Sen. Leila M. de Lima today vowed to protect the sanctity and integrity of the country’s elections as she sought for an investigation into the Commission on Elections (Comelec) data leaks which purportedly affected 55-million registered voters in the last elections.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate electoral reforms committee, said the data breach that hit the Comelec should be looked into to find out the extent of its damage not only on its voters’ database but also on the integrity of the ordinary people’s personal information.
“The rising number of Internet vigilantes who tamper with our people’s right to privacy should be everyone’s cause for worry. The need to preserve the right to privacy should be paramount,” she said.
“This right should be made available to all regardless of one’s stature in our society. The Comelec data breach is everyone’s problem, a repetition of this breach is everyone’s problem. Online lawlessness should be nipped at its bud,” she added.
At the resumption of Senate session today, the former justice secretary filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 260 to conduct a legislative inquiry on the current state of the voters’ database in the custody of the Comelec that was reportedly hacked last year.
Although the Comelec maintained that no confidential information was unduly compromised, the hacking incident had prompted the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to investigate the alleged data breach and find out who were the culprits.
In its decision last Dec. 28, however, the NPC had recommended the criminal prosecution of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista for allegedly failing to ensure the privacy of the voters’ database last March.
NPC took issue on Bautista’s alleged “lack of appreciation” of the principle that data protection is more than just implementation of security measures, thus violating Republic Act 10173, also known as the 2012 Data Privacy Act.
De Lima, a known election lawyer, explained one’s personal information should be guarded at all times against unlawful access and manipulation, fraudulent misuse, authorized usage, unlawful destruction, alteration, interference with, and contamination.
“There is no denying that the Comelec data breach that occurred is indeed unacceptable, and that those responsible should be fully prosecuted and punished, whether they are foreign or domestic actors,” she said.
In SR No. 260, De Lima noted that the searchable website known as “wehaveyourdata” containing sensitive data on Filipino registered voters was found to have been bought from a US-based web-hosting firm and was allegedly hosted in Russia.
The Senator from Bicol stressed that the proposed Senate inquiry is aimed to preserve the sanctity and integrity of the entire electoral process starting with the protection of the voters’ registration procedure and all pertinent information.
It is also meant to protect the Filipinos’ exercise of their right of suffrage that is free of all threats and malicious interventions from any foreign or domestic sources, she pointed out. (30)