NPC flags WhatsApp’s planned privacy policy changes

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) has flagged concerns about mobile messaging application WhatsApp, which is planning to implement privacy policy changes that will include sharing user data with third-party companies hosted by Facebook. The Facebook-owned app is adjusting its privacy policy so that users can interact with businesses through the technology, sparking global user concern about data being shared with the social media giant. The NPC said the company has not yet addressed concerns about the scope of data that Facebook and its partner companies will be able to harvest from the messaging app, and if the new policy is mandatory for all users. “While the Commission takes positive note on WhatsApp’s emphatic assurance on its continued end-to-end encryption of messages and calls, we would like to note that encryption is a bare minimum requirement for ensuring data protection,” it said in a statement on Thursday. The commission cited several concerns, including third party involvement in operations, account deletion without notice, use of personal data for advertising, and information gathering through third parties, among others. “The commission is closely monitoring developments and will directly coordinate with WhatsApp to extract specific details on the new policy, as we seek to understand more the data protection measures it currently adopts or will possibly adopt.” WhatsApp has moved its privacy policy update to May 15. — Jenina P. Ibañez

Central bank officials ready to answer complaint on alleged corruption in national ID program

OFFICIALS of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), including Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, will face complaints against them relating to an alleged irregular bidding process on materials for the National ID system in a “proper forum.” “As regards the complaint filed with the Ombudsman relative to the procurement for the printing of cards for the National ID System, rest assured that the BSP officials concerned will respond in the proper forum once required in accordance with applicable rules,” the central bank said in a statement on Thursday. The complaint was filed on Wednesday before the Office of the Ombudsman by the Stop Corruption Organization of the Philippines, Inc. (SCOPI), claiming that central bank officials did not undertake “competitive bidding” for the procurement of raw materials that will be used for the ID system. Other respondents include officials from the BSP Security Plant Complex Bids and Awards Committee led by Chairperson Prudence Angelita A. Kasala and Vice Chairperson Marianne M. Santos. Officials from the BSP Banknotes and Securities Printing Department Director Carl Cesar H. Bibat and Acting Production Manager Marianne M. Santos are also named in the complaint. “The BSP supports the rollout of the National ID as it is key to wider financial inclusion that promotes shared economic growth and the financial wellbeing of Filipinos,” the BSP said. Mr. Diokno was discharged from hospital on Wednesday following a Sunday medical procedure relating to a minor head injury. The BSP said he may already preside over the Monetary Board meeting as early as next week. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

PPA contractors to be required to plant trees, mangroves

FIRMS with contracts granted by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will now be required to plant trees and mangroves as part of government efforts to protect the environment. Starting Feb. 2, the PPA’s service and goods providers as well as those involved in port facilities construction and dredging will be required to plant at least 1,000 seedlings for every contract, accreditation, and permit issued by the agency. Port service providers must also plant additional seedlings, including 100,000 for port terminal operators and 500,000 for private operators. Cargo handling and passenger terminal building operators must also plant 50,000, while roll on-roll off operators and harbor pilots must plant an additional 25,000 and 10,000, respectively. “Compliance with the requirements shall be made not later than one year after the issuance of the documents or from the effectivity of this order, whichever comes first,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said in a statement. Non-compliance could result in the cancelation or non-renewal of permit or contract. — Jenina P. Ibañez