THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) has recommended the prosecution of Pondo Peso online lending app operator Fynamics Lending Inc. for using the personal information of its users without permission.

Fynamics is one of several online lending apps that have been the subject of customer complaints for processing users’ mobile contact lists without consent.

The company would call the users’ contacts and use personal information to damage the customers’ reputation or threaten them into settling their loans.

“Methods used in personal data processing information were unduly intrusive, including posting on social media of personal and sensitive personal information of data subjects or even subjecting their contacts to threats and harassment,” NPC said in a statement.

The commission received 113 complaints about the company between mid-2018 to mid-2019.

NPC Chief of Complaints and Investigation Michael R. Santos said the company committed the unauthorized processing of personal information and sensitive personal information, a violation under section 25 of the Data Privacy Act or Republic Act No. 10173.

“The commission finds that respondent Fynamics committed unauthorized processing for its retention of contact lists beyond its declared purpose and unauthorized processing its use of the borrowers’ contacts for debt collection,” he said in a press conference on Friday.

The commission has sent its decision to the Department of Justice, recommending prosecution after finding that the firm’s board of directors have violated the Data Privacy Act for which they could be imprisoned and fined.

Complaints about online lending apps increased in recent years, Mr. Santos said, peaking at 455 in September 2019 before declining during the lockdown. Complaints about online lending made up 89% of reports filed with the NPC in 2019, from 15% a year earlier.

The NPC is continuing to investigate other online lending applications. — Jenina P. Ibañez