DFA probes data breach into PHL passport tracking system

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is suspending the passport tracking system as it investigates a potential data breach of their passport applicants.

DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay confirmed a report that the data of passport applicants may have been inadvertently exposed or compromised following what could be a “misconfiguration” of their Online Passport Tracker.

Before this incident, Filipinos who applied for the first time or renewal of passports can track the status of their application via DFA’s  Online Passport Tracker.

The tracker was launched last September 11, 2021, amid mounting requests for updates of passport application.

In a news statement, the DFA said its Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) was made aware of a data privacy issue last Tuesday.

“DFA-OCA has taken down the Online Passport Tracker and all its data sources to avoid further data broadcasting,” the DFA said.

Passport applications contain numerous personal data such as house address, date of birth, place of birth, e-mail address and mobile phone numbers.

However, the potential data that were exposed were names and mobile numbers of the passport applicants and not the other data entered during the initial online application, DFA Assistant Secretary for Public and Consular Diplomacy Eduardo Meñez clarified to the BusinessMirror.

“The tracking system is different from our application system,” Meñez explained.

It is not known how many passport applicants were compromised from the misconfiguration.

“The DFA’s IT Unit is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this issue and is taking appropriate measures to secure the data that may have been exposed. An internal audit will also be conducted to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” Meñez added.

Those who wish to follow up the status of their passport application may contact the DFA on these numbers:

E-mail addresses: passportconcerns@dfa.gov.ph, oca@dfa.gov.ph Hotlines: 09773533942, 09619432021, 09560526290 or (02) 8651-9400 Facebook: facebook.com/dfaphl
Twitter: twitter.com DFAPHL, twitter.com/DFAOCA, Instagram: instagram.com/dfaphl

The DFA-OCA has assured the public that it continues to prioritize the protection and privacy of the data it handles in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2021 (Republic Act 10173). It has also coordinated with the National Privacy Commission in resolving this issue.


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