THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) has asserted its authority to initiate investigations without a formal complaint, saying that pending cases, news reports, academic studies and anonymous tips are sufficient to trigger a probe.

The authority to conduct so-called motu proprio investigations was outlined in the NPC’s updated procedural rules for 2021 issued Thursday.

Other events that can trigger an investigation were observed trends and reports from various offices within the commission.

The processing of personal data by the subjects of the investigation may be banned to protect national security or the public interest, it said.

The NPC will assign a special task force or officer to investigate potential violators, a process that can include the on-site examination of systems.

The officer or task force must submit a report and recommendations to the commission within 30 days after the investigation closes. Persons being investigated will then be given the chance to submit their comments to the NPC.

The NPC last year investigated a website that posed as associated with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) over a possible breach of registered motorists’ personal information.

The commission ordered website to cease operations after some users found that data in the website were accurate, flagging possible leaks from the LTO database. — Jenina P. Ibañez