May 22, 2019
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is currently hearing 235 alleged harassment and shaming complaints against 48 online lending applications.
The complaints were filed by borrowers whose privacy rights and reputation were allegedly violated and damaged by the lenders.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Liboro said the concerned online applications allegedly asked for access to contact information, photos, files and documents in mobile phones to process the loan.
Should the borrower fail to settle payments, the application operator would send text messages or call people in the contact list, informing them of the former’s full name and outstanding balance.
“Technology has enabled individuals to have access to loans. However, [there is] a downside,” he lamented. He said this could be comparable to cyber bullying if the borrower information would
be posted on the internet for public shaming.
Liboro declined to name the online lending applications but pledged to provide the list of violators “in due time” as hearings are still ongoing. He clarified the violators are not associated with major banking institutions.
Meanwhile, Liboro revealed some of the violators have no data privacy officer, which is mandated by the Data Privacy Act of 2012. “The complainant could petition for temporary ban. It could lead to a permanent ban for processing information,” he said. If needed, Liboro said the complaint could be elevated to the Department of Justice for unauthorized processing, unauthorized purpose or malicious disclosure. “Individuals are entitled to indemnification if warranted. They can be indemnified by [erring] companies,” he said
Further, he said complainants could avail settlement, with the fee subject to negotiation of both parties. Liboro said individuals should be more careful in reading the privacy notices or terms of agreement. They should be “specific, freely given and again, informed,” he said.
The NPC is currently checking if the privacy notices of the alleged violators are valid in the first place and compliant to the policies.
It said the cases being heard are part of the 485 complaints the commission received last year. Despite the complaints, Liboro said he was seeing a “silver lining” as many individuals become aware of their privacy rights.
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