Cybersecurity Data Privacy News

Foreign affairs dep’t contractor ‘took’ PH passport-holders’ data

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed yesterday that the agency is building its database from scratch because “passport maker took all the (user) data,” according to the report of The Philippine Star.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin “addressed” the loss of data in his Twitter account saying that people who need to apply or renew their passports must submit copies of birth certificates (to authenticate their identity again).

Previously, he said there should be no need to require birth certificates for passport renewal. It turns out that user data have been “stolen” with people the agency know.

Quoting the Star report, Locsin said the previous contractor “got pissed when terminated it made off with data.” He also admitted that the government agency “did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong.”

The DFA is the “executive department of the Philippine government tasked to contribute to the enhancement of national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

Locsin, who took office in October, promised, “It won’t happen again.” He acknowledged that passport (details) pose national security issues and cannot be kept back by private entities. Data belongs to the state.”

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs began the issuance of the Philippine ePassport (electronic passport) on Aug. 11, 2009.

The report also said the secretary said: “The DFA will also come up with a system which will record unanswered calls from the public.”

No details were provided at the number of passport holders affected by the incident.

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