FOI website data leak? Privacy commission investigating

The government and the National Privacy Commission are looking into the issue of identification documents seemingly getting indexed on search engines

Rappler.com

Published: 7:51 PM March 22, 2019

Updated: 7:51 PM March 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –The government and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) are looking into an issue with the country's freedom of information request website, foi.gov,ph, as some data submitted by users to the site appears to be getting indexed on search engines.

The data in question includes scans or photos of identification cards and passport information sent to the eFOI site in order to verify a user's identity relative to the request sent in.

Some users' identification documents are visible on search engines if users plug in the right set of keywords.

In a report on the Inquirer, Lawyer Tristan De Guzman from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs, whose tasks include overseeing freedom of information implementations, said the issue is currently "under investigation."

De Guzman said, “We already met with the National Privacy Commission. We are looking since yesterday where the leak came from or if there is indeed a leak."

He added that while the group has not received a formal complaint, "we are already conducting an internal investigation."

In a statement released Friday evening, March 22, the FOI Philippines Facebook page reminded both the requesting parties and the government agencies participating in the eFOI program "to strictly abide by the Data Privacy ACt of 2012 and the FOI Philippines' Privacy Policyt (including the eFOI Portal's Terms of Use and Cookies Policy)."

The eFOI portal, the group said, has strict instructions and notifications that should be followed to avoid breaches of personal information.

It added, "In case personal information was erroneously uploaded as an attachment to fields for public viewing, please immediately contact FOI Philippines." 

FOI Philippines is reachable through the telephone numbers (+632) 588-0691 and (+632) 723-1102. They can also be sent emails at foi.pco@gmail.com or foi@pco.gov.ph. – Rappler.com