Use of cross-border data tools pushed

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is encouraging local companies to use tools that can integrate data management and cross-border transfer standards across Southeast Asia amid the growth of digital economy in the region.

The privacy watchdog on Wednesday said firms can tap Model Contract Clauses (MCCs) and the Data Management Framework (DMF). These are tagged as “vital for Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nation] businesses to use in their data-related business operations and help build trust, transparency and accountability.”

According to NPC, MCCs are voluntary standards that Asean companies may enforce in legally binding contracts to make sure customer data are protected during cross-border transfers.

Companies may modify the MCCs—as long as it will not contradict the existing clauses and domestic policies on privacy and protection—given the different levels of development among the countries in Asean region, NPC said.

“Meanwhile, the DMF is a voluntary and non-binding guidance for Asean businesses to establish a data management system and governance structure that appropriately safeguard different kinds of data,” the privacy agency said in a statement.

The framework enumerates key areas that require measures protecting the data’s confidentiality, integrity and availability.

These include government and oversight; policies and procedural documents; data inventory; impact/risk assessment; controls; and monitoring and continuous improvement.

The MCCs and DMFs were approved during the 1st Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting in January. These are in line with the Asean Framework on Personal Data Protection, which seeks to promote the growth of trade and flow of data in the digital economy. “Given the great shift to digitalization during this pandemic, the region can surely exceed the $240 billion it is projected to attain by 2025. But as early as now, we must ensure that the Philippines will have a slice of that growth,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said.

The Asean digital economy reached approximately $72 billion in gross merchandise value in 2018, NPC noted. The figure was supported by growing interest user base in online travel, e-commerce, online media and ride-hailing services.

“With its focus on trust, transparency, and accountability, the MCCs and DMF will elevate Philippine companies’ competitiveness and readiness to capture new markets,” Liboro said. “Because what companies do to safeguard their customers’ data from hacks, unauthorized access and other emerging threats is what is defining competitiveness today.”

The NPC chief said the agency will introduce more initiatives to capacitate companies, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, to allow inclusive growth. Earlier this year, the Department of Trade and Industry said it aims to boost the contribution of the e-commerce industry to P1.2 trillion by 2022, which is equivalent to 5.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

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