As the implementation of the Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 2012 goes in full swing, local telco operators are gearing up to work with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and educate stakeholders on the urgency of promoting data privacy in the country.
The DPA, which seeks to protect the personal information of citizens over various information and communications technology (ICT) platforms, is currently being routed by the NPC to various sectors and industries for a grounded footing of its implementing rules and regulations.
Recently, the NPC and the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO) co-organized an assembly of telcos, content providers and support technology firms to discuss the current status of data privacy within the industry and collaborate on solutions for potential challenges that may be encountered in the process of compliance.
“Telcos are actually the biggest data owners because they service all the different sectors and entities that the DPA covers. Being virtual custodians or banks of personal data, and also as providers of the communications gateway, telcos have to be the vanguard in protecting data privacy and security,” said PCTO Vice President Atty. Roy Ibay during a presentation at the summit.
According to Ibay, the main consideration of telcos is the cost of overhauling current business systems to comply with the DPA rules and regulations. He explained that these processes take time, require additional manpower support and even entail changes in the physical structure of work stations.
He also said that telcos are seeking for further clarification and guidelines on how to manage various government and private sector requests for personal information, particularly in the interest of credit collection and law enforcement.
Finally, Ibay raised the need to keep aligning with global standards and practices in data protection and in defining the scope of the DPA for the industry’s increasing use of Big Data and analytics.
PCTO President Atty. Froilan Castelo meanwhile assured the public that the telco industry is taking extra steps to ensure compliance of its stakeholders, even leveraging on this as a new business strategy.
“The [telco] industry is at the forefront of the data privacy culture in the Philippines. It used to be a matter of compliance, now it is a behavior and a culture. This is the differentiator in business. It is not just compliance but also a business strategy. It is one of the pillars of how business should be conducted in this digital world”, said Castelo.
The PCTO is a non-stock and non-profit organization of local telco operators that is aimed at developing the telecommunications industry and establishing communication linkages of the Philippines with the different countries of Asia and with the rest of the world.
Under the leadership of its current Chairman Engr. Enrico delos Reyes of the Philippine Association of Private Telecommunications Companies (PAPTELCO), the PCTO is committed to unify private sector initiatives to uplift the quality of telco services in the country and create sustainable solutions to issues that hamper the productivity of the industry.
“PCTO will continue to work with the government and with various stakeholders to achieve our vision of building a world-class telco architecture for our country and truly transform the Philippines into a digitally-empowered nation,” said delos Reyes.