Data Privacy

NPC warns ‘social vigilantes’ for threats against medical frontliners

The Philippines’ National Privacy Commission (NPC) issued a statement warning so-called “social vigilantes” against threatening and attacking health workers who are at the forefront of caring for COVID-19 patients.

A week ago, a nurse of St. Louis Hospital in Sultan Kudarat was attacked by a group who threw bleach to his face, which according to the hospital “could cause irreparable and permanent damage to his sight.”

“We also denounce people who irresponsibly publicize the personal data of persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs), thus exposing them to danger even graver than the novel coronavirus itself – that of maltreatment, online bullying and physical violence from individuals who may be driven by desperation and fear,” said Raymund Liboro, commissioner, NPC.

Have you read “NPC: Airlines may share passenger data with gov’t amid coronavirus scare”?

Liboro reminded the public that health workers, persons under investigation (PUI), and persons under monitoring (PUM) are not the enemy and the citizenry should instead support them.

Privacy

The commissioner noted that the public must respect the PUIs and PUMs right to privacy and that “their personal information protected against being disseminated without their consent.”

“Once personal information of health workers, PUIs, and PUMs is divulged, targeting, doxing and stigmatization are not far behind,” he said.

While it is heartening to see people pay tribute to those who are either hospitalized or have perished, people must also realize whether patients would agree to be identified or not.

“Social vigilantes contribute to the problem by dampening the bayanihan spirit and damaging our collective capacity to respond in an organized and humane way. They must, therefore, be discouraged and stopped,” Liboro said.

In fulfillment of its twin mandate to protect the fundamental human right of privacy and ensure the free flow of information to promote innovation and growth, the National Privacy Commission is committed to deterring all unlawful use of personal data.