SENATOR Leila de Lima has pressed for an investigation into the alleged hacking of the computer system of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that led to the reported “leakage” of personal data of over 55 million registered voters in the last general polls.
The data “breach” that hit the Comelec should be looked into to determine the extent of damage not only to its voters’ database but also on the integrity of the ordinary people’s personal information, she said.
“The rising number of Internet vigilantes who tamper with our people’s right to privacy should be everyone’s cause for worry,” said De Lima.
Yesterday the senator filed Senate Resolution No. 260 seeking an inquiry into 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.
“The need to preserve the right to privacy should be paramount. This right should be made available to all regardless of one’s stature in our society,” said De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms.
“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 said.
In its decision last December 28 the NPC recommended the criminal prosecution of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista for allegedly failing to protect the privacy of the voters’ database last March.
NPC took issue with 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 former election lawyer, said that 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.
She 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.
She said that the proposed Senate probe into the matter is aimed at preserving 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 said.