NO NEED. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday (March 30, 2021) that contact tracing should be improved, instead of suspending the Data Privacy Act. He said only a repealing law can suspend it. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday expressed misgivings on proposals by private business groups to consider the suspension of the Data Privacy Act as a stop-gap measure for contact-tracing of Covid-19 positive individuals.

Guevarra also explained that an amendment or repealing law can suspend Republic Act No. 10173.

He said available data from health authorities are sufficient measures, without resorting to lifting the safeguards to civil liberties being protected by the law.

“The data privacy act is legally in effect and its implementation may not be suspended unless authorized by congressional action,” Guevarra said.

“In any event, available data from health authorities may be utilized for contact tracing without compromising the privacy of individuals. The solution is not to suspend the data privacy act, but to make the system of contact tracing more thorough, efficient, and far-reaching,” he added.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has emphasized that in managing the pandemic, public health and data privacy are on the same side.

The agency added that hospitals have the duty to disclose the necessary patient details to contact tracers while patients should be truthful in providing accurate personal details.

The request was “anti-poor, bereft of science and ethics,” according to NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro last year, as “there’s no scientific proof that publicly naming Covid infected individuals has public health benefits in a pandemic response”.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry was one of the business groups that called for the suspension of the law last year. (PNA)