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Thoughts on data privacy

Recently, the news about the breach of data privacy from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) came out. An insider stole all the data containing private information of every person listed in its database. The data breach sparked controversies throughout the country because every person who has his or her information in that database is now vulnerable to unauthorized access, meaning external parties can use his or her personal information.

What is the essence of data privacy? Data privacy is having the ability to consent to what can be shared about your personal information to third parties. This means protection of all kinds of information, be it public or private. Not like before when people take for granted the sharing of information with others without the consent of the affected persons, Data privacy protects one’s information through added consent when sharing information. What makes data privacy so important is that it gives people a safe and private environment in a digitalized world that has everything online and ease in access.

In our personal lives, data privacy plays a vital role in terms of guarding very sensitive information about us. Once this information becomes accessible to the public, various unauthorized transactions may occur, and this may put our lives at stake. How do we safely secure our confidential information from the prying eyes of the public?

First of all, we guard the hard copies or the original documents in a physically stable environment. What are examples of these? We have vaults, locks and even security guards to protect the security of these valuable assets. Others install alarms for situations such as unauthorized access to these information. Not only do we guard these information from forceful breach from the public but also from other physical events such as fires and earthquakes.

Data privacy is important in a way that we also have safeguards for online threats such as hacking, phishing and other risks. We have different passcodes in our online system so that the unauthorized access from the online perspective is also minimized. Data privacy is significant due to the measures we have in order to secure confidential information. In a world where everything is accessible, data privacy puts a limit to this access through consent of people whose information will be shared with the public.

The value of data privacy is given prominence with the celebration in May of the Privacy Awareness Week from May 25 to 31, 2019. As per Presidential Proclamation 527, government agencies are directed to participate in the weeklong PAW celebrations. Personal information controllers and processors in the private sector are likewise encouraged to join.

Visit the official web site (https://paw.privacy.gov.ph) for details on how you may join hands with the National Privacy Commission in saying “Datos ng Pilipino, Protektado Ko!” during the PAW celebration.

Charles Joseph Corpus is a Certified Public Accountant who passed the October 2018 licensure examination. He is currently a Tax Associate of Reyes Tacandong & Co.

This column accepts contributions from accountants, especially articles that are of interest to the accountancy profession, in particular, and to the business community, in general. These can be e-mailed to boa.secretariat@gmail.com.

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