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Global Media Registry

Data Privacy Act mars transparency in ownership

Public access to corporate information through the Reverse Search facility of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was supposed to be a big step towards transparency in business. Launched in 2008, the Reverse Search Module (RSM) was designed to provide public access to company information like incorporators, company affiliations and case relationships.

But the facility will no longer be available. In a letter to VERA Files last July, the SEC said public access to the RSM was discontinued after the Commission re-assessed its responsibilities under the Data Privacy Act (DPA).

Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act was passed into law in 2012 to “protect individual personal information on information and communications systems in the government and the private sector.” The letter also stated: “The data that will be accessed using RSM contains sensitive personal information and public access to these information are generally prohibited under the DPA except if the Data Subject gives his/her consent.”

Under the law, consent needs to be given by written, electronic or recorded means.

“Nonetheless, it may be argued that the SEC’s data processing application and the information generated may be used for journalistic purposes,” the letter added. The law explicitly states that it does not apply to “personal information processed for journalistic, artistic, literary or research purposes” (Sec. 4(d))

The SEC requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to arbitrate and express legal opinion on the matter.

Meanwhile, the DOJ said it handed the job of resolving the issue to the newly created National Privacy Commission (NPC), an independent body created to administer and implement the DPA.

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