The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has won a voting seat at the five-member Executive Committee of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels, Belgium.

In the process, the NPC has brought honors to the Philippines, despite its being only a newcomer to data privacy regulation.

Republic Act No. 10173, also known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012, established the NPC as an independent body.

Its mandate covers the administration and implementation of the Data Privacy Act as well as the monitoring and making sure the country’s compliance with international standards on data protection.

npc-in-belgium.jpgPrivacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro (left) in Belgium, for ICDPPC. (Photo: NPC)

The privacy commission, among other actions, have already tackled the infamous “ComeLeak” or the hacking and exposure of millions of voters’ personal information from the database of the Commission of Elections (Comelec), the recent theft of ABS-CBN store’s customers’ personal data, and the latest hacking of Facebook that impacted over 50 million users, including over 700,000 Filipinos.

An email from the privacy commission with headquarters at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) located inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) compound, Pasay City, reported the good news.

Closed door meeting

The Philippines won the voting seat on October 23 during a meeting done in a closed door session held at the Palais D’Egmont in the Belgian capital.

Over 1,200 delegates gathered at the conference from across the world.

NPC Chairman and Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro attended this week the conference, a worldwide conference of 119 independent regulators from all over the world that assembled in Brussels as they explored high-level proposals concerning data privacy and protection.

For the last two years, Liboro has been leading the country’s active involvement in the conference, drawing attention to the Philippines’ efforts to be at par with global protection standards using a uniquely Asian approach to regulation.

He cited the significance of the country’s election to the Executive Committee.

“It is an honor for the NPC to represent the country at the ICDPPC, especially in a leadership capacity. This is an acknowledgment of the hard work we expend, as well as the country’s commitment to data protection,” said Liboro, former director of the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and  Technology (DOST-STII).

There are five elected members of the Conference’s Executive Committee who will serve for two years.

At present the members are privacy authorities of Australia, Canada, Burkina Faso, and United Kingdom, the chairman.

On the other hand, the Executive Committee has two additional members made up of the next hosting authorities, such as Albanian and Mexico.

NPC takes pride at being winner

“Having a seat at the committee’s table to take part in addressing challenges that privacy regulators face is definitely a privilege for the NPC. It’s an opportunity for learning from each other’s experience. Definitely, the Philippines although young has a lot to contribute especially in assisting new menbers,” said Liboro.

Meanwhile, the ICDPPC has accepted new members during the meeting, Germany, Korea, and Argentina as well as 11 new authorities granted observer status coming from Asia, to wit, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi.

Liboro is the pioneer head of the NPC, having been appointed to the position in March 2016, paving the way for the long-overdue activation of the Data Privacy Law.

French Privacy Commissioner Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the outgoing ICDPPC chairperson, welcomed the Philippines’ election.

“I’m very happy that the Philippines is becoming a new member of the Executive Committee. I think it shows the geographical diversification of this Executive Commttee — the fact that new entities are entering and bringing energy and new ideas to this Executive Committee.

“I think it strengthened the International Conference so it’s a very good signal and I’m happy to welcome the Philippine authority in the group,” said Falque-Pierrotin.

The NPC became a member of the ICDPPC in 2016. (EKU)