THE NATIONAL Privacy Commission (NPC) has inked an agreement with telecommunication companies to enhance cooperation between government and the private sector in improving consumerspersonal data protection and service quality.  

In a statement on Thursday, the NPC said Privacy Commissioner and Chairman John Henry D. Naga signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dito Telecommunity Corp. Chief Administrative Officer Adel A. Tamano, Globe Telecom, Inc. Chief Privacy Officer Irish Salandanan-Almeida, and Smart Communications, Inc. Chief Data Privacy Officer Leah B. Jimenez. 

The MoU provides for the creation of a joint task force, with the NPC serving as secretariat, to foster coordination, communication, and implementation of the partiesrespective obligations regarding data privacy and protection.”   

This initiative is crucial in light of the increasing instances of data breaches and cyber threats that pose a significant risk to data privacy and security,Mr. Naga said.   

It is our collective responsibility to equip our fellow citizens with the knowledge on their rights as data subjects and doing their part in protecting their own personal data, he said.   

The MoU also sets out the launch of a joint information dissemination campaign that will educate the public on fraudulent schemes and the correct process of reporting.    

The collaboration between NPC and telcos, through the MoU, is a response to the urgent need to protect the publics data privacy and security, especially against the prevalence of fraudulent schemes such as targeted smishing messages,the NPC said.  

Mr. Naga said public-private collaboration is also vital to improve data privacy awareness.    

By working together in this common endeavor, we can effectively promote the significance of ensuring that personal data is safe and secured, and the consequences of failing to do so,he said.    

A senator, meanwhile, called on financial technology (fintech) users to invokeconsumer protection laws to demand better safeguards and response systems from companies and government regulators following the anomalous deductions in the electronic wallet of GCash users on Monday. 

Incidents like this diminish the confidence of consumers not only in using and adopting fintech in their daily transactions but also in the countrys financial system in general, which could potentially impede economic growth,Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement on Thursday.  

Mr. Gatchalian said Republic Act (RA) No. 11765, or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act empowers regulators to proactively respond and set up measures that address consumer concerns.  

Under the law, the central bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission, and the Cooperative Development Authority are mandated to formulate their own regulations, conduct market surveillance and examination, impose enforcement actions, and handle consumer complaints on financial products, markets, and services.  

Mr. Gatchalian cited the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP) consumer protection rules under Circular No. 1160, where central bank-supervised institutions are required to protect the right of its customers, and to establish a consumer protection risk management system.  

The BSP on Wednesday called on GCash operator G-Xchange, Inc. to swiftly resolvethe fund deductions and submit a regulatory report.  

Funds from GCash customers were reported to have been transferred to accounts under Asia United Bank Corp. (AUB) and EastWest Banking Corp. (EastWest)via InstaPay.  

AUB said on Tuesday that it put the suspected account on hold, while EastWest Bank said it is launching an internal investigation into the incident.  

GCash on Tuesday said it did not find any evidence of hacking involved in the e-wallet deductions.  

Online payment services must ensure the safety and security of our consumershard-earned money,Mr. Gatchalian said. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz