NPC: Airlines may share passenger data with gov’t amid coronavirus scare

During the Philippine Senate hearing on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Health Secretary Francisco Duque “blamed” the airlines for the delay in contract tracing of passengers in the same flight as the two confirmed cases (one death) in the country.herwise

The Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro immediately released a statement on the release of passenger manifest of airlines to government agencies particularly the Department of Health (DOH), in relation to the 2019 nCov response:

Liboro said that privacy is not an absolute right and must adhere to the requirements of public order and safety “to protect the life and health of the data subject or another person.” However, the commission recognizes that data disclosure may “pose privacy risks to individuals,” the Data Privacy Act of 2012 otherwise known as the Republic Act 10173 “will not stand as an obstacle to the fulfillment by public authorities of their constitutional and statutorily mandated.”

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According to the Data Privacy Act of 2012, airlines should comply in the event that a government agency, in this case, the DOH, requests for the passenger manifest as it is “allowed under the Privacy Act.”

“In responding to a critical public health issue like nCov, the DOH has the mandate, purpose and the necessity to collect and process personal data to uphold the public welfare. Therefore, nothing should prevent airline companies from releasing relevant passenger data to competent and mandated authorities like the Department of Health,” Liboro’s statement said. “The Data Privacy Act of 2012 is not meant to prevent the government from processing personal and sensitive personal information when necessary to fulfill their mandates. Rather, it aims to protect the right to data privacy while ensuring the free flow of information. What the DPA does is to promote fair, secure, and lawful processing of such information.”

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