Filipinos fear misuse of passport data
Outsourced agency reportedly ran away with data after contract termination
Filipinos in the UAE have expressed concern over the risk of identity theft since news broke that an outsourced company contracted by the government in Manila to facilitate passport applications had run away with the data.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said on Saturday that a terminated outsourcing company “took away” the personal data of passport holders.
“We are rebuilding our files from scratch because the previous outsourced passport-maker took [away] all the data when the contract [was] terminated,” Locsin said through his personal Twitter handle. Locsin explained that the previous contractor got upset when their services were terminated and “made off with [the] data”.
“We couldn’t do anything about it because we were in the wrong. It won’t happen again. Passports pose national security issues and cannot be held back by private entities. Data belongs to the state,” Locsin, who was appointed as foreign secretary in October, said.
To “rebuild our files”, Locsin said, the Department of Foreign Affairs had started asking applicants to bring their birth certificates. He, however, did not specify when the data pilferage occurred.
Dubai-based attorney Barney Al Mazar, director of Gulf Law, questioned the inaction of the government as the entire incident posed a major threat to Filipinos.
“The government is the custodian of documents and passport data, but the owner of the information is the person himself. The information of the public has been put in danger. The biggest risk is identity theft,” Al Mazar told Gulf News. “If the outsourced company is withholding the data, the government has the authority to seize it. If not, that data could be misused, stolen or sold,” he explained.