THE Philippines is taking steps to improve business data privacy standards, according to a National Privacy Commission (NPC) official.

This as the Philippines last month signed up to be the ninth country in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Cross-Border Privacy Rules (APEC CBPR) system. The NPC also plans to create Philippine national privacy standards.

The APEC CBPR is a voluntary certification mechanism that allows member-companies to safely transfer data across APEC economies. The certification is expected to lower compliance costs as it removes the need to meet domestic privacy requirements of other countries.

“The benefit there is your [company data] practices will be recognized by other countries so you prevent data privacy being weaponized against you because you know that your standards are at par,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro told reporters after a Makati Business Club executive briefing on Thursday.

He said that there is a three-month gestation period following the Philippine’s application to join the APEC CBPR.

The Philippines would then need to nominate Accountability Agents — public or private agents that certify the companies — which will make certifications in the country recognizable in all jurisdictions.

The NPC also plans to launch the Philippine Privacy Marks before the end of the year, a data privacy and accountability 32-point checklist.

National certification marks may be recognized by other countries. “Part of our agenda with Singapore in the MoU [Memorandum of understanding] is the mutual recognition later on,” he added.

The Philippines and Singapore on Monday signed an MoU to share data best practices.

Mr. Liboro said that one of the biggest concerns in the Philippines is business data negligence, where data breaches due to carelessness happen.

“Being hacked is not a crime, but being negligent is,” he said.

He added that privacy is now becoming a differentiator among businesses, and that Filipinos are more likely to choose a company that is more trustworthy when it comes to data.

“This is really to enable widespread trust among businesses. That’s the end-all of the law —that everyone will trust business here. So that it can create social stability and employment,” he said.

Current APEC CBPR members include the US, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Australia, and Chinese Taipei. — Jenina P. Ibañez