires that personal information controllers (government agencies) to implement safeguards for data sharing. These safeguards include adhering to data privacy principles, entering into Data Sharing Agreements, reviewing technical security measures when allowing online access, and providing for the return, destruction or disposal of transferred personal data. Violation of directives contained in the issuance may lead to sanctions.