NPC: Suspending data privacy act amid pandemic counterproductive

MANILA – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has stressed that suspending the Data Privacy Act (DPA) and publicly naming persons infected with the Covid-19 virus  is counterproductive in fighting the pandemic.

NPC said the call of some business groups to suspend the DPA to ease contact tracing was a “gross disregard for the expert opinions” of epidemiologists and scientists around the world.

“Singapore and Thailand, which have been cited for their success in contact tracing in battling the virus, have not considered suspending a fundamental human right as a measure to fight the pandemic,” an NPC statement read.

It pointed out that while there is no evidence that naming those infected will have public health benefits, “there is evidence that identifying infected people leads to public discrimination, shaming, and social vigilantism.”

“Such prejudicial treatment has prevented Covid positive individuals and their close contacts from coming out to seek testing and treatment, making it more difficult for authorities to more accurately capture how far Covid-19  has spread,” it said.

The agency noted that existing provisions in the country’s laws “are enough to effectively conduct contact tracing, treat patients, and address other challenges of the crisis while securing the personal data and “dignity of our citizens.”

“The call to suspend the DPA in the name of public disclosure is anti-poor and devoid of science and ethics. Let us move forward the fight against Covid with more evidence-based proposals and solutions,” it added.

Certain top officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and other business groups recently sought the suspension of the enforcement of the DPA to know the identities of infected persons. 

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