Is PhilSys worth it?

How much do you value your privacy may it be online or offline?

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act No. 11055 or the “Philippine National Identification System Act” last August 2018 which aims to “eliminate the need to present other forms of identification when transacting with the government and private sector. On September this year, the implementation on this act will kick-off. The PhilSys will collect private information including demographic data such as your name, sex, birthdate, blood type, and address, and biometric data including a front-facing photo, full set of fingerprints, iris scan and other identifiable features. For this very reason that some Filipinos negated this idea citing the possible violation of privacy among others.

Privacy lawyer Jam Jacob which is also a legal and policy adviser of technology and rights advocacy group Foundation for Media Alternatives said, “It can result in a centralized file that will give a detailed history of an individual’s activities over an extended period.” He also emphasized  that this could lead to a “dataveillance” in where there is no need to single out a person since all the information of a person is available already in a single database. However, Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia emphasized that the information that will be collected will be under the authority of the Philippine Statistics Authority as the main implementing agency of the national ID system.

Aside from privacy issues, a complex system such as Philsys can be easily manipulated by government officials given that the initiative is government-sanctioned. Involvement of public officials could lead to unwanted access in the database, even just to get a cellphone number from a person. Also, identity theft and major data breach might also occur with hackers ready to take any valuable information from systems.

This is why the PSA will be assisted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology that will adapt new and effective technology that will help in registration, authentication and security of all data. Likewise, the National Privacy Commission will intend to build trust with people by breaches and leakages mitigation and making sure that agencies involved including Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Social Welfare and Development will adhere to the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

The Philippine National Identification System will be beneficial for the Filipino people. This will improve government efficiency and poor people can easily avail government services. Despite this, the country has to invest in a major effort to craft regulations and create security features that will avoid breach and keep the balance of data privacy.

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